Picking the right thing to wear is usually easy. For graduations you can never go wrong with a David Pearson T-shirt. For job interviews, a Richard Petty T-shirt. And for weddings, when you really need to show your respect, you should wear no less than a Bobby Allison T-shirt – preferably with a matching Bobby Allison hat.
But a lot of new shooters run into a wall because they’re not sure what to wear at a gun range. Well, as you can already tell we are something of a fashion expert here at AmmoForSale.com, so we’re going to tell you what apparel is both practical and respectful to wear to the gun range.
What to Wear to the Gun Range
- Protection. No, not that kind of protection. We’re talking about eye protection and hearing protection, commonly referred to as “eyes and ears.” Responsible ranges won’t even let you near the firing line without eyes and ears, so make sure you have earplugs or earmuffs and a good set of snug fitting safety glasses. Some ranges don’t allow earplugs anymore, so you may want to make sure whether earmuffs are required ahead of time. And if you already wear glasses for your eyesight, don’t imagine for a moment that they’re designed to stop a ricochet or splash-back. All you’ll get on top of your potentially blinding injury is a broken pair of glasses!
- Hat. A hat doesn’t just keep the sun out of your eyes and conceal your receding hairline. Its brim can also deflect hot shell casings that have ejected out of a semi-automatic, and those are as fun to have batting into your face as it sounds.
- Pants. We assume you were going to wear some form of pants to the range anyway, but long pants are advisable for further protection from hot shell casings. They’re no fun when they land in between your sock and your shoe, either. Loose fitting pants that will let you take a comfortable firing stance are best – none of that painted-on hipster nonsense. Pants with big cargo pockets are also nice because they can store your ammo, magazines, and root beer sucker for celebrating a successful target practice afterward.
- Shirt. Not just any shirt will do. Once again, preventing shell casings from touching any part of your skin is the goal here, so tank tops, V-necks, muscle shirts, and anything else like them is no good. Long sleeve shirts are best, although it can get hot inside poorly ventilated indoor ranges for obvious reasons. No one’s going to shoot you dirty looks if you need some exposed skin.
- Shoes. Leave your Birkenstocks at home, hippie. Open-toed shoes like flip flops and sandals will inevitably permit one of those dreaded hot shell casings to land in between your toes. Wear no less than a pair of sneakers or boots – something comfortable, since you’ll be on your feet for a while.
- Jewelry. Best avoided. Bracelets and necklaces can get snagged by something, and even a wristwatch could potentially worsen your grip on a pistol.
Some Other Range Tips
- Dress Codes. Believe it or not, a lot of ranges have dress codes! If you’re not certain whether a certain range requires a collared shirt or some other classy apparel, give them a call ahead of time.
- Ammo That Attracts Magnets. You will also want to check with a range in advance before you bring in ammo that attracts a magnet. This typically refers to ammo with bullets that contain steel, which are more economical at the expense of having a higher chance of causing sparks, ricochets, or damage to range equipment. Common magnetic ammo brands include Wolf, Red Army Standard, and Tula (aka TulAmmo).
- Holsters. You are certainly allowed to wear your holster to a gun range. Just take care that some ranges don’t allow shooters to practice holster drawing at the firing line. This is a safety precaution on their part. They want to make sure no one is ever pointing a firearm in any direction with the exception of downrange.
- Dedicated Range Clothing. It is advisable to set aside shoes and clothing that you will exclusively wear to the range. Indoor ranges in particular have a lot of airborne lead particles that you may not want to track back into your car or home.=
- Political Apparel. Whether or not you wear your Thomas E. Dewey hat to the range is totally up to you. With that said, maybe keep in mind that a lot of shooters haven’t yet learned to espouse the correct political opinions – and by those we mean your own political opinions.
- Sun Block. The only thing that looks dorkier than putting on sunblock is having a sunburn. If you’re going to spend a lot of time at an outdoor range on a sunny day, you’ll probably want to slather your neck with SPF 50.
And as always, never forget to obey Colonel Jeff Cooper’s four basic rules of gun safety:
- All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
- Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
- Identify your target and what is behind it.