This summer has brought a brutal heat wave to most of America, and I’ve found it so at most of the venues where I’ve taught this season.  We’re doing OK because we take suitable precautions.  Let’s share.

In June, we had a couple of folks fade on us in mid-90s heat with oppressive humidity in Illinois. No problem.  We had an MD on site.  Water, electrolytes, shade and rest did the trick, along with the admonition not to push themselves. Hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE!

In July I taught for a couple of weeks at the Firearms Academy of Seattle in Onalaska, Washington, halfway between Seattle and Portland, Oregon. On the day I left, August 2, the Portland Oregonian newspaper reported, “A heat dome last summer claimed nearly 100 lives across Oregon, 72 of them in Multnomah County. In Portland, a new record of 116 degrees was set.”  As for the present, the paper said “As Oregon’s long heat wave finally wanes, the state’s suspected heat-related death count has reached at least 15. On Sunday, Portland recorded its seventh consecutive day with the high at 95 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, a record for the city. On the following day, the state reported 14 hyperthermia deaths in Oregon since the string of high-heat days started.”

Well, none of those deaths were the nearby shooters, who were us.  In those two weeks we doubled the water breaks, and no one minded that accordingly we ran a bit late each day. We emphasized that hydration was mandatory, for everyone’s safety. Dehydration brings on fatigue, fatigue brings on carelessness, and we were running loaded lethal weapons. I kept them in the shade whenever possible.  The second week was a MAG-80 which includes some strenuous hand-to-hand combatives; our outdoor dojo had a roof, and that helped greatly.

A tip on water when there are a bunch of you. HAVE EACH PERSON MARK THEIR WATER BOTTLES! Even before the pandemic, no one wanted anyone else’s cooties, and when they came back from the firing line and saw many identical, indistinguishable partial bottles, some abstained. FAS issues Kirkland brand bottled water, which wisely has a space to write the individual’s name on the label. Otherwise, Magic Marker on the bottlecap helps identify one’s own H20.  I had them stage their water bottle right by their ammo, so it was right there every time they refilled their magazines.

Take care, and get through this long hot summer safely. (And speaking of that MAG-80 class, we have another one coming up in Illinois in September. .)


  1. Glad I moved north. May hit 75 today with a low of 51 tomorrow morning. Of course, there is the whole 20 below & 6 feet of snow in February thing🥶

    • Your friends in Arizona and Texas will think of you fondly… when they’re wearing shorts to shoot their January and February matches! 🙂

    • I live in Texas and a few weeks ago went through Colorado, Wyoming and SD. One day it was 55 degrees briefly during a rainstorm – exactly 50 degrees cooler than it was at home. I was dumbfounded.

      Good luck!

  2. I am a BSA Shooting Sports Counselor.
    Here in Florida, the ranges during Summer Camps with youth are a significant concern.
    We use shade whenever possible, but we are highly focused on keeping the kids safe and healthy. Both on the range while shooting, and while waiting for their turn to shoot.
    Frequent reminders to keep hydrated are essential.
    We adults also watch out for each other, counselors, leaders, and parents alike because sometimes we are so focused on the scouts that we neglect ourselves.

  3. At Boy Scout camp in the summer heat, whenever we caught a kid without water (or with a Nalgene bottle that was still full) we’d interrogate him:
    “When was the last time you peed?”
    Usually they couldn’t remember, so we’d command:
    “Here, drink this while I’m standing here watching you!”
    If they said they could remember, the followup question was:
    “What color was it?”
    If they described any color (i.e. not clear) we’d command:
    “Here, drink this while I’m standing here watching you!”

  4. Would it also be sensible to have alcohol hand wipes situated right next to each shooter’s staged ammunition and water bottle, so that each shooter could cleanse his/her hands thoroughly to remove undesirable contamination, e.g. shooting session residue, bacteria or virus, before touching and handling his/her water bottle’s cap, the area of the bottle underneath the water bottle’s unscrewed cap and the body of the water bottle itself? (The previous words displayed here constitute an official “run on” question.)

    • No. Contact spread in such situations is VASTLY overrated. The alcohol and other additives in those harsh chemicals are also not healthy to put on your skin on a frequent basis.

      Personally I use water bottles designed for cycling. There is a push to close valve at the top of the bottle, easily gripped with teeth or lips, to open it when wanting to drink. KNock it over, it cannot leak. Large mouth for very fast refilling. Holds one litre. Reusable, thus eliminating the whole scehario of the waste, trash, cleanup, disposal, etc.

      Anyone who has studied microbiology at any signficant level will now that most pathogens have a VERY short life when exposed to the types of conditioins found on plastic bottle caps etc. Most of them expire in a few minutes, some in well under one minute. If they are your own, no matter. As to contamination on yur hands, learn to handle the cap, lid, etc, so as to not “deposit” anything on the surfaces your mouth will contact.
      But DO label and make sure the bottle you use next is the same one you used last time. I’d bring my own and dump the supplied water from the new containeres into my own bottle. Or, as most times, bring my own seven gallon drinking water jug of GOOD water.
      All that “hand scamitiser” meme is left over from the whole WooFlew Kabuki Theatre. I never bought it then, still have no need of it.

      • Personally I use water bottles designed for cycling.
        So do I, but it’s not quite as fancy. I find that small Coke bottles are more durable than bottled water bottles and come in a variety of sizes from eight to 20 ounces, so I bring several to each class, filled with tap water from home. Other than the water, they are essentially free. I can reuse mine, or give them to students and then recycle them.

      • @Tionoco
        Thank you for passing on the information about alcohol and other additives in hand wipes being unhealthy to apply to skin on a routine basis. I will adjust my range protocols accordingly.

      • It’s been pointed out by the President of my range, that, due to shrinkflation several years ago, some water bottles have tiny caps. As your fingers unscrew the cap, you may deposit some burnt powder on the lid of the bottle. Before they started making those tiny caps, this was not a problem. I don’t even know if it is a real problem or not, because I don’t know much medical stuff. But, it does make sense that my fingers have a better chance of contacting the lid when I unscrew a tiny cap, than when I unscrew a normal size cap.

  5. A well hydrated system (ourselves) is as important as a well oiled system. We wouldn’t let the slide go dry, would we?

  6. Been >100 degree heat index many days so far this summer in NC. Attended a class in north Georgia 4th of July weekend, and it was oppressively hot and humid as well as sunny. Had one guy in class go out with heat exhaustion symptoms, but after some medical attention, rest in an air conditioned building and lots of water, he came back after a couple of hours. Heat injuries are nothing to mess with! Heat stroke is especially serious and can cause death or organ injuries so bad you die a few years later from the effects.

  7. One of the joys of retirement is no longer running the Stress Course around this time of year. It featured running, gunning, communicating and sweating in full gear. It was such fun, especially after the point where you added the plate carrier and full emergency ammo load:(

    • WR Moore,

      In 2020, I talked to a Sheriff’s officer (I like the term “deputy,” but they don’t use it here). He told me he was in the Army when they invaded Iraq in 2003. They didn’t know if Saddam was going to use chemical weapons, so he had to wear his chemical warfare suit every day for the first month! Yuck!

      • We didn’t have to put the gas mask on until we got to the room clearing parts. I really felt for those guys in the sandbox.

  8. Miserable here in N. Texas. Luckily last year we had a VERY abnormal winter blast where it actually got down to 2 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t expect it this fall. I miss living in Colorado!

  9. Yes, hydration IS an YUUUUGE deal. I grew up as an avid cyclist in wouthern California, often covering well above a hundred miles in a day in 95+ heat. It quickly was proven to me how critical this is. I eventually learned to modulate without even thinking about it. Where I live these days is mostly quite a bit cooler, but we still get our 100+ days. I still cycle in that stuff. My body just knows how much to take and how often. Most times I ride in three hour stages without a break, empty all my bottles just about the time that fifty mark rolls around. Get off the bike, refill, eat a bit (healthy valuable calories with an intentional inclusion of the most critical minerals), take a leak, hop back on and go for the next stage.
    Particular attention to replacing the minerals a working sweating body has used/excreted is critical. And no, I do NOT use or trust the “sports drinks”, chemical soup rehydrate products, and the like. Real food selected to contain the needed components lost. I have, on more than one occasion, covered well in excess of two hundred miles in one day this way, and can (have) gotten up the next day and done it again. Even when it has been HOTTTT out there.

  10. As someone who has sustained kidney damage due to not being hydrated I cannot encourage someone enough to hydrate.

  11. A local (Mississippi) narcotics officer told me just last week they were having heat stress due to the body armor and plates, coupled with outside raid activity. He’s using pedialyte.

    Note that plenty of hydration alone may not be adequate for safety. Depending on the weather conditions PLUS the health condition of the individual and the activity involved, one can easily have a heat stroke while at the same time not being dehydrated. Be careful.

  12. The recently reported inappropriate shooting at a Cincinnati FBI office somehow involving a nail gun reminds me of the novelist Stephen Hunter’s famous fictional expert rifle shot Bob Lee (“The Nailer”) Swagger. Was not a shooter identifying too literally thereby at the FBI?
    Even more alarming, I just realized how many of the Hunter novels that I have not yet read. Gotta get down to the library today, pay my “overdue” fine, and check out more books.
    I was glad to see at least one armed FBI agent at the recent Great Mar-a-Largo Garland Wray (here I would like to say “Gang,” but shall somewhat refrain, just to be safe) Raid. IMHO, the Secret Service needs all the help they can get vs. deranged fanatics, whom I do not wish to name specifically herein, as too many obtain, and none should be omitted.

  13. I should have said “Mar-a-Lago” above instead of “Largo.’ “Lago” means “lake” in Spanish, of course, and “largo” means “long.” One of my favorite Florida-based movies is “Key Largo,” with Humphrey Bogart as Major Frank McCloud, WWII veteran good guy, and Edward G. Robinson as Johnny Rocco, a deported alien gangster with ruthless survival skills. The movie has a little bang-bang, Lauren Bacall, Claire Trevor, and a director named John Huston, who had made the classic documentary, “The Battle of San Pietro,” in Italy, under fire! I knew a veteran who was severely wounded in that battle. He may be rolling in his grave now regarding the dirty political attack lately in Florida. What was he fighting to preserve in his two-and-a-half years of uphill overseas combat? Not disaster here!

  14. Back in June of 1999, I took a defensive shotgun course. This was a “One Day” course (on a Saturday) that ran from about 8:00 AM until almost 6:00 PM. It was the “hottest” class that I ever took. I don’t remember the actual air temperature but I remember that the “Heat Index” hit 110 that day.

    To avoid heat stroke, the instructor did two things. He encouraged everyone to drink plenty of fluids. He had a cooler filled with Gatorade and with paper cups from which we could drink. Plus everyone had a cooler with more cold drinks. There was also a small classroom on site with a air-conditioner in the window. This room was kept at a comfortable temperature.

    The instructor would run training exercises on the outdoor range. In between training exercises, the instructor would have us grab something to drink and we would go into the “cool room” to discuss the training and talk out the next exercise. These 15 or 20 minute cool-down periods helped keep everyone from overheating.

    By the end of the day, I had consumed every drop of fluids that I had brought with me. I dumped the ice-water from my cooler over my head there at the end. That is how hot it was. Despite drinking a lot all day long, I did not have to hit the local Port-o-Potty even once. I had sweated out everything that I drank!

    Despite the excessive heat, this class was done safely. No student became sick or overheated during that long day of training. We were dog tired but still healthy at the close of the day. So, as Mas notes above, drinking plenty of fluids is CRITICAL to doing such training in very hot weather.

    Sadly, I am becoming too “long in the tooth” to put myself through such training today! 🙂

  15. I would advise you to give Drip Drop Oral Rehydration Solution a try. It was developed by a Doctor and comes in small powdered sticks that mix with 8oz of water. Great tasting flavors and lower sugar content than other ORS.

  16. Quote of the Day:

    “War is an ill thing, as I surely know. But ‘t would be an ill world for weaponless dreamers if evil men were not now and then slain.”.

    Rudyard Kipling

    • TN_MAN,

      Excellent quote, but it reminds me of something Jeff Cooper wrote. I remember him writing that, the problem with war is, you don’t necessarily get to kill evil men. In fact, probably most men serving in a war are not worthy of death. They are fighting because their government told them to, and if they don’t fight, bad things will happen to them, up to and possibly including execution.

      World War I really bothers me. I see governments forcing their young men to kill each other, while the leaders remain in safety. And, look at the leaders. Three of them were cousins, the grandsons of Queen Victoria. It is true that Nicky, (Czar Nicholas II) did eventually suffer when the Communist revolutionaries killed him and his family. Willy (Kaiser Wihelm II) had to leave Germany after abdicating, and spent the rest of his life in Holland. Is that suffering? I guess his ego was bruised.

      Life is not fair, and when good people suffer in war, but not evil people, that is really unfair. But we can’t do much to change that, that’s just the way this world is.

      I wish the American Legal System was more interested in true justice. Our system has been pathetic for a long time. The taxpayers pay for government, and all its programs, and they don’t get their moneys’ worth. Our government has the ability to execute evil men, but they don’t do it often enough. Many evil men are living too good a life in prison. If our government lets a criminals out of prison, then it is aiding and abetting criminals, isn’t it?

      • @ Roger Willco – “…you don’t necessarily get to kill evil men…”

        Very often it is true. However, good people are sometimes coerced into supporting an evil government. This takes the “shine” off of their “goodness”.

        Remember that it is my philosophy that all humans are inherently evil (That is what makes me a Conservative rather than a Leftist!) It takes an effort, and the development of a moral center, to be good.

        A war that opposes an evil government, or an evil system, is justified.

        For example, I don’t have any problem calling the Nazis evil.

      • TN_MAN:

        “…all humans are inherently evil…takes an effort…to be good.”

        I’m too lazy to try and be good, therefore I’m still evil, and the proof is that I’m a supporter of Donald Trump, the ultimate King of Evil.

  17. Roger Willco August 14, 2022 At 7:31 pm:

    World War I really bothers me. I see governments forcing their young men to kill each other, while the leaders remain in safety.
    The leaders were nearly all old men, past useful military service. But many scions of the “ruling class” served. The future King George VI commanded a main gun turret on the battleship HMS Collingwood at the battle of Jutland. Many died. Eton College (Britain’s most elite “public school”) lists 1,157 dead on its WW I memorial.

    And some of the leaders were themselves veterans: Winston Churchill, who was First Lord of the Admiralty, had been under fire in India, the Sudan, and South Africa. When he left the Admiralty after the Gallipoli fiasco, he spent several months as a front-line battalion commander in France.

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