In the few times I've been to the shooting range, I've worn a mix of things but they've always consisted of the main staples: a shirt, jeans & shoes. And while I've seen everything from women in high heels to shorts to combat boots to sweats, I've realized that you can (but you shouldn't) really just come as you are. I've done some light reading on the impact of lead on your person and clothing from the range so I know at the minimum a separate pair of range clothes is encouraged. If you want to know more about lead dangers at the range then GST (google that sh*t). There is tons of info out there. My issue with separate range clothes is that once they've been deemed 'range clothes' that's sort of how they'll need to stay. So wearing my favorite Rag & Bone jeans and then proceeding NOT to wash them and then wearing them again in daily life is kind of a no no. The same goes with everything else that gets worn at the range like the shoes, ugh. Although, I'm not too mad about it though because any reason for a new outfit is good enough for me. Hello, situational dressing. So I'm on the search to put together some cute range outfits especially since I'm heading back into the lion's den in the next month.
You might be wondering what's the need to have a separate set of range clothes? Well, it all really stems from the empty shell casings & the associated fragments that get ejected from the gun as you fire a shot. The shell casing, commonly referred to as 'brass' is extremely hot and contains lead & gun powder particles from the bullet. So as you proceed to shoot, the bullet leaves the gun and the brass is ejected in order to clear room for the next bullet/round. And as you are standing in your range lane, the ejected brass is basically flying at or around you. All of those lead particles end up on your person & clothing so hence the need for separate set of clothes. Well, why not just wash them after you ask? Well you can & you should but they need to be washed separately from the rest of your laundry and extra precautions taken to reduce cross contamination.
If you’re worried that “range clothes” might sound very boring and drab, I got you.. I'm not going to let you hit the range looking unfashionable.
Shirt: It's really up to you regarding short or long sleeve preference. I'm all for short sleeves because I tend to get a little overheated from the stress/pressure being in the range (Hopefully that will fade as I step back in). However, a lot of people like and recommend long sleeve so it can be a barrier between the lead particles and hot brass. Whether you select short or long sleeve, you'll want to wear a shirt that covers your décolleté area. That means nothing low-cut or v-neck. Basically you want to roll in sans cleavage. And the reason for this is that when the brass is ejected, there is no way to determine it's trajectory and it's been known to find it's way right down the front of a shirt. The 'girls' are no place for hot brass. If you're wearing short sleeves, any hot brass that hits you will bounce right off so it's not so much of concern. But in the end it's really what you’re comfortable with. A great option is to layer a long sleeve button down over your short sleeve. You can opt to wear it buttoned (to the top) and when you're done at the range you can throw in your range bag. Alternatively, where it open and you can take it off mid-way and tie it around your waist if you get warm. And if you must wear a lower cut shirt think about wearing a scarf around your neck to protect your décolleté area. It's a great option especially for those who are stopping into the range on the way to/from work or social gathering.
Pants: I mean does this really need to be explained? Again personal preference here prevails. Some like shorts while others like pants. I prefer jeans in my daily life so that's what I'm comfortable wearing to the range. You'll want something you can easily move in whether you choose to shoot seated or standing. Additionally, if you are practicing drawing from a holster, then you'll want to wear the pants that meet this need.
Hat (optional): Personally I'm not really a hat person. So for me I can take it or leave it. Some people think a hat is mandatory because it helps to keep any ejected brass from landing in between your eye protection and face. However, my stance on this is that the eye protection you're wearing should fit snug against your face with minimal gaps.
Shoes: My favorite part and why I provide several types in the three looks below. I don't think you can really go wrong with any closed toe shoe option. At some point the hot brass is going to land on the ground so you'll want to protect your feet. Since you'll most likely be standing you'll want to opt for something you are comfortable standing in. For me, I'm all about the ankle boot. Of all the items listed here if any one of these needs to be labeled 'range only' it would be the shoes. Keep in mind that you are using these to walk through the range where 90% of the lead particles will eventually land. It's safe to say that your range shoes will pick up a decent amount of debris during your visits. You absolutely don't want to wear these same shoes in your car and eventually in your house. You'll be leaving traces of lead all over so keep that in mind when picking your range shoes. This is why the range shoes are the hardest for me to designate because I'm not ready to give up a pair of boots to only wear to the range and not in my daily life. But if I'm making going to the range part of my life, then I'll get to wear the boots more often than not. And honestly, any excuse for a new pair of boots I can get down with.
Check out my selection of shoes to wear to the shooting range here.
In the end, your range clothes should make you feel comfortable and good when you're shooting. Don't let the lead exposure be too much of a concern either, I mean you should take your own precaution but in the end it really all depends how often you're going to the range. Also be sure to check my ‘Range Wear' Pinterest board for more range outfit inspo & also don't be afraid to click that follow button while you're there.
What requirements do you have for your range outfit?