Just like the salt you put on your walkway in winter and each workplace provides PPE and safety briefings, the gear you need to use at the range is some of the most important that you’ll ever use. It is also a requirement by all gun clubs and ranges.
Each range or club will provide all new members with a one day safety course. It will cover what was taught in the Non-restricted and Restricted PAL courses. Plus, they will tell you the specific gear they require you to use while shooting at their club. Most also have a probationary period in which you have to complete a set number of hours or sessions with a senior member or paired up with a range officer.
The most important things that you need to consider, outside of safe shooting practices, is personal safety gear. You only have one body so taking care of it is paramount. If you wish to have your vision for the duration of your life and enjoy hearing your loved ones speak to you, then be sure to follow the advice of your local club. Below we have listed the basic gear required for safe shooting in an outdoor club environment.
1. Eye Protection
There are many reasons for which you need to protect your eyes. One of the most dangerous items that could threaten your eye health is a spent cartridge. They have been know to eject from a firearm and pop up into your face and eyes. A good solid pair of shooting glasses could be your only line of defence against vision trauma and loss of vision. Depending on your budget, and we recommend using a proper ballistic rated lens, there are many options for you to choose from. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic – Matte Black Frame Smoke Lens
- Walkers Amber Lens Shooting Glasses
2. Hearing Protection
A subtle ringing in your ears is not something that you would ever want to experience after a day of shooting. That denotes hearing damage and is not reversible. Like eye protection devices, protecting your hearing is one of the most important investments you can make in yourself. While shooting in an outdoor environment is slightly less damaging to your ears, it still poses a serious risk of hearing impairment over time. Using ear plugs compared to ear muffs may not give you the full protection that you need. Always check the manufacturers recommendations on use before deploying them at the range. We recommend the following:
- Radians Silencer Hearing Protection
- Howard Leight Thunder T2 Ear Muffs
- Honeywell Leight Impact Sport Earmuff – Tactical
3. Proper footwear
The importance of proper footwear is grossly undervalued by many.Think of your feet as your foundation. Without a good pair of shoes, you are leaving balance and stability to chance which will leave your shooting in a state of inconsistency. You always want a good sturdy, stable pair of shoes to be comfortable in all types of environments and climates. There is nothing that will end a day at the range faster than a pair of soaking wet, freezing cold feet. Look for comfort, protection and consider the multiple uses for which you’ll need them. Avoid shoes with open toes or sandal style shoes as they will offer no protection.
4. Proper clothing
I have actually seen people at the range with most of their skin showing. In the heat of summer this is understandable. However, if spent casings fly up and out of your firearm and land down the front of an open or low cut shirt, you’ll know it! Best thing to do is make sure that you cover what you can and use a common sense approach to your clothing. If you are outside shooting in the winter, be sure to wear clothing that will protect you from the cold while not limiting your mobility or ability to operate your firearm safely. Safety is always paramount and if that is compromised by your gear, it may be time to research and purchase something different.
There you have it. Some simple gear options to consider when joining an outdoor club or range. Weather, environment and club/range rules will dictate what you should be using. If in doubt, always talk to your range master or another senior club/range member. They will have the best experience when it comes to what is required by rules and what is most effective (least disruptive) to maintain safety and comfort while shooting. So gear up, get out there and have fun. Never forget…safety first!