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.
- Wear sturdy, closed-toe footwear.
- Be ready to sacrifice the manicure.
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.
- Cleavage is not always your friend.
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.
- Contain hair and shield eyes
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.