What Not To Wear Women’s Range, Edition

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December 2, 2016 / Comments (4)

Featured Women

What not to wear—women’s range version

Gun magazine and blog headlines keep repeating something that goes like “women are the fastest-growing segment of the firearms industry.” And I’m glad. Females have a right to self-defense with a gun, and many are discovering that shooting, and often hunting, is a fun and therapeutic pastime.
Though I’m anything but fashionable, I confess an affection for the reality show What Not To Wear. Many have been the days I’ve worked with female students on the range, participating in concealed carry qualifications. I do enforce a dress code, for safety’s sake, in other classes, but witnessing these new students and too many bad examples from places like YouTube and even, on occasion, companies selling guns and related products, inspired this piece.
My goal here is to provide some basic guidelines of what to wear to the range, so you, or maybe the woman you’re introducing to shooting, can be safe and have an enjoyable, productive time.
Shooting by oneself is somewhat less fraught with attire-related risks than shooting on a line with one or more other shooters. Even if you never plan on taking a formal shooting class, you may find yourself firing alongside a friend. If one or both of you is using a semiauto rifle or pistol, the need for appropriate attire is increased.

  1. Wear sturdy, closed-toe footwear.
range wear

Flip flops

I said this before in another article. Flip-flops may be comfortable, but when there’s hot brass being ejected from your chamber or flying in your direction from your neighbor, it’s easy to get burned. Most females have experienced curling iron burns, and it’s probably not going to be worse than that, unless the brass lodges itself between a strap and your foot. Plan on a permanent scar if that happens. Worse yet, you MUST keep your finger off the trigger and muzzle in a safe direction as you clear the problem. When your sympathetic nervous system is doing a fire drill, your ability to perform safety behaviors will be little to none.
  1. Be ready to sacrifice the manicure.
range wear

Hand on slide

Remember the safety rule, finger off trigger until sights are on target and you’ve made the decision to shoot? Long nails make it difficult to get your finger out of the trigger guard. If you’ve got hot brass in your shoe or down your shirt, this can be a life-altering situation, and not in a good way.
Proper gun handling can be done with long nails, but it takes practice. You’re better off with a shorter manicure that allows you to be safe, work the slide, maintain a good grip, and load magazines comfortably, while still looking good.
  1. Cleavage is not always your friend.
range wear

Brass burn

Lots of gun companies, and even some professional shooters, are all about showing off tank tops on the range. That’s risky when shooting with even one friend, especially if you’re standing to their right where most semi-auto ejection ports are located. Especially when repeated firing has been going on, brass will be very hot when it touches your skin or, heaven forbid, lodges itself somewhere in your cleavage. One student told the story of a woman who shot part of her index finger off while digging in her bra for hot brass. That’s bad, but that same round could easily have penetrated her chest or head. Don’t be that chick.
Especially if you’ll be shooting in company, cover up with a shirt that doesn’t invite brass. Truth be told, I’ve had brass fall down the back of the collar on a long-sleeved, button-up shirt. Sometimes things happen—but we can help ourselves by not increasing the likelihood
If you’re going to be practicing in the hot sun, or doing exercises that involve going to the ground, being covered up will help you stay focused on the training and enhance your endurance. A little elbow and sun protection go a long way.
Wanting to impress someone? Draw attention to yourself by becoming a competent shooter.
  1. Contain hair and shield eyes
range wear

Beautiful until the hair gets caught in the sling.

Long and even short hair can be very distracting when a breeze makes your hair go anywhere on your face. The blazing sun in your face increases eyestrain and reduces endurance.
Long hair can be especially troublesome when it gets caught up in a rifle sling, slide, or bolt. Even when hair’s contained in a ponytail or braid, it can be a hassle with sling use. This is doubly true when doing timed exercises.
Figure out a way to contain your hair so it’s not in your way. Hair tickling your face will probably be more distracting than you’d think. A brimmed hat is a real asset for sunny days and for keeping short-hair flyaways out of your face.
Real world practice
I’m all about practicing for real-life situations. You may well have to use your gun in flip-flops and a bikini, or in heels and a dress someday, if that’s your mode of dress. Practicing with safe wardrobe preparation allows you to be better prepared when you’re caught in a less-than-ideal situation. It’s okay to add distractions or risks intentionally, one at a time, after you’ve made the Four Rules of Firearm Safety a habit.
Keep it safe and fun
Sacrificing a couple workaday vanity habits while on the range will help you be safe and help you get the most out of your shooting. There are plenty of ways to look cute at the range and be free of annoyances like hair in your eyes, and most importantly prevent ugly injuries to yourself and those around you.

4 Responses to :
What Not To Wear Women’s Range, Edition

  1. John says:

    Excellent article. After a year of gradually getting my wife comfortable enough to go to the range with me and try a few handguns she felt comfortable with, I finally got her to sign the range form and they had a rental handgun she was interested in trying out. Mission accomplished!
    Just as she was filling out the form we both noticed an inexperienced shooter in the range with her husband and father-in-law wearing a tank top, flip flops, and short shorts. My wife made a comment about that not being too safe as the last time she was in the range she had shells coming over the partition and hitting her in the head, and that freaked her out. (Thus taking a year to get her back into the range).
    At that moment a hot shell hit her in her cleavage, she stepped back with her hand still on the trigger and tried reaching in her shirt to retrieve the shell with her trigger hand. The gun went off shooting her father-in-law and we both saw him drop like a sack of potatoes and screamed, and then the woman freaked out.
    Being a retired ff/paramedic, I quickly ran inside the range, told all to put down their weapons and proceeded to assess the father-in-law. He had a significant arterial bleed and when I asked the range officer (who was not inside) if they had a medical kit, he had no clue. I ran out to my vehicle to retrieve a kit I carry and applied a pressure dressing to stop the bleeding.
    My wife had torn up the range papers right after seeing a person get shot, and am still gradually trying to get her back to the range. She was not happy that they did not have a clear dress code.

  2. Esther says:

    Sorry to hear of that bad experience. TO: Johns Wife….go back and get used to the gun… I hadn’t shot in yrs & then it wasn’t a pistol, i had a little 410. NOW i have a 22LR that i started with, have an AR-15 (that i LOVE [tooooo much] to shoot, getting ready to buy a 17 Cal Rufle & have a little 308 picked out. ALL this in less than a year. Got my CCW & LOVE to go to my sons place in the country as well as an oitdoor range here & shoot as often as i can. I was beyind scated at first. BEYOND SCARED …..but i listened to my instructor, my sons & with their help i get out there and shoot. You can TOO

  3. Esther says:

    Oops….Rifle, not Rufle

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