Precision rifle shooting, with race-gun events like the Precision Rifle Series and the National Rifle League, needs freedom of movement, whilst often needing protection from the elements or on the knees. It is a smart idea to be prepared for all possible weather conditions, as rain or snow does not stop or delay any precision rifle match, so in this article, I will be discussing what to wear and some tips regarding precision rifle shooting clothing. Keep reading for the essential clothing items you will need on the range or for racegun matches.
What to Wear for Precision Rifle Shooting?
- Protective Gear (Eye Protection and Ear Defenders)
- Tactical pants
- Comfortable Footwear
- Comfortable Shirt and Pants
- Jacket (if needed)
- Rifle cover
- Wrist sleeve or playbook with dope card
5 Tips on What to Wear for Precision Rifle Shooters
Once you have the required gear and clothing for precision rifle shooting, the next thing you need to know are some tips. These tips and advice will allow you to have the full experience and stay protected at the same time, so continue reading!
Prepare for the Weather
Wearing the right clothing will play a huge role in enjoying the activity because on shoot day, you will be on your feet outdoors for a long time. It is important that your main focus is to dress not only appropriately but also comfortably and be protected. You will also need a good sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn and a bug repellent if you are near humid areas, I usually just leave on of each of these in my competition backpack so I always have it when needed, remember the spf chap stick too.
For shooting near the Southern US and the hotter climate, you need to dress lightly with breathable fabrics because if you wear layers, then you will sweat profusely. However, at the same time, you need to be protected from bugs and flies. It can be very annoying if you are wearing shorts and have mosquitoes biting your legs or grass and sticks scratching them.
For summers, opting for light synthetic combat or tactical type trousers, a t-shirt and then a light sun-protective pullover / hoodie with a long sleeves made of a light, airy material is the better choice. If you are shooting in the Northern and colder parts of the States, then you need proper cold-weather or even winter gear and maybe even a beanie.
Many new shooters quickly learn that race gun competitions like PRS and NRL matches do not get cancelled or stopped because of the weather, come rain, snow or sunshine, the event will carry on. I always have a light, small-folding raincoat in my precision rifle backpack for when an unexpected shower occurs.
Don’t Constrict Your Body Movement
With precision rifle shooting, you need to be flexible and build a position on the clock, and fast, so wearing any kind of tight, restrictive clothes can reduce this flexibility or cost you precious time on a stage. Your arms can become stiff with thick layers, making the maneuvering hard. It is a good idea to wear something loose or made from stretch fabric instead of any tight items so that you can move around easily. You can opt for summer shorts or loose tactical pants in the summer, just remember that knee pads are a good idea with shorts, and you will often fall down on your knees or kneel for many firing position, and this on the clock, so there wont be time to look for a soft spot to put your knees on the ground.
In colder climates, where you have no choice whether to layer up, most people depend on the two-layer system for precision rifle shooting. The first layer is the base layer and is worn closest to your skin. It has to be breathable, must be able to wick away moisture, and is usually made of a natural fabric like merino wool or cotton.
The second layer is the outer layer. It protects you against the weather and terrain. This layer must be thick and should come with knee and possible elbow impact protection pads to protect your joints.
Protect Your Senses
Shooting ranges can be very damaging to your senses, especially if you are not wearing proper protection. The first and foremost sense to protect is your hearing since it takes the most punishment from the loud bangs from shots and muzzle-brakes. Therefore, it is best to wear hearing protection whenever you are around the shooting range, I often find that I basically put on my ear protection when I get out of the car in the morning at the zero-range before the competition starts, and basically only take it off once the final shooter has finished shooting for the day, as most precision rifle competitors shoot with muzzle-brakes and there will be shooting going on most of the day.
Howard Leight Impact Sport
Our favorite race gun hearing protection are these low-profile models from Howard Leight. They 82db or louder noise or sounds, offer bi-directional microphones so you still have stereo hearing so you know where what sounds are coming from like normal, which helps with hunting too, and are the lowest overall profile of all the models we tested.
The next sense to focus on is your eyesight. Outdoor exposure can bring you in the way of all hazards, including stuff blasting off from other shooters muzzle brakes next to you and for the worst-case scenario, your rifle action exploding on you, so wearing proper eye protection is important. By “proper,” we mean glasses that are shatterproof and designed with impact-resistant material that supports a rugged frame, and it also helps if the lenses are shooting dedicated lenses which bring out the contrast of the terrain and helps the shooter spot targets in the field easier. Fast target acquisition counts when on a timed PRS stage.
Just because they are shooting glasses, does not mean they need to cramp your style. These glasses by Oakley will hold up to the abuse that PRS and race gun matches dish out, and will keep you looking good while doing so. The Prizm Dark golf lenses are the same tint and contrast enhancing lenses that are used on daylight military issue Oakleys, and the normal golf lenses the same as the dark weather shooting lenses. Not only do they protect your eyes from shrapnel and debris, but also from UV rays and they enhance contrast on natural scenes to help you spot targets and animals better.
Apart from these two pieces of gear, you also need gloves for your hands and a hat. A hat will keep the sun away from your eyes and face, whereas your gloves will protect your hands from the cold, and from cuts and scratches from your rifle or the sticks and stones or obstacles you are moving around on. Make sure that the gloves have a non-slip grip, and the more modern gloves even allow use of your touchscreen smartphone so you do not even have to take them off to check your phone for your DOPE or messages.
Mechanix Wear: Limited Edition Black Multicam Original Work Gloves
The now famous Mechanix work glove, in the original design is still our favorite PRS glove and racegun match glove. We usually only wear one on the left or supporting hand as that takes most of the abuse. But when cold wear it on both and even use them when hunting. The other great feature is that they are touchscreen compatible so you can work with the on your smartphone without having to first remove your gloves.
Sturdy and Comfortable Tactical Boots
Sturdy and supportive footwear is essential for shooting, no matter the weather. If you have comfortable shoes, then your stance while shooting will be steady, and you won’t be annoyed by the activity, your ankles will also be protected from rough and uneven terrain. Since you will be standing outside for hours, a pair of waterproof shooting boots with a durable sole is what you should go for, and one with good grip to prevent you sliding when on slippery or when grass and mud stages.
Lowa Men’s Zephyr GTX Mid Hiking Boot
There are many great tactical boots from many brands, but once you wear a pair of Lowa Zephyrs, you will not buy anything else ever again. Durable and most important of all, super comfortable, there is nothing that provides the comfort, strength and durability of the Lowa boots all in one package. Our favorite PRS boots and race gun match boot.
Keep Your DOPE Close
Your DOPE or Data On Previous Engagement, which is basically the ballistic data and drop calculations for your bullet at difference distances and shifts in different wind speeds, is of utmost importance in a race gun competition and even more so to have a hard data dope card in a NRL hunter type match.
Not only is it camo for tacticoolness, it also holds your hard DOPE or data card so you can quickly reference it when on a shooting stage.
Always Read the Dress Code
Apart from the general shooting rules that each competition has, there are some dress code rules too. However, these dressing rules are mostly general and include things like proper eye and ear protection. Before you head on to the competition, make sure you read their rules and regulations and then dress accordingly, so you are ready for everything.
Protect Your Rifle
Seeing as hunter simulated shooting competitions and racegun competitions try to simulate either real hunting or sniper-type shooting, they are not usually cancelled because of dreary or wet weather. In fact, we have shot PRS competitions in rain and snow. Although good oil will protect you rifle, water inside your rifle barrel and chanber is still a BIG no-no and very dangerous often creating hydraulic effects, increasing the pressure on the case when firing and creating hydraulic pressure in the barrel. This can not only cause accuracy to go out the window, but also barrels and actions to even explode. So keeping your rifle dry is very important.
Because rain can breakout anytime and anywhere, always having a rain cover for your rifle close in your competition rifle shooting backpack or hunting backpack is a must, but space in that backpack comes at a premium. Luckily this excellent rain cover will protect your rifle from the elements and folds away to a small and easy to carry size.
With this guide on what to wear at the precision rifle shooting range or competition, you can go ahead and practice precision rifle shooting in safe and comfortable apparel. Make sure you adhere to these tips, and you will no longer be annoyed with constricted movement or sweat during your shooting stage.