I've already talked about what to wear to the shooting range and I wanted to revisit that topic a bit more to focus specifically on what shoes to wear to the shooting range. Now that I've been shooting somewhat consistently, I really can say that I've seen it all when it comes to what people wear shooting. While I still stand by and follow my original suggestions of having a separate set of range clothes, I know a lot of people don't and that's okay. It's all about what you are comfortable with.
When it comes to shooting for personal defense, it's important to train and practice in different environments and for different scenarios. An element of that training that is sometimes overlooked is training with how you dress or for this topic, what shoes you wear. I can tell you that on any given day I could be wearing heels, sneakers, or boots. Different types of shoes alter your posture, stance, and body position which ultimately will affect they way you shoot. I wear a variety of styles and want to be able to defend myself under any shoe-circumstance.
When it comes to dressing for the range you also need to consider if having your clothing/shoes layered with lead & gun powder particles or getting hit by hot brass matters to you. I've heard a lot of people say that getting hit with hot brass is nothing and it's par for the course. While others have suffered some burns and are adamant about keeping skin protected. Just keep in mind that hot brass and lead is going to land on the ground where you're standing so protecting your feet is safe practice. Again, it's really up to you and what you are comfortable with.
When it comes to selecting shoes for the range, I always wear closed toe shoes such as sneakers, ankle boots, or heeled boots. I know it's not a fashion show at the range but who doesn't want to look cute, right?! You can't go wrong with a good sneaker for the range whether you shoot indoors or outdoors. Not only will your feet be protected, you'll also be comfortable. Another great option for the range are boots. They are my preference when hitting the range and in my daily life. You can find them in so many styles along with a variety of heel and shaft heights, which make them ideal for training in what you normally wear because they will also keep your feet protected.
If you've been to the range lately, you might have noticed that some are offering designated nights for "date night at the range." It's becoming an increasingly popular way for couples to spend an evening whether they are a new shooter or veteran. When I hear "date night" I immediately think, "time to break out my fancy shoes." While I know there are women who love to wear their designer heels to the range, open toe or not, it's not my choice. I leave my designer heels at home and when I want to train in heels, I have a pair of heeled boots I wear. While I discourage any open-toe shoe because of the lead and hot brass that land at your feet, it does't mean you can't wear an open toe. Just be selective. No flip flops or sandals. Opt for a peep-toe bootie where most of your foot is covered. For the gals that don't like heels but still want something cute, flats are a great option. You still risk a bit of hot brass striking the top of your foot but you can easily minimize any potential burns by wearing a thin dress sock or hosiery that can easily be taken off when your range session is over.
A few final notes when deciding on what shoes to wear to the range:
Consider your environment and weather (if shooting outdoors). If you're at an indoor range without any strict shoe policies then any of the options listed above will suffice. However, if you're going to an outdoor range most likely the ground will be some type of dirt, gravel, grass, or combination of all three. With that in mind, opting for a shoe with a heel, a ballet flat, or open-toe bootie isn't the smartest choice. Shooting outdoors means your shoes will get dusty and dirty and if there has been any kind of rain, the ground most likely will be somewhat muddy.
Lighter color shoes such as taupe colored boots or white sneakers are going to show more lead/gun powder and therefore look dirty faster. So if that's an issue for you then stick with black or something dark.
Be mindful of your fabric choice. I prefer leather because it can easily be wiped clean after a range session. Suede or canvas fabrics are more likely to soak up the lead and gun powder particles and are more difficult to clean.
Some ranges might have dress code policies that go as far as not allowing open-toe shoes so be sure to check with the range.
Wear what's comfortable to you and what you wear more in your daily life...train with what you wear.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is based on my opinions and for informational use only. I am not an expert in this field and any items/services/products/advice mentioned in these posts should be used at your own discretion, in accordance with your local & state laws, and you should follow applicable manufacturer’s instructions. You can read more about my privacy & disclosure policies here.