So, here we are in the dead of summer. It’s a safe bet that “Backwoods Home” kinda folks are outdoor kinda folks, and whether it’s work or play, are gonna be out in the sun a lot. It pays to be attentive to the dangers of that.

Just finished shooting the East Coast US Championships of the International Defensive Pistol Association in Prospect Hill, NC, still ongoing through the weekend. Temperatures were estimated at mid-90s to 100 degrees ambient, with a “real-feel” heat factor estimated at 107 to 110 degrees. We were on the outdoor ranges with virtually no shade from 8AM to 5PM, relieved only by a refreshing ten-minute thunderstorm in the afternoon. The skies finally opened with a major squall just after we finished shooting.

The Caswell Ranch range and shooting club, our hosts, did a splendid job and so did all their great staff. They were out there in the heat longer than any of us shooters were.

I had never done a twenty-stage match in one day before, and we were kinda draggin’ from the heat and the high humidity by the time the last shot was fired, but we made it through OK. That was largely because we followed the advice earned hard over the years by centuries of American farmers, and by wise shooters. You can find an excellent compendium of that advice here, at Gun Rights Radio Forums, which has a LOT of good advice on tap for shooter folk.,4394.0.html

Pay particular attention to the advice from Miggy, Miguel Gonzales, who runs matches in Miami through the year including the depths of summer, and Larry Piekarski, who reminds us that humid heat can be dangerous to shooters even in the temperate heartland of Indiana. In the past, I’ve seen a shooter ambulanced off the range with heatstroke, a life-threatening condition.

Stay hydrated! Dehydration brings on fatigue, fatigue leads to carelessness, and careless people with loaded guns are ticking time bombs. We got through thanks to lots of water; Gatorade to replace lost electrolytes; the occasional banana; that miracle of modern life, the Cool-danna; and common sense.

Modern, high-tech warm weather clothing is good stuff. I had the good fortune to be sponsored by EOTAC (, and was wearing their lightweight BDU pants and their newest high activity polo, with a smooth silky feel that dries out from sweat VERY quickly. Hugely improved comfort factor. It kept me way cooler than jeans and a tee shirt. One reason I often wear their clothing when I DON’T “compete in the heat.”

My adult supervisor, the Evil Princess, forgot her sun block and left looking like the main course at a lobster restaurant. While crimson is not her best color, she left on her own feet, up and running, and that’s what due care when outdoors in dangerous heat is all about.,

The shooter will spot Mas’ left hand closing the cylinder of the S&W Model 15 .38 with his left hand, and bringing his right hand back into firing grasp as the Safariland Comp III speedloader falls away. The hot and sweaty shooter, however, will notice that Mas is wearing a Cool-danna and looks pretty comfortable in EOTAC vest, pants, and moisture-wicking shirt, while the Safety Officer’s t-shirt is plastered to his body with sweat.

When the safety officers (and the shooters) are wearing towels around their necks, you KNOW it’s a hot and humid day!


  1. We’re suffering from the same weather here in North Alabama…mercury at 100 degrees or higher, and heat index readings from 105 to 115. Very high humidity and very still air. Even light physical activity can be exhausting…and possibly deadly.

    Mass, I tried to register at GRRF, but one of the required questions was “who is the administrator?”. I may be having one of my Alzheimer/Dyslexia moments (you know…I don’t remember much and what I do is backwards) but I couldn’t find the answer to that question. Any hints?

  2. Just a quick note that you really don’t want to end up with Lyme’s disease, so use insect repellent that’s effective on biting insects as appropriate.

  3. One note of caution; it is possible to over hydrate, to the extent that you flush your body clear of the salts etc it needs and you end up a heat casualty that way.

    Mas mentions using Gatorade to keep replace lost electrolytes, which is the way to go.

    One way of monitoring your hydration, and I apologise if I’m teaching granny to suck eggs here, is to check the colour of your urine; the darker it is the more dehydrated you are, but if your continually passing clear you’re over hydrating. Pale yellow is best.

    Or is that TMI?

  4. As my Scouts have learned over the years from Chief Ockanickon, the mascot of one of the Boy Scout camps here in PA….
    A hydrated Scout is a happy Scout.
    A dehydrated Scout is a DEAD Scout and
    Dead Scouts have no fun.
    Same goes for Shooters, Hunters, etc…..

  5. One point to consider: drink water – do not add electrolytes. It’s an urban legend at best that “the body loses electrolytes”, and at worst it’s marketing fraud. The body conserves electrolytes.

    At the end of a marathon race or a 3-hour marathon training session, you have lost much more water than electrolytes. You’re in electrolyte overload. You need water first, then carbs, never sodium. “Your sweat is less salty that you are” – as Dr. Michael Colgan likes to say. When you’ve been sweating for hours you’re not in danger of running out of electrolytes – you’re in danger of “electrolyte overload”. Eat a balanced diet and take a daily high quality multi-vitamin/multi-mineral and you’re getting all the electrolytes you need. – Optimum Sports Nutrition, Dr. Michael Colgan, p 195-198

  6. Fruitbat, when it comes to information that folks need to know to keep themselves safe in the heat, such information is hardly TMI.

    I wouldn’t call that over-hydrating, though, but under-replenishing.

    Water is like oil for our bodies, but if there’s no gas, that car still don’t run.

    Gatorade or other sports drinks or electrolyte replenishers are just as important as the constant water intake.

    Your body WILL sweat out both especially in high heat + high humidity.

    I just helped a brother in Christ out at church this past week, taking care of the front lawn. It wasn’t a big yard and didn’t really take THAT long to mow, but in the heat my goodness it was brutal. I don’t think I’ve ever been sucked dry of energy that fast. At several points I couldn’t summon up enough energy to keep pushing the mower in the sun. I was still sweating so I wasn’t totally dehydrated but I was fast approaching heat exhaustion faster than I’ve ever experienced (and it wasn’t even 105 outside…. the next two days were FAR hotter, so Tuesday was THE day to get the mowing done). I had to spend the next quarter of an hour inside in the shade sipping gatorade before I got my energy levels back and my body cooled off fully.

    Heat + humidity is no joke. It’s literally deadly serious if not treated with the proper respect and care…

    Hey, that’s almost exactly like firearm safety, isn’t it? 🙂

    ~Sir Brass

  7. Sir Brass – Good point. It’s just that in polite society there aren’t too many conversations which start “I say old bean what’s the colour of your urine?” 🙂

    On a more serious note, a very sad example of over-hydration etc can be found be found by googling “David Rogers” and “London Marathon.”

  8. Had a brief conversation with Gary Anderson in 2007 at Camp Perry. Perry can be notoriously hot and humid at the nationals. He mentioned that they had “lost” 6 shooters the prior year (which would be 2006). Didn’t probe to see if that meant like in died or just hospital runs. Probably a reason that they introduced tent coverings on the ranges now. The older you get the less able the body can handle heat stress.

  9. Electrolytes DO matter. Urine contains (normally) an appreciable content of both sodium and potassium – and enough more so if someone’s urinating extra that those on diuretics for high blood pressure are also put on potassium pills to make up for what’s going into the toilet.
    If you’re drinking more water, you’re going to put out more urine – and for that reason alone electrolytes DO matter.