Fair weather defense

Last time I went out shooting it was a beautiful, sunny day. Granted, it was nine degrees Fahrenheit and very windy, and my fingers were going numb to the point where I could barely load my guns, but hey; sunshine and beauty.

There’s a lot of discussion about shooting in adverse conditions under stress, and then there’s also a lot of talk that goes along the lines of, “Hey I got this fabulous new gun, but I’ll have to wait ’till Spring before I can try it out.”

For seven months of the year, there is a real possibility of snow on the ground here, and more so as you get higher in elevation. Maybe your practice should be around 7/12 cold weather practice in places like this then. You may find that your gun(s), which functioned well at 70 degrees, will start behaving in strange ways at zero and below.

Remember Washington’s crossing of that icy river on that snowy night to attack the Hessians at Trenton? Yeah. That kicked ass.

Do you know what it’s like policing your brass in three feet of snow on snowshoes while carrying all your gear on your person? Have you dropped a warm magazine in the snow when it’s zero degrees out? Yeah; it’s out of operation ’till you can warm it up and get the ice out of it. How does that slick new pistol hold work out when you’re wearing a heavy coat and standing on uneven ground on ice? What does your super bright flashlight do for you in a blizzard? What happens to the effectiveness of different types of batteries when they get very cold? Should you attempt to shoot while wearing gloves, or no? What do you do when snow falls out of a tree onto the exposed action of your rifle? What happens to the effectiveness of your optics at 10 degrees when you happen to breathe onto the ocular lens? Can you even turn the zoom control on your scope?

Next time it’s snowing, windy, very cold and dark, maybe consider it an opportunity for some good shooting practice. If you enjoy the warmth and comfort of home on a stormy winter’s night, just think of how much more you’ll enjoy it after some good shooting practice.


10 thoughts on “Fair weather defense

  1. This has been something high on my list of things to do, but a lack of outdoor ranges handy (my favorite range is near the family cabin which is difficult to access in winter would be perfect for this, if I could get to it). Should I ever have access to sufficient land to trek about, I intend to not only practice shooting in such conditions, but perform general workouts while fully geared. The ability to run however many miles is all well and good, but how well can one run that same distance in the snow, with many pounds of gear strapped to them? Might as well train for the worst case scenario.

  2. Lyle,

    Later this month I’m going to be at the Boomershoot site. I have some other things to do with a higher priority but if I get things done I’ll be doing some long range shooting at steel.

    Would you like to get an invite to participate if I have the time to do the shooting?

  3. Mag-a-zine? Op-tics? Bat-ter-ies?
    I’m an old fogey. My gear reflects that. The main problem I have shooting in the winter, is my eyes watering. Of course, reloading loose cartridges is a pain with gloves on.

    • Good point, a cold wind can water my eyes to the point I can’t aim. The glasses don’t seem to help much if it’s a side wind. Goggles, maybe? I’ve done a lot of skiing at high speed with goggles, and that’s been largely OK.

  4. I (used to) shoot the “Snow Bunny” match at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. It was all prone 800, 900 and 1000 yd in January. an 03A3 with a Obermeyer barrel and and a Litschert 10 power and V targets Some days I don’t know if it was worse in January or August. I think the cold was better because of all the insulation you packed on.

  5. After reading this post, I suddenly knew what the Guns & Ammo April edition will have as its April Fools spoof article: a renowned shooting expert demonstrating how to assemble, load and fire a 1911 while hogtied, handcuffed, blindfolded and wearing mittens, locked in a safe that has been tossed into the Delaware River on Christmas Eve.

  6. Hmm, well it’s not as though one must go out of one’s way to make things difficult. The scenario I’ve run into several times goes something like this;

    Due to deep snow I can’t drive close to my shooting position, not even with a 4 x 4, so I have to park and walk in. Also due to deep snow I must use snowshoes, and I must carry everything on my person, and that means all of it because I’m not making two trips. So I stuff ammo and magazines in pockets, wear the ear muffs or carry the little plugs instead, and sling one or two rifles, wearing one or two pistols. That might leave one hand free to carry targets or whatever else. Food or any water in pockets also. Cargo pants find their value here. If I’m going to do any bore cleaning it’s going to be with a bore snake, cause I’m not carrying rods and a kit. A “covered shooting position” at best will be getting into some trees to find a branch to use as a rest. Otherwise it’s shooting from a kneeling or standing position on snowshoes. Stuff like that.

    The less crap you can carry with you, the better, ’cause walking on level ground with a load while wearing snowshoes is like walking up a staircase with the same load, with weights on your feet. Uphill is much more difficult. Downhill is great because you can slliiiiiide with each step.

    • It’s either that or you wait for Spring thaw to sight in your new setup, or even to practice, so it’s not as though this were some kind of fancy stunt or anything like that. It’s what you do.

      And by the way it can be fun, so there’s that.

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