Shooting and safety: personal protection

Over the next few weeks I’ll be doing a series of posts based on shooting and safety, the first of which is about personal protection.

Last year I had the great pleasure of becoming a qualified CPSA safety officer, attending a course that taught me a great deal about firearms and shooting. This course goes into significant detail, so I thought I would share some of the key points that might be of interest.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that while it’s the “nut behind the butt” (as an old coach put it) that’s in control of the gun, they’re still dangerous weapons and accidents do happen. You must treat all guns with the respect they deserve – and that means all guns, including air rifles.

It’s also extremely vital to protect yourself as best you can. All shooting grounds that are members of a shooting association (home nations including CPSA, WCTSA, SCTA, UCPSA, ICPSA) enforce safety rules in order to protect athletes. It’s our job to ensure that we follow them, as it’s in our best interest to stay safe!

This notably includes eye, ear and head protection.

Eye protection

Whilst we use eye protection to our advantage, using coloured lenses that best help us pick up targets, they are primarily there to protect our eyes from shot fall out and broken clays.

Ear protection

Ear protection is also essential to stop us from damaging our hearing, which is easily done. As an example, the sound of a shotgun going off and noise being measured at the shoulder registers at 120dB. To put this in perspective, the average nightclub plays music at 100dB.

Now, there are plenty of options when it comes to ear defenders, but one point I think is important is that ‘ear muffs’ (pictured below, top image) protect your hearing significantly better than ‘ear plugs’ (pictured below, bottom image). Ear muffs cover the whole ear, including part of the surrounding area, while plugs only protect the main ear canal.

Personal protective wear, demonstrating ear muffs and ear plugs

This doesn’t sound important; however, it is! Sound is also transmitted through the walls of our ears. Now I’m no doctor, but my understanding is that our outer ear collects the sound vibrations and channels this into our ear canal. Some athletes who train and compete regularly choose to use both plugs and muffs, in order to protect their hearing as best as possible.

Head protection

What I mean by head protection is a hat. Some sort of headwear, whether that be a baseball cap, or a bobble hat, it will still offer a level of protection. This isn’t enforced quite as much as eye and ear protection but it’s no less important. Whilst it will still hurt, headwear will help lessen the impact of broken clays, should they fall and hit you.

Whilst broken clays shouldn’t be falling on or next to the stand, sometimes wind can interfere and bring them towards us, while if you’re shooting in the sun or in heat it can also protect you from heatstroke. And also, I find hats really helpful to keep the strands of hair that fall out of my hair bobble out of my face!

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© 2019 Georgina Roberts.