Beat The Summer Heat

I first posted this last year, and several things this week (Walt White’s podcast and an extended conversation on Twitter) suggested that I needed to be reminded from time to time. I also want to thank Walt, MIguel, David, and Keith for their advice and guidance. 

I titled this entry Beat the Heat, but it is my experience that we cannot beat the heat – the best we can hope for is a tie. Here are some things you can do to make shooting in the summer heat safer.

For any system, we have inputs, a process, and outputs. Our goal is to keep the process – our bodies, shooting effectively – in control, and minimize the effects of the heat.

The inputs to this process are sunshine, body heat from exertion, electrolytes, and water. The process, our body, generates its own heat, and generates outputs of movement and thought, and also generates liquids in the form of urine and sweat, which keep the body flushed and cool.

So, how do we keep the desirable processes – thoughts and movement – optimal? By making sure we mitigate the effects of the inputs:

Be sure to wear sunscreen, preferably 50 SPF or better, and use the waterproof kind if possible. I carry a bottle of this in my shooting bag, and it occurs to me that I should have a spare bottle in my Get Home Bag. In my experience, the spray on kind of sunscreen doesn’t work for me, but if you like it, and it works, use it.

If you find you are susceptible to sunburn you may need to re-apply the sunscreen as needed.

Try to stay in the shade when possible. If you’re practicing and there is a covered shooting area, use it. If not, consider erecting a canopy of some sort, or bring an umbrella. 

Wear smart clothing. There are all kinds of breathable sports shirts on the market now, and I wear one when I shoot matches. In fact, I have found that 100% cotton tee shirts are uncomfortable after a few hours, as they become sweat drenched in the sun. Instead, consider investing in a sports shirt like the ones from Techwear or Nike . 

Wear a hat, to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your scalp. Consider a hat with a wide brim like Walt’s boonie hat or cowboy hat. However, this will mean you may have to wear earplugs and not muffs, unless you have the kind that go behind your head, or can roll up the brim while you shoot. 

I wear shorts when shooting, but if you will be venturing into dry brush, or your legs are susceptible to sunburn, consider lightweight BDUs or other long pants.

Drink plenty of liquids, before during and after you shoot. Start the night before, and continue drinking during and after the shoot.

Here’s one place I have changed my thinking. I used to feel that I didn’t need full strength sports drinks, as they have way too many electrolytes and calories for what I do. They were designed for football players and runners, who are burning a lot more calories that I do shooting.

So, I drank only water, and I found that by the end of the day my legs were sore. Then one match I tried diluting sports drink to half strength, and I found that I wasn’t sore. It’s almost like the makers of the sports drinks know what they’re doing. Hmm.

Consider a bladder backpack, like the Camelback, if your shooting allows it. I don’t take mine to matches, because I would be taking it on and off all the time, but I have worn it for casual shooting. 

Now, here is why I mentioned urine. One way to know if the process is working is to know if the inputs are matching the outputs. So, you need output. There is a saying I have heard from someone who is currently being paid to work in the Middle Eastern sun – “If you’re not peeing you’re not drinking enough.” You should be visiting the bathroom at least once an hour if you’re correctly hydrated. 

I have a neck “snake” filled with a water absorbing gel, that I soak in water and put around my neck when I’m waiting my turn to shoot. I bought mine at a state fair about ten years ago, but Miguel pointed us to some on Amazon. 

Take a chair and rest when possible. This reduces the amount of heat you generate internally. 

If you collect fired brass, and it’s been sitting in the sun, consider wearing gloves. Those suckers can be very hot. I say this from experience. Store your guns in the shade when not in use, for the same reason.

I hope you find this useful, and I welcome other suggestions.

Happy Independence Day

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Lee Resolution, which said

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

On July 4, they approved the language of the Declaration of Independence, that listed the reasons they were separating themselves. They then had this copied on to a large manuscript, which they signed on August 4.

John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

(I like his thinking –  we should have gun matches on Independence Day.)

Later, in 1818, John Adams wrote

But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. While the king, and all in authority under him, were believed to govern in justice and mercy, according to the laws and constitution derived to them from the God of nature and transmitted to them by their ancestors, they thought themselves bound to pray for the king and queen and all the royal family, and all in authority under them, as ministers ordained of God for their good; but when they saw those powers renouncing all the principles of authority, and bent upon the destruction of all the securities of their lives, liberties, and properties, they thought it their duty to pray for the continental congress and all the thirteen State congresses.
. . . This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

Thus, we see that, in a real sense, the Revolution took place prior to 1776, and the real Declaration that this country was independent came on July 2. No matter what the famous document says.

Have a good one.

A Prayer for the Greatest Generation

Almighty God:

Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true. Give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard, for the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed. But we shall return again and again. And we know that by Thy grace and by the righteousness of our cause our sons will triumph.

They will be so tried by night and by day, without rest until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war. For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise and tolerance and goodwill among all thy people. They yearn, but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father and receive them Thy heroic servants into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home, fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them, help us, almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee, in this hour of great sacrifice.

— President Franklin Roosevelt, announcing the D-Day invasion to the country, June 6, 1944.

H/T Daddy Bear

The Greatest Feat of the Greatest Generation

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
June 6, 1944

(Listen to General Eisenhower give his speech, here.)

Go Silent for Memorial Day

SSG Jordan Bear
PFC Payton Jones


This Monday is Memorial Day, and I plan to spend the morning as I did last year, shooting the Memorial Day Fundraiser pistol match at Creekside Firing Range in Cartersville, Georgia. Each year for the past seven years, Joe Harris at Creekside has donated all the proceeds of the Memorial Day Fundraiser to the family of a fallen serviceman in the Atlanta area. The Fundraiser includes a steel challenge pistol match in the morning, an auction of shooting gear, and a tactical rifle match in the afternoon.

In addition, at 12:01 PM, I plan to go silent in honor of a fallen US serviceman.
The Iraq and Aghanistan Veterans of America are sponsoring this event, where you can pledge to remember an individual person, and make the moment personal.
I choose to remember two people – SSG Jordan Bear, age 25, of Denver, Colorado, and PFC Payton Jones, age 19, of Marble Falls, Texas.
Both served in Bravo Company of the 2nd Batallion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, and were killed March 1, 2012, at COP Sangesar, Afghanistan. You can read about their encounter in this New York Times article.
These men, this incident, and this newspaper article hit home for me, because my youngest brother is a SFC in the same unit. In fact, Lieutenant Davis, pictured in the article, is my brother’s Platoon Leader. He has spoken at length with the NYT reporter who wrote this story.

Please consider going to this site and pledging to remember a fallen American.