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4 min read
If you live in a cold climate, you’re likely planning to put away your range bag for the next few months, if you haven’t already. But if you carry a gun, it’s essential to train when it's cold outside.
Practicing your shooting skills outside in the winter has many benefits, as long as you're prepared. Here are some tips to help you safely and successfully train with your gun in cold weather.
We know it can be challenging and uncomfortable to shoot in cold weather. We would all like to be at home sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace on chilly days, but cold weather practice should be done at least a couple of times a year. Since you can't predict when you might need to use your gun for self-defense, practicing in every weather condition is the best way to make sure you’re prepared for any situation.
Training with your firearm in cold weather is the only way to understand how it affects your performance. You need to experience how your body and mind will react in cold conditions — the gun will feel different in your hand and your motor skills will not be as sharp. If you know what it feels like to shoot in the cold, you won't be caught off guard if you're ever in a defensive situation and have to use your gun.
There are some things you can do to make winter trips to the outdoor range more bearable. The following tips will help you have a better range trip when it's cold outside:
You need to stay warm on the range without getting so bundled up that it restricts your movement. Dressing in layers is the solution. Even when it’s freezing, it’s not hard to work up a sweat during a practice session, so layering can keep you warm while allowing you to shed some clothing if necessary.
If you have moisture-wicking base layers, this is a good time to wear them. It’s also a good idea to bring a couple of extra pairs of socks, in case you get the pair you’re wearing wet. Hats are also helpful to wear to keep your head warm and dry.
You probably already know that manipulating small things with cold hands, like loading magazines, can be difficult and frustrating. There’s actually science behind it — cold weather constricts the blood vessels surrounding our extremities, rerouting blood flow to our vital organs to keep them warm. This leads to cold hands and feet, as well as reduced movement and stiffness due to lowered chemical levels.
There are a few things you can pack in your range back that will make shooting when it’s cold outside a little more bearable. If you find your hands are getting too cold at the range, investing in a pair of shooting gloves can help. These gloves are designed to keep your fingers warm and still allow you to operate the gun. A high-quality pair of shooting gloves will withstand the elements, and some even have features like touchscreen capability.
A magazine loader like the UpLULA comes in very handy when the temperatures dip. It makes jamming those rounds into your mags much easier, even if you’re wearing gloves. Additionally, it can help reduce the pain associated with loading magazines over and over.
Hand warmers are also a great thing to keep packed in your shooting range bag. They don’t take up much space and that little bit of warmth can make a big difference in your ability to manipulate your hands and fingers. You can purchase reusable warmers or the disposable type, which are inexpensive and don’t take up much space in your bag.
While keeping your equipment in good shape is always the right thing to do, it’s especially important when shooting in cold weather. Make sure your equipment stays as dry as possible since moisture and water can have negative effects on guns. Using a high-quality range bag or backpack can help minimize your risk of exposure. If you’re shooting at a bench, putting a range mat down can help keep some distance between your firearm and a damp surface.
As always, your firearms will need to be well-oiled and lubricated, just make sure you’re using an oil or grease that can handle cold temperatures — not all of them are designed for cold weather. If you use products that aren't rated for low temperatures, it could gum up your gun, which can cause malfunctions.
Don’t risk frostbite or hypothermia by staying in the elements too long. Try to pick a day when the weather will be relatively warm and there’s no chance of rain or snow. don’t hesitate to leave if you start feeling uncomfortable, and don't feel bad about leaving if you need to!
Preparing in advance by choosing a few shooting drills or targets will allow you to get a good session without spending a lot of extra time setting up. Monitor yourself for signs of physical concerns and be extra conservative about your safety if you are in any way uncertain about how much time you can spend outside in cold weather.
Training with your gun in the cold weather can be challenging, but it's important to be prepared for any situation. Keeping these tips in mind will help you train in the cold safely and effectively. You don't have to wait until spring to start practicing again - get started now!
This article is not meant to be medical advice. Use common sense and have fun!
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