Here are some tips for shooting in cold weather. When it comes to winter and heading out to the range in frigid temperatures, it’s important to understand how cold temperatures affect your body, and therefore your shooting ability.
Physiologically, when our body temperature starts to fall, our brain is alerted and tells our nervous system that it needs to do something to prevent hypothermia. In order to keep our vital organs warm, the brain sends nerve impulses to the muscles which make us shiver. When muscles contract and relax quickly, heat is produced. Blood flow to the smaller body parts, such as fingers and toes, is constricted and blood flow focuses on the larger organs instead. This is why we notice that our hands and feet feel colder sooner than other body parts.
To help prevent body heat loss, dress in layers. A base layer should be made of a material that wicks away sweat (yes, even in the winter) and is close-fitting. The second layer is for insulation. Depending on the weather conditions, choose the material and thickness that best holds in enough body heat, such as down or fleece. Lastly, the outer layer should protect the underneath layers from the elements, such as wind, rain or snow. Don’t forget that layers are intended for your upper AND lower body.
Don’t forget about your head. Choose a warm hat without any buttons or Pom Poms on top. They can interfere with hearing protection such as earmuffs. Also, avoid hoods that could obscure your peripheral vision.
Working The Gun
The cold can affect our ability to control a firearm due. Such as the ability to manipulating the controls due to the loss of fine motor skills and numbness in our fingers. Additionally the increased difficulty in holding the gun steady while shivering. Reloading magazines while at the range also becomes 10 times more difficult. Just the thought of relying on your frozen fingers to load each round into the magazine is enough to make my hands cringe in pain! And if your gloves are too big and bulky, manipulating each round sounds near-impossible.
Luckily, Using a Maglula for loading magazines is much much easier, especially with gloves on, and helps prevent hurting those cold fingers. Choosing the right pair of gloves can make all the difference when it comes to cold-weather shooting. How you shoot a handgun or rifle will be different when you’re bundled up. It might be more difficult to shoulder a rifle or get a good grip on a handgun with bulky gloves on.
Depending on the thickness of the gloves, wearing gloves might make it tricky to get your finger inside the trigger guard. Below are some gloves for cold weather or light rain. Waterproof and durable, and also able to expose your thumb and index finger to manipulate the finer parts of a firearm. Just remember that it is also important to practice shooting, reloading, and racking the slide with gloves on. Someday you might need these skills if you are in a self-defense situation.
Drawing Your Gun
Another factor related to shooting in cold weather is your ability to draw your firearm. This is also going to be impacted due to the layers of clothing. Think about the type of clothing you’re wearing and your ability to access your firearm. Make sure you practice grabbing the bottom of your garments and pull out and up. This will clear the clothing to expose the grip of the gun. Make sure to practice with the clothing you’re likely to be wearing, as well as while wearing gloves. Can you get the clothing out of the way, get a good grip on the firearm, and draw safely?
Great For Your Range Bag
Extra items to keep in a range bag or vehicle when heading to the range on a cold winter day should include: An extra pair of socks (Womens Wool Socks Thermal Heavy Thick Soft Warm Fuzzy Work Winter Socks 5 Pack), hand warmers such as HotHands that get hot when they are opened and come in contact with oxygen, a Maglula magazine loader, Kleenex for drippy eyes and nose, and possibly a portable heater such as a Mr. Heater that uses a small propane bottle. Being prepared is key.
Lubrication on a gun can cause more malfunctions due to it being cold and sticky. Be cautious not to use excess oil. Lucas Oil offers its Extreme Duty Gun Oil that is specially formulated for temperatures between -38 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
If cold weather training isn’t your thing, feel free to move to Arizona 🙂