I am an advocate of an ongoing training regimen for your defensive lifestyle. I believe in training with a purpose, regardless of the subject matter. In this article, however, I am mostly discussing your training time on the gun range in more adverse conditions.
Many of my students go to the range on a regular basis which is great. However, some will often put their training on hold if the forecast calls for heat, wind, cold, rain, or if the course perhaps includes some physical exertion.
In essence, if the day’s training involves getting outside their comfort zone, many will just flat avoid it.
There is little doubt that only you can determine what hardships and harsh conditions you are willing to endure in training.
Understandably, there may be physical limitations that may prevent you from getting to the gun range at times. Just know that you will not get to select a perfect time, place or weather condition if the fight comes to you.
There are times and circumstances of course that I will draw the line for myself and students when on the gun range. Lightning, flashflood conditions, and hail are a few of those.
The following are just a few of the challenges we face in training on a routine basis in the desert southwest, we train anyway.
Gun training in the heat
Across the country today we are all experiencing higher temperatures. High heat is nothing to scoff at. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can kill.
In our area of the desert southwest we often experience temps over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months (110 + is not unheard of). Most of the time it is dry heat in our area due to the lack of rainfall in this region.
Regardless of humidity, heat can be very dangerous to those not acclimated to it. Good head cover, neck cover, sun screen, and staying hydrated are a must along with frequent breaks in the shade.
This category is one that if we were constantly concerned over, we would not get much training time on the range because of the number of hot days we have. We continue training, but with proper precautions.
Gun training in wind
In the desert southwest, wind is a constant staple, especially in the spring of the year. I’m not talking just breezy conditions. Winds over 20 miles per hour are common and that’s when it begins to get difficult.
We have carried on with training in winds 30 plus mph but admittedly it can get to the point where it becomes too hazardous from blowing debris or we are unable to keep targets up.
The reality is that if we were to never hit the range on windy days, we would get little training done in the spring of the year.
Being out in these conditions can be frustrating and downright miserable.
Some tricks you can employ to keep shooting; use steel only targets (but then your proximity to target should be no closer that 10 to 12 yards) and the use of spray adhesive with lots of staples to keep your paper targets on the backing and lots of sandbags to keep stands in place.
Gun training in Rain
This year our area of New Mexico has been blessed with rain whereas desert conditions usually mean low rainfall. When it does rain here it can often be violent thunderstorms producing lightning, flashflooding, and hail with extreme winds.
I will draw the line in these conditions.
However, a light to moderate rain we just push through. Here again the use of steel targets or the heavy wax paper style targets combined with spray adhesive will allow for your range time to continue.
I never allow range time to continue however when lightning is close, this is one force of nature you do not want to mess around with!
Cold weather gun training
Even in the desert we experience some very cold temperatures and snow in the late winter months. Most often it is normal to experience winds coming straight out of the north which makes the wind chill factor jump exponentially.
Training in the cold offers some of the greatest challenges for us because we just don’t have these conditions all that often. So, shooting with heavy coats, gloves and sometimes layers of clothes is outside the norm.
But we train anyway and just take it one step at a time.
Gun training after dark
Once the sun is down many folks simply call it a day. Training in dim light or night time conditions is one area of gun training I know many people never get to do. It is, however, an area of training that is perhaps one of the most likely to happen in a defensive encounter.
Training in darkened conditions brings its own set of challenges, and while maybe not considered harsh, certainly raises the risk of falls, lax muzzle control among other issues.
I always add an extra instructor or two for after dark training and make sure every student has at least one good flashlight on them at all times.
We usually start this type of training before night fall and go over added range protocols, flashlight techniques, and any hazards the range may present.
Every area of the country has its own challenges of wildlife risks on the range. Here in the desert, there is no lack of critters that will sting or bite.
Bees, wasps, ants, scorpions, centipedes, and of course rattlesnakes are the norm rather than the exception in the southwestern US. We insist on good footwear (no flip flops or open toed shoes) in part because of the hazards these animals can present.
If you have allergies to insect bites and stings then being prepared with the necessary epi pen or other medical interventions is critical.
If conditions are just too dangerous then erring on the side of caution and safety goes without saying.
The end result of pushing on and training under harsh conditions is that you will become vastly more capable and confident in your abilities. After all both of these attributes are what it is all about and are critical in a life-threatening event.