Gun World - - Preps -

When the weather’s right, there’s noth­ing like pulling up to an empty out­doors gun range early in the morn­ing on a week­day. The week­end crowd is gone, as is the in­evitable range chat that comes with it. There’s no hang­ing around at your ta­ble, wait­ing around for other folks in or­der to go down range to check or change your tar­gets. Of course, I also like watch­ing movies in empty the­aters. Go fig­ure.


How­ever, that soli­tude comes with a price. That price is be­ing able to deal with an emer­gency on your own, with­out the sup­port or help of oth­ers. The same is true for hunters or back­pack­ers who like to strike off on their own. Nev­er­the­less, for the sake of this dis­cus­sion, we’ll keep it re­lated to be­ing ready for such an event while shoot­ing solo at a range.

Many dif­fer­ent mishaps can oc­cur dur­ing range ses­sions that could cause se­ri­ous in­jury. Just watch any num­ber of YouTube videos in which peo­ple shoot them­selves while prac­tic­ing their pis­tol draw or when a gun suf­fers a cat­a­strophic fail­ure. Even a ran­dom ric­o­chet can re­sult in a great day turn­ing into a lifeor-death strug­gle.

This leads us to the ques­tion of how pre­pared we are for that mo­ment when we must deal with a trau­matic in­jury all on our own. Cer­tainly, there are some in­juries so trau­matic and that re­sult in such shock that ef­fec­tive self-care is not a real pos­si­bil­ity. How­ever, for those wounds that can be man­aged un­til pro­fes­sional emer­gency as­sis­tance is ac­ces­si­ble, there are a few things worth con­sid­er­ing.


To pre­pare for such an event, it’s my per­sonal opin­ion that five key fac­tors will de­ter­mine the out­come. The first is knowledge. That seems to go with­out say­ing, but quite of­ten, folks will gear up with first aid equip­ment with­out re­ally know­ing how to use it. Even more com­pli­cated is the com­plex­ity of the hu­man body and the cor­rect pro­to­cols for deal­ing with dif­fer­ent types of wounds.


Like any other sub­ject that needs to be ap­proached se­ri­ously, train­ing in first aid is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal to in­crease the chances of be­ing able to ef­fec­tively man­age an in­jury and sur­vive. Aside from stan­dard first aid train­ing—even ad­vanced lev­els—it wouldn’t hurt to take a wilder­ness first aid course.

These types of cour­ses fo­cus on how to deal with in­juries when typ­i­cal first aid equip­ment and per­son­nel aren’t avail­able. Whether it’s us­ing a sleep­ing pad to sta­bi­lize a leg or cut­ting a pack strap to make a tourni­quet, the abil­ity to im­pro­vise in the field will greatly im­prove your chances. One place of­fer­ing that kind of train­ing is Ran­dall’s Ad­ven­ture Train­ing’s Ditch Medicine Course (www.Ran­dall­sAd­ven­


There’s an old joke about a tourist stop­ping a man on the street and ask­ing him how to get to Carnegie Hall. The stranger grins and replies, “Prac­tice, prac­tice, prac­tice.” Ob­tain­ing knowledge through a class is great, but as we know from our school days, the knowledge won’t stick un­less reg­u­lar prac­tice oc­curs.

The next fac­tor, prac­tice, is how we get bet­ter, more ef­fi­cient and re­in­force what we’ve learned. In a group set­ting, prac­tice is also one way to stay up­dated on new trends and how to learn new tech­niques or pro­ce­dures from oth­ers. Fi­nally, prac­tice is also a way to shake out gear to find what works well and what doesn’t.


Af­ter gain­ing the req­ui­site knowledge and de­vel­op­ing a proper mind­set through prac­tice, it’s time to move to the next fac­tor, and that’s hav­ing ef­fec­tive “preps,” or sup­plies, to do the job. This is usu­ally the first thing most peo­ple do in pre­par­ing to deal with first aid and wound man­age­ment. I did this my­self, but I learned some lessons that might be help­ful to oth­ers.

With­out real knowledge in first aid, and with­out prac­tic­ing dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios, a lot of money can get wasted on items that aren’t re­ally needed, aren’t as ef­fec­tive as other brands or de­signs, or can­not be em­ployed ef­fec­tively by the solo user in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions.

For in­stance, if one hand or arm is dis­abled, can the gear in the first aid kit be opened, used or ap­plied with just one hand? Is the gear sim­ple and in­tu­itive, mak­ing it eas­ier for the per­son to use while in shock and with their fine mo­tor skills rapidly de­grad­ing? This type of ex­per­tise and un­der­stand­ing can in­crease the qual­ity of wound man­age­ment, and it can also save the user a lot of time, money and frus­tra­tion dur­ing the process of build­ing a kit or pack.



Fi­nally, the last fac­tor that will help im­prove the odds is dis­ci­pline. When as­sem­bling a trauma pack or larger first aid kit, dis­ci­pline and fol­lowthrough are just as im­por­tant as any­thing else we’ve talked about.

If the kit has been raided for an item, make sure that item is promptly re­placed. If the kit has been used, go through a check­list to re­fill it to make sure ev­ery­thing is where it needs to be. As civil­ians, our kits will (hope­fully) not be used on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Some items need to be ro­tated out ev­ery so of­ten due to ex­pi­ra­tion dates or degra­da­tion of ma­te­ri­als.

A good prac­tice is to de­velop a semi-an­nual or an­nual rou­tine of check­ing out the equip­ment and mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing is present and not ex­pired. Dis­ci­pline also en­tails mak­ing sure that the trauma pack or kit is ac­ces­si­ble at all times and not at home, sit­ting on a work­bench. Even hav­ing one in the ve­hi­cle may not be good enough.

Some­thing I no­ticed dur­ing SIG Sauer’s range day at this year’s SHOT Show was that each range of­fi­cer was car­ry­ing a trauma pouch on their belt. I thought that not only dis­played their level of knowledge and pro­fes­sion­al­ism, but it also il­lus­trates a point. Even in the midst of hun­dreds of peo­ple avail­able to as­sist, and with EMTs sit­ting just out­side the fence, sec­onds still mat­ter. The abil­ity to re­act to a sit­u­a­tion im­me­di­ately could make all the dif­fer­ence. That sense of ur­gency in a dire cir­cum­stance in­creases ex­po­nen­tially for the lone shooter on the range. In some cases, hav­ing a kit in the ve­hi­cle will be about as use­ful as hav­ing it on the moon. GW

Be­low left: Prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant as­pect of hav­ing a trauma pack is hav­ing it with you when it’s needed. A com­pact kit should be on your per­son at all times when run­ning solo at the range. Be­low: While cus­tomiz­ing a per­sonal kit is a good idea,...

Agen­cies and branches of the mil­i­tary prac­tice and re­in­force their skills in deal­ing with in­juries on the field. Any­one who is se­ri­ous about their safety and the safety of oth­ers should do the same.

Prac­tic­ing high-speed skills dur­ing live fire can lead to ac­ci­dents on the range, so hav­ing the knowledge and ca­pac­ity to ad­dress in­juries while alone is a vi­tal prepa­ra­tion to make.

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