Chances are, if you spend your free time at the shooting range, you’re already “cool,” in my book. But really, that’s not what I’m talking about. As summer temps rise, and shooting competitions are already well under way, many recreational and professional shooters look for ways to beat the heat while out on the range.
I’ll be shooting in my first competition at the end of week — the Shooting Industry Masters in Cody, Wyo., as a representative for Hot Caliber! I’m a little nervous and also a little OCD, so I’ve been packing and unpacking my suitcase for a week now. While trying to figure out ways to stay cool and also what exactly to put in my tiny carry-on, I found myself wondering if wearing shorts while shooting in competitions is acceptable. Pants seem too hot, but I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable in short shorts.
I decided to take a little poll on my Facebook page, as well as ask a few female professional shooters that I know. Here are the results of my very scientific survey:
Opinions from Facebook peeps
Kevin Dee (shooting the Masters on Team Timney Triggers) said, “I’m wearing short shorts, that’s for dang sure!”
Annette Evans said, “I shoot in hiking skirts (that have built in shorts) in the summer. A bit rough if you have to kneel or go prone, but not too bad. Comfort is definitely the key (and personally, why I wouldn’t wear booty shorts or tight shorts generally). Not to mention it is tough to shoot well if you’re dying of heat.”
Jay Grazio said, “I have shot in a kilt many times. Just be careful picking up brass …”
Tips from the pros
Julie Golob, captain of Team Smith & Wesson, recommends staying in the shade as much as possible, as well as making sure to stay hydrated while spending time at outdoor shooting ranges.
Julie said, “Whether I wear shorts or pants will depend on what sport I am competing in. If I am shooting handgun matches like IPSC, IDPA or Steel Challenge, I like to wear shorts when it is hot. I have some Calvin Klein cargo shorts that I bought probably a dozen pairs of a few years ago that I wear until I wear ‘em out. I am always on the look out to restock my supply as it is a challenge to find shorts that fit the way I like and have large and strong enough belt loops for my Safariland rig.”
Julie also noted that if she is shooting 3-Gun she almost always wears pants, due to the physical nature of the competition and also shooting from prone and kneeling positions. “Pants not only help protect my knees, but also if I am shooting from a platform that’s been in the sun all day, I am less likely to be distracted by searing skin,” said Julie.
Randi Rogers, professional shooter and marketing/sales manager for Comp-Tac Victory Gear, has a secret to staying cool while shooting in the hot summer sun. Randi said, “It seems like if I wear sunscreen, I don’t get as worn out and tired. I’m not a scientist but I think it has something to do with the protecting myself from the UV rays. I also try to stay in the shade, drink lots of water and use a wet towel or bandana on my neck.”
Randi is a fan of Columbia Omni Dry shorts and likes their quick-drying, moisture wicking capabilities.
The Junior Team Captain for Team Smith & Wesson, Molly Smith certainly has the “cool factor.” She said, “To stay cool at the range, I, of course, keep my sunglasses on. Sometimes, when I want to be more than just ‘cool’ I look over the top of my sunglasses and nod at people. Unfortunately people see through that and tease me … not so cool!”
For Molly, modesty is key when competing. She said, “I wear lightweight capri pants that fall right above the knee. Modesty is a huge factor for me, and dressing conservatively has a lot of benefits. One factor is that I won’t worry about what other people think of my body. It’s hidden, so the world will never know! When I shoot, the focus has to be on the target, the stage and the task at hand. There is also the matter of being a lady — I strive to have composure and manners of a lady, and keeping covered is one of those aspects. It’s not an ‘old-fashioned’ or ‘backwards’ belief for me. It’s something that I choose to implement in my life because I desire respect, not attention. It’s something I believe personally, but I do not reflect this upon others. There are different levels of modesty that women have and are comfortable with, and I believe they can still be ladies. For me, I wear capris!”
Luckily for me, I found a few pairs of Columbia zipp-off pants that I wore during my first safari to Africa over a decade ago. When the pant legs are zipped off into shorts, they hit just above the knee. I think they will be perfect for the Masters and they are even olive green color — very “tacti-cool.”
So tell me, what do you do to stay cool on the range? Do you wear short shorts?