WON Landing Page OCT 2022

What Not to Wear to the Shooting Range

As more women enter the world of shooting sports, the need to address “What Not to Wear” to the shooting range increases. Of course, the first thing a new shooter needs to do is take a firearms safety course. At the class, the instructor may or may not discuss apparel to wear on range days. The priority is to be safe while handling firearms.


No matter what type of shooting you choose, you need to take a moment to research dress codes before you head to the range. If the club you’ll be shooting at doesn’t have a written dress code, take a moment to think about how you’ll decide what to wear.

Summer temperatures entice people to wear lighter weight clothing. Depending on what region you live, staying cool can be a priority to a lot of people. While you’re thinking of keeping cool, don’t forget about gun safety and your representation of the gun-owning community.


The perfect example of what NOT to wear!

Ideally, gun handlers need to be good representatives to our population, regardless of where they go to shoot. At the shooting range, a general rule is, “the attire should resemble the expectation of the community.” That means, in the hot Houston humidity, you’ll not only be uncomfortable wearing a collared, button down shirt and jacket. You’ll look out of place too. However, if you’re at a private club in a cooler climate, a sport coat may be suitable.

Dress codes are often more than a direction for fashion. At shooting ranges, many serve the purpose of keeping you safe at the range.

What if there isn’t a dress code? What not to wear.

Tank Tops

Although you’ll need to use your discretion, spaghetti strap shirts may not be the best choice in shirts to wear the outdoor pistol range. You never know when hot brass, ejected from your neighbor’s semi-auto handgun, will fly in your direction. Hot brass will scald bare skin. You’ll need to decide whether you’ll have sunburned skin or brass burned skin.


Brass ejected from a pistol can land anywhere. (Bob Doerr photo)

When looking for shirts to wear on hot days, look for fabrics that are moisture wicking, quick drying and have anti-microbial features. You can also look for shirts with modern technology in fabrics, which have self-cooling properties. Stay comfortable and safe at the range.

Short Shorts

Imagine you’re at the range, learning to shoot for practical self-defense. You have to move fast, change positions and next thing you know, you’re belly down on the gravel range. Hot gravel can also burn your legs, but then again, you also don’t want parts of your backside exposed as your transitioning from standing to prone position. There again you need to practice safe firearms handling, so you won’t be able to use your free hand to adjust shorts that have relocated to a not so comfortable position.


In defensive shooting courses always wear pants. (Alex Landeen photo)

There are several factors to look for in a pair of shorts. Watch as Julie Golob shares her quest of the ‘Perfect Shooting Short’ in a video she shared, here at The WON.

Open-Toed Shoes

Depending on what genre of shooting you’re partaking in, you may or may not see flip-flops or open toed shoes. On a tactical course, or sporting clays course, closed toed shoes are a must. At a trap range, you may see someone wearing sandals. For the most part, hulls shouldn’t be hitting your toes, but there is always a chance of getting your toes burned.

Why would you see sandals at a trap shoot, but not a sporting clays shoot? The difference comes in the terrain. While shooting sporting, you may be hiking through sticks or brush, maneuvering from one stand to the next. On a tactical course, you’ll be moving rapidly through a variety of terrains. Rocks in your sandals are one thing to contend with, but a stick between the toes is going to ruin your day. Trap ranges generally allow you to remain on concrete walkways and pads.

Remember, safety is the number one priority on the range. We need protect our eyes and ears. We should also protect our appendages. Wear appropriate clothing to ensure smooth operation of your firearm and also reduce the risk of burn or other injury.

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    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.