Navigating the world of firearms as a new shooter can be intimidating and confusing. One important detail to be prepared for is what to wear to a gun range.
During my time working at an indoor gun range, I had a front row seat to the do’s and don’ts of proper range attire. Not only will the right clothing and gear keep you comfortable at the range, it will also keep you safe.
If you’re a new shooter about to take on your first trip to the range, keep reading for some important tips on what you should wear to a gun range.
What to Wear to a Gun Range: Shooter’s Dress Code
What to wear to a gun range:
- Eye protection
- Ear Protection
- Baseball hat
- Closed toe shoes
- High-cut shirt
- Comfortable Pants
Eye and Ear Protection
Most ranges require eye and ear protection and you don’t want to shoot without them. Some gun ranges may have some you can rent, but I prefer to have my own.
Shooting glasses will aid in keeping your eyes safe from flying fragments that are common at the range. Be sure to grab eye protection that are ballistic rated specifically for shooting, like the Champion Ballistic Shooting Glasses.
Guns are loud and you want to protect your ears from the loud blasts with ear plugs or earmuffs. Some people find that simple ear plugs work. I prefer electronic earmuffs like the Howard Leight Import Sport Earmuffs. They lower the sound of gunshots, but allow you to hear when others are speaking at a normal level.
Whether it’s sunny out or not, a baseball cap, or hat with a brim, is a must-have for the range. Not only will it keep the sun out of your eyes, but it will protect your face from fragments or brass falling behind your shooting glasses. Noted firearms instructor Claude Werner has a great example of what can happen when you don’t wear a hat.
Closed Toe Shoes
When shooting semi-auto guns, brass casings will likely be flying around you as they are ejected. Brass that has just been ejected is HOT. Trust me when I tell you that stepping on hot brass on the ground is not a fun time. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes to prevent this. When I shoot at outdoor ranges where I’ll be moving and shooting, I prefer shoes that offer ankle support to keep me stable on my feet.
As I mentioned earlier, spent casings will be flying and they are hot. If you wear a low-cut top, you’re risking having the hot brass fly down your shirt. This happened to a shooter at the range I worked at. The shooter was so distracted by the hot brass that they completely forgot about gun safety. With gun still in hand, they tried to shake the brass out of their shirt, pointing the gun in an unsafe direction. This is dangerous for the shooter and everyone around and won’t make you any friends. I’ve also seen hot brass fly down through the arm holes of loose tank tops, causing brass burns on the shooter’s side.
If you will be shooting from a holster, avoid wearing a loose shirt. The shirt can get caught in the holster when the shooter is holstering their gun, catching the trigger and causing a negligent discharge. Proper holstering technique will reduce your chances of this happening.
Of course, there are plenty of experienced shooters who wear loose or low-cut shirts when shooting and do just fine. Keep in mind that you’re exposing your body to hot brass, and if a piece finds its way into your shirt, it is your responsibility to keep your finger off the trigger and gun pointed in a safe direction.
Lastly, you’ll want to be sure you have comfortable, sturdy pants on. If you will be using a holster, you’ll need a strong belt as well. First time shooters will probably be fine with any pants that fit. Brands like LA Police Gear and 5.11 offer pants for both men and women that can stand up to the demands of shooting while still being comfortable. I prefer pants that offer a little stretch, have plenty of pockets to hold my magazines, and have extra or reinforced belt loops to hold up my belt and holster. In the warmer months you can also wear shorts, but remember to be mindful of hot brass hitting your exposed skin.
What Not to Wear to the Gun Range
Lastly, let’s cover what you shouldn’t wear to the gun range.
- Low cut shirts
- Anything you don’t want to get dirty
- Clothing that will interfere with safety
- Open-toed shoes
Ultimately, check the rules of the range first, then dress for comfort and safety. Once you have your range attire picked out, you’re ready for a successful range trip!