Alert, fellow shooters: if we’re pursuing our live fire interests outdoors, we’re doing so at the hottest time of the year.

Heat brings on fatigue. Fatigue brings on carelessness.  We’re handling loaded firearms.  You don’t need me to tell you what risks ensue.

So far this summer, we’ve taught outdoor live fire classes during record heat in two venues, South Dakota and Utah.  We made it through fine and safe, with the following protocols.

HYDRATE!  Lots of water.  We always have plenty of H2O on the range, and tell the students to mark their water bottle and leave it with their ammo supply, to remind them to hydrate every time they refill their magazines.  We’ve always told them to mark their bottle as their own – markers provided, cut your initials into the bottle cap with the tip of your pocket knife, whatever – because it’s human nature not to want to drink out of someone else’s Dasani when you go back uprange and all those bottles look alike.  That is an order of magnitude more important now, during The Time Of The Plague. 

It’s a good idea to remember electrolytes, too.

We always have EMTs, paramedics, or other medically trained personnel on the firing line. We’ve had people collapse from heat stroke stubbornness when they were too stupid to hydrate.  We have long since made it mandatory.

Don’t wait ‘til you’re thirsty…that’s too late.  Physiologists I’ve talked to tell me it’s important to swill down some water at least every fifteen minutes when you’re outdoors in this type of weather.  We give frequent potty breaks, but remind our students that while expelling liquid is between you and your bladder, taking water on board is mandatory for the safety of all.  If you aren’t urinating, you’re not hydrating enough.

We are thankful for cloudy days this time of year, but remember, you’re still dehydrating out there.

We got through those local record heat days by having them shoot in the mornings, when it was coolest, and giving them the deadly force and tactics lectures indoors where it was air-conditioned during the hottest part of the days.  Twice, that meant no shooting at all on the first of four days, since we had to give the intensive safety lectures indoors first.

And don’t neglect headgear and, particularly for you palefaces, sunblock. 

As they said on the great old TV cop show Hill Street Blues:  “Hey! Let’s be careful out there!”


  1. Speaking of the Guns of August… Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, a few British troops are out and about to rescue stranded country-people. Never have the Allies had a better chance than right now to join in and put the hammer on the exposed guerrillas that have occupied Kabul. First, drop some real big airburst aerial bombs over Bagram Base. Will kill or stun every joy-riding, wannabe enemy hero aboveground. Follow quickly with Air Assault troops. Then send scout-sniper teams along with Airborne troops to knock off every lousy rodent in and around town that sticks its head up. Organize the re-occupation by small, company-size teams SUPPORTED by their own battalions. Cohesion and support, @#$%! Then watch the remaining rats desert Dodge City even faster than Curly Bill and Bad Bob, back in the day. Send the Sec-Def and CJC to lead the charge. Their job, @#$%&! I would even help drag the esteemed “leadership” into the fight. Live up to responsibility! Happy retirement. Joe.

    • Instead of spending huge amounts of money to destroy many thousands of AK-47 rifles and millions of 7.62X39mm cartridges captured and found in Iraq, we should have given them to the Afghan Army and civilians to combat the Taliban with. Now the Taliban thugs have thousands of M-16 rifles equipped with Trijicon ACOG sights and large numbers of night vision devices which will make future combat engagements with them more dangerous for our troops. This in addition to hundreds of Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, other aircraft and over 70K vehicles including armored vehicles which should have been recovered or destroyed to prevent the enemy from using them against us in the future. All equipment in our military bases and the U.S. embassy should be destroyed and the buildings blown up before we leave Afghanistan. Too late now. China, Russia, Iran and all terrorists appreciate what you have done, Crooked Joe (or the Commies who pulls his strings).

      • Tom606,

        Every non-Taliban person stuck in Afghanistan should find a weapon, and kill as many Taliban as they can. Might as well die fighting evil. Evil is going to kill or enslave them anyway. Go down fighting. Live free or die. (Notice how we have not learned the lessons from Vietnam.)

        Of course, it is easy for me to type this while sitting in my cushy, push-button, comfortable, middle-class American bubble.

      • Roger:

        I believe in the old saying “Better to die on your feet than live on your knees”.

        I can only make that decision for myself though. Having a family who is threatened with death or worse by evil creatures can change that way of thinking.

  2. Make sure to bring something to eat too, juice, fruit, etc…to keep that blood sugar level up. If your urine is not clear or light colored you are not hydrating enough. Lightweight & light colored clothing too. Summer shooting is always fun in Florida with high temps & extra high humidity.

    • Truth. Drinking frequently is essential; however, if you are not snacking too you may “washout” your electrolytes and crash. Any snacky foods (crackers, granola bars, dried fruit, etc.) washed down with a few glugs of water will do more for you than water alone. A couple of bites or a handful, with water, is usually all that you need to keep the electrolyte engine running smoothly. Oh, and the test for adequate hydration? The color of your pee. If it has gone from light yellow (good) to orangish (not so good) or darker (ah oh!), you have fallen behind and need to catch up.

  3. Sound advice on the need to hydrate. The downward descent to heat exhaustion or stroke happens very quickly: a lesson I learned in the mid-July Florida heat. Now, I drink as much water as necessary to keep the stream regular and pale yellow.

    As far as the Afghanistan travesty and complete sell out of our wonderful patriotic warriors- not to mention the ongoing invasion at the southern border, inflation, failed response to COVID-19, and continued erosion of our freedom…

    Where are the calls for the IMMEDIATE resignation of the President, Vice President, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense? I’m sure I’ve missed some.

    I guess we shouldn’t expect any such calls from the useless GOP.

    How long before the drive-by media and Marxists (Democrats) shift the focus to bringing in all Afghan refugees that we must now support? And anyone who protests this additional misappropriation of our tax money (ie, redistribution) is a racist. Oh wait, that is already starting.

    Pizza for everybody- unless you are an American citizen.

    What will it take for people to wake up?

    • VinFromNewYork,

      Most of our problems could be fixed or at least managed if the USA had intelligent voters. Too many of us, maybe half, are dumbed-down when it comes to politics and economics. But voting may no longer matter. The Democrats stole the 2020 Presidential election. Why can’t they steal the mid-term election in 2022, and the next Presidential election in 2024?

      The Founding Fathers had to endure “. . . a long train of abuses” before they rebelled. Even then, they didn’t use violence until the King sent General Gage to confiscate the weapons of the Lexington, Massachusetts militia.

      For now, the Communists are winning. Their enforcement arm, Antifa, is able to use violence and intimidation without getting arrested. But, if we change our peaceful tactics, and try to use violence and intimidation like Antifa does, we will be arrested. We are losing, and I guess our long train of abuses is not long enough.

      As far as people waking up, most of us see what is going on, but we don’t want to do anything to upset our comfortable lives. So far, life is still bearable, and even enjoyable. We are not like Venezuela yet.

      • Roger:

        Once the liberals make it possible for the millions of illegal invaders in our country to vote, the Demoncrats will win every election in the future for eternity. Even if only 55% of illegals vote Demoncrat, they will control the government forever, but I believe it will be more like 95% as they want all that Free Stuff promised them by the liberals.

  4. great ideas but will not happen. Beijing Biden has to have the desire to do something, anything, before anything is accomplished. He ain’t got it. he’d rather sacrifice our people for expediency to resume nappy poo in Delaware.

  5. My first Boy Scout experiences were in the Mojave Desert. Back then we ate salt pills for electrolytes. NOT recommended today. Our scoutmaster (my father) taught us why there was so much salad and fruit in our menu.

    We learned two vital lessons about water:
    1. Drink more than you think you need.
    2. Don’t camp in dry streambeds where it can sneak up on you.

    That was 1958-60, long before water came in Dasani bottles. (Remember, the whole individually-bottled water industry didn’t exist until long after most of us began shooting.) The water I take to the range these days tends to be tap water in recycled Coke bottles, since they’re lots cheaper and much more durable.

    • Oh yes, salt tablets! So many fond (sarcasm alert) memories of those from Columbus, GA’s wonderful climate in July/August…

  6. Mas.
    I recall i think being on one of your courses back in the early 1990’s and one of the people attending collapsed with heatstroke and had to be looked after by some of us until an ambulance arrived and he received medical attention.

  7. Real important stuff to remember, uncle Mas. When I was in the service we were told that the Israelis actually have a kind of forced hydration in that it’s mandatory for the troops afield to drink a certain amount (measured) of water at regular supervised intervals. It works, never let your guard down.

    • Paul,

      I went through Basic Training for the USAF in the winter of 1983/84 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. We had to drink four medium-sized glasses of water with every meal. I’m sure this rule was initiated during a summer, but the bureaucracy ensured that the rule was kept year round. Oh well, that’s a bureaucratic rule which does more good than harm.

  8. My hottest training class was about a dozen years ago. It was a “Defensive Shotgun” course that included (mainly) shotgun training. However, we also wore sidearms and practiced transitioning from shotgun to handgun and back again.

    This class was held toward the end of June during a heat wave. The temperature was about 100 degrees in the shade with a heat index of over 110. The instructor also warned about proper hydration and we drank heavily. Mainly bottled water and sports drinks like gator-aid. We also had a small trailer, on site, that was set up as a class-room. Normally, only a morning session was spent on class-room training with most of the time being training on the outdoor range.

    It was so hot, however, that the instructor would bring us into the trailer about 15 min. out of every hour. He would talk about the last range session and then the set up for the next range session while in the trailer. This trailer had a small, air-conditioning unit in a window and it was like a cool paradise after doing an exercise in the inferno outside. The instructor was using the trailer to let us “cool down” so as to avoid anything like heat stroke.

    Despite drinking up every drop of available fluids, I did not have to hit the port-o-potty to release any liquid. I was sweating it out as fast as I was pouring it in. Toward the end of the class, we ran out of drinkable fluids. All I had was ice-water in my cooler from the melted ice. I poured this over my head there at the end! 🙂

    No one was felled with heat stroke during this training session. However, EVERYBODY was certainly complaining about how hot it was. Despite the grousing, no one gave up and quit. Every student struck it out and it was a long 10 to 12 hour day as I remember.

    Along with the “Thousand-Year” storm-event training-session that I was subjected to, this also ranks as one of my “most demanding” training classes. After this particular training session, I starts scheduling any future training to take place only during the moderate Spring and Fall seasons! 🙂

  9. Timely as always, Mas – I’m in North Georgia helping with a combative pistol and defensive shotgun class. It was really hot/humid today, so we took many breaks, then stopped range ops early and got back to the classroom. Preached hydration all day long. About to go fill the cooler with ice and water for tomorrow, when it’s supposed to be a little hotter and a little more humid.
    Worst heat injury situation I’ve seen was at Quantico in the middle of summer – started the day’s PT under a caution flag, returned from PT under a black flag (highly restricted outdoor movement). When we fell in on the parade deck, five young, healthy officer candidates collapsed and had to be whisked away to the sick bay, where they were put into ice filled body bags and had refrigerated saline administered IV. They were in deep trouble for a while.

  10. Being an avid (read: crazy?) long distance road cyclist, I’ve learned about water consumption. As we work, our body produces certain chemicals that, if left to accumulate, results in undesireable things… in cycling the first sign of not enough water is leg uscle cramps. OUCH!!!! I’ve participated in some long distance single day rides (200 miles in a day) and if the weather is even temperate quite a few will not have trained themselves to drink enough. When the weather is fairly hot (90+) I will typically go through a litre of water an hour.
    I’ve also found that most of the typiucal”dog biscuit” like “nutritioin bars” have wierd stuff in them often strange protein powder concoctions that are not very helpful. When riding long distances I bring along qualcity dried fruits… unsweetened, good stuff has plenty of complex sugars naturally occurring. I tend towards those high in potassium, the best antidote to mineral imbalance when working (and shooting IS working). apricots, mangos, dates, figs.. all VERY tasty. Clean simple protein is also needed to maintain health over a day’s work. Iwill typically break about every three hours/fifty miles and stop, get off the bike, find the WC, eat some of that tasty fruit and good protein, refill the water beakers, and hop on for the next leg. I have covered two hundred plus miles in a day with only the three stops… and never cramp. I no longer have to think about getting enough water. I just do it. Sort of like learning a rhythm. We recently had some HOT weather here, record breaking in fact. I knew it was hot, but not THAT hot. Checked the temp when I returned home… 116. Air temp, not sun heat. I was a bit slower than normal but did just fine. I think I downed three litres of water in about two hours. Felt fine.

    • Tionico, getting by here in the Arizona desert heat during outdoor workdays with a small Dr. Pepper on ice along with potato chips, one or two Clif Bars for lunch, and four or five liters of cold or cool water, and another small Dr. Pepper, plus a cold 12 oz. Gatorade, plus more cold water. Probably not very scientific, but what I like. Really like the Clif Bars for not too much to eat in the heat. I don’t suppose your long bicycle rides are all downhill. I used to coast at max speed down 7% grades in Oregon in my old 10-speed Raleigh. Foolish, maybe, but sure beat pedaling all the way uphill! Loved those wide highway shoulders in Oregon and northern California. Amazing how far you ride. Wished I was packing heat once in Washington State near the Hood Canal when some harassing stranger started giving me static from his car. Maybe he was unconsciously doing me a favor, because I will not go un-heeled again.

  11. I do have enough training and sense to hydrate. As I’ve gotten older, I learned about electrolytes. I mention to my physician that when I worked up a sweat, I’d get dizzy. He said to try Gatorade. I went with Powerade Zero for the lower sugar content and it worked like a charm. No more dizzy spells when overheating.

  12. Been through 2 classes with you in Nebraska when it was hotter than Hades and I know that we drank lots of water. We shot in the morning and did class in the afternoon. I still can hear you trying to drum it into everyone’s head about the importance of hydrating.

  13. Thanks for the tips, folks. It doesn’t get that hot in the corner of the Pacific NW where I live, but it’s good to know what to do if it does. ‘Global Warming’ is creeping closer year by year.

  14. In regards to an effective oral rehydration solution, I would highly recommend you give Drip Drop a try. It’s good stuff!

  15. Years ago, the policy at Gunsight was you had to drink water every time you load your mags. Works great in a high round count class.

  16. These photos reminded me of the MAG 40 and MAG 80 courses. And inspire me to save my nickels and dimes for MAG 120 this December. What a great experience.

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