Range Attire and Range Safety

McHenry Article

This unfortunate event occurred a couple of days ago at a range that I frequent (although I wasn’t there when this happened). This negligent discharge was easily preventable. Anyone who shoots for any period of time will have caught a piece of hot brass in his or her clothes. If not, just give it time. However, there are two things this woman could have done differently. The first (and most obvious) would have been to put the gun down immediately. Even if you’re in pain because of hot brass, you need to remove the gun from the equation, flat out dropping it, if necessary. There are a select few handguns I can think of that are not drop safe, but the majority of modern firearms are. Without knowing what kind of firearm she was using, I do know that the particular range where this happened is configured (as are many indoor ranges) with a table at waist height. If she had dropped the gun on that table, due to the height it is at, it is unlikely it would have bounced all over the place which could have cause the gun to point in an unsafe direction. I definitely recommend that anyone going to a range (indoor, outdoor, public or private) have a plan as to how to quickly get your gun out of your hands, should you need to for any reason. Before you start your range session, assess the area you are occupying and identify the safest places and methods to get your hands off the gun (whether that is dropping it or carefully reholstering). Regardless of what is happening around you, the gun in your hand needs to be your primary focus. If you cannot devote your attention to the gun, even if you are suddenly sidetracked, your safety habits need to be developed to such a level that the gun is automatically removed from the situation.


One other thing the woman had control over was her attire. Having worked at a gun range for a few years, I have seen all manner of outfits on ladies (and some really questionable ones on men, too). When going to the range, I recommend wearing a t-shirt (not a V-neck) or some other shirt with a high neckline. I do not recommend collared shirts and definitely not tank tops. Collared shirts and V-neck shirts can catch hot brass and tank tops do not cover enough skin (not to mention, on ladies, they can allow hot brass to be caught in the shirt right by the girls!). I also recommend wearing a ball cap or some other hat with a brim to help keep brass from deflecting on your surroundings and hitting you in the face. One other thing to consider, especially at outdoor ranges is coats. If you are wearing a coat, then you need to pay special attention when re-holstering so that you have fully cleared the garment from the mouth of the holster. That way the garment won’t get hung up and possibly press the trigger as the firearm is seated in the holster. Had this woman worn proper attire and had some plan to get rid of the gun quickly, shooting herself may have been avoided.


For more important lessons on the severity of negligent discharges, check out Claude Werner’s blogs about Negative Outcomes. He has a great series of articles on the topic. Always remember, safety can never be compromised. Develop your safety habits and awareness until they are second nature.

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