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Sara Tipton

I’m often asked why I make such poor footwear choices at the range. Men seem especially confused when they see me shooting in high heels or dresses. They seem to think I should be decked out in mossy oak camo with my feet shod in military style combat boots. While this might make sense, especially for those concerned about the burns from casings, I wear what I wear. I shoot in a dress, in high heels, in a ponytail, with my hair down, in skinny jeans or in yoga pants. I just shoot in anything I happen to be wearing that day because . . .

I want to be an effective shooter no matter what I wear.

Women are fortunate to have a farrago of clothing and shoe options available to us. Like a lot of women I never know what exactly I’ll be wearing on any given day. But I do know that on any given day, I may have to shoot my gun in self defense.  So I don’t change my clothing when I go to the range, no matter what I’m wearing. Ditto at home.

I live on ten acres; I have my own little handgun shooting range. I’ve woken up at 6 am, rolled out of bed in my pajamas, hair a mess, pulled on my UGG boots, gone outside and squeezed off a few rounds. And not just in the summer. I do random shoots in the winter too. I will sometimes just grab a handful of ammo, walk out of my house in what I’m in and practice with my concealed carry gun.

Obviously, immediate access to a shooting spot isn’t the norm. But the principle is simple, well-known and valid: train as you mean to fight. I highly recommend that both men and women wear the kinds of clothing and footwear during practice that they do in “everyday real life.” Armed Americans should be prepared to draw their gun on any day, in any season, wearing any outfit. This seems like a pretty good reason to shoot in high heels. If that’s the way you roll.

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  1. how do you keep your heels from sinking into the grass? I guess it’s different in Florida when it rains so much my wife’s heels sink into the grass every time and she always complains about it now she’s got a pair of Tactical boots I got her just so I don’t ruin any more hundred dollar hills. lol

  2. If I wore heels and a dress I wouldn’t have to worry about self defense. Even the crazies would run at seeing me.

  3. I don’t think the range would like it if I wore what I sleep in. But I think Saha is 100% correct. Will the bad guy let her go home and change before he attacks her? It would be nice if they did, but I somehow doubt it.

    • Same here, except that I’d probably get arrested for indecent exposure. And it’d be damn difficult to holster my gun…Just sayin.’

  4. Can’t argue with Sara. Makes perfect sense, can sure remember my past life in the business world, 5 days a week in high hell (that is not a misspell) pumps. Thirty + years of wearing them ruined my feet. Fortunately, now retired I can go causal Friday everyday. I have a couple of pairs of dress shoes that get worn once a year. Twice a year if someone dies.

  5. Male or female, if you can’t E&E due to your unwise clothing/footware choices it is time to get unstupid. Obviously this particularly applies to the must be trendy/faddish female set. Call it growing up.

    • I cannot imagine anyone being glad they were stylin’ as they draw their last breaths — mortally wounded because their “style” prohibited them effectively defending themselves.

  6. I think the range would object if I showed up just wearing my boxers but for the 6 hrs a day that I am in bed. .

  7. I wear high heels to the range too…oops wrong forum…

    but, train like you fight, fight like you train.

  8. And you look great doing it too Sara.

    My wife does the same…when she goes to the range with me, she has shown up in sneakers, boots or heels…

  9. I think her point is excellent, but I hate shooting next to women in bad range attire. I have seen too many instances of hot brass going down low cut tops and causing that person to get a little casual with their muzzle awareness. I have never seen too serious of an incident, but I can easily see them happening.

    • I don’t see any training advantage in wearing a low-cut shirt to the range, unless that’s how you access your carry gun. Besides, all the guys will watch intently while you bend over to pick up your brass.

      Seems like the gals should throw a t-shirt into their range bag to save time while being safety minded.

      • A few years ago a couple joined my gun club. I happened to be next to them on their first time on the pistol range, and noticed the woman was wearing a V neck on the low side. Not exposing anything, but you could just see the the potential for hot brass going where it shouldn’t.

        I pulled them aside at a break in the shooting and suggested she might want to reconsider her choice of attire and why. They thanked me, and any time after that when I saw them she had a crew neck. Some people listen.

        • My wife and I finally got into a local gun club with an indoor range. She was shooting in the stall to my right and wearing a tee shirt with a collar somewhat between and v-neck and crew neck. Some hot brass from a .22LR went down her shirt and she got a nasty burn. Left a mark for a week or so. Lesson learned.

    • On the other hand, I was shooting my M-1 prone at a DCM (now CMP) match years ago, and the Garand next to me tossed a hot .30-06 case down the back of my neck – while I was wearing a regular, collared long-sleeve shirt. Kind of takes your mind off your sight picture and proper breath control.

  10. I think gals look a lot more feminine in dresses and heels, but of course it is their choice what they want to wear, and there are many times when that attire isn’t appropriate.
    I think with most guys, they are more interested in what “underneath” the worn items, rather than the clothing it’s self. I am not one of them. I just happen to think Sara looks better in a dress!
    If I didn’t have reason enough already, I would vote against Hillbillyary Clinton, just because she always wearing them dam pants suits!

      • I thought a Steinway’s legs were much more sleek, streamlined and refined, whereas Hillary’s wood ( yes wood) more resemble tree stumps……

      • Soooooooo, just curious since Caitlyn was mentioned, who would be everyone vote for “MOST Attractive”

        Caitlyn or Hillary ?????????????????????

    • Reminds me of a SNL bit where you saw these legs (and only legs) in heels and nylons, and the audience was asked to vote for the best looking pair of legs. When the vote was done, Garret Morris was the winner of the five male contestants.

  11. I don’t wear high heels, never did, and can’t imagine why anyone would want to do so, especially from a self defense angle. But each to his/her own. 🙂

    Aside from that problem, Sara is absolutely right. Unfortunately, I hear from a lot of people that the range they go to won’t allow anything but straight on target shooting; not even drawing from a belt holster, let alone any CC rig. I would imagine many, if not most, also have “dress codes.”

    Those who are limited this way would do well to find private or “public” land where they could practice more realistically.

    And Alex… “bad range attire” is no more responsible for poor observation of the four safety rules than the gun is responsible for NDs or murders. It’s a matter of training, following the rules regardless of what one is wearing… Hot brass is no more of an excuse than anything else.

    • I would imagine many, if not most, also have “dress codes.”

      I’ve never been to a range with a dress code (which doesn’t mean that they aren’t out there), but wearing things like hats and caps, shoes rather than sandals and tops that are cut neck-high do protect against flying brass and would seem to make sense.

      • Saw this video a couple of years ago about this army dude in Afghanistan shooting a machine gun, He was wearing some loose shoes, and a couple rounds of brass got in there.
        Man that was funny watching him hopping all over the place, while still trying to shoot.

      • I don’t really know about dress codes at ranges in general. We had one at the club I belonged to in Calif., but it wasn’t strict. The only dress code here in Wyoming is that clothing is not optional. LOL Gotta be wearing something.

        Yes, I’ve had hot brass go down my neck, or hit my face a few times. Didn’t see it as a big thing, really. Just moved farther away from the person shooting to my left. I shoot left handed often, and get hit with my own brass from time to time.

        I think that the benefit of training in pretty much whatever you wear daily, to work or to play, would be a good thing. You could take it too far, obviously. And if target shooting is all you anticipate for the future, then serious “range clothes” would be the ideal.

        If, however, you might be the target of a mugger one night as you return to your car after work… well, it would be nice to have the training necessary to access your gun no matter what you were wearing.

        My late husband used to sleep in his birthday suit… so today I had some fun imagining him jumping up in the middle of the night and running out to the kitchen with his pistol – and not much else. Some of us are easily entertained. 🙂

        • MamaLiberty,
          I kinda favor shorts to bed in case of the Unexpected, fire, prowler ????
          Your comment had me smile, as I thought of the occasional times I happen to fall asleep in MY suit, that alone would probably scare a prowler. Not to mention having two things loaded pointing towards him, my pistol and my ……………………bladder…

    • While I discourage female students and friends from wearing low cut tops to the range because of the “brass meet breasts” issue, I once had hot brass get caught between the temple on my glasses and my face. That will also get your attention. Or down an open necked button front shirt. Or a V neck, etc., etc Point being this can be an issue no matter how “sensibly” one is dressed.

      We all need to keep muzzle safety uppermost, no matter the duress you may be under. Or the duress your dress causes.

      • I’ve had the brass get caught between the arm on the safety goggles, also. Pretty good exercise in remaining accurate under stress and distraction.

    • I don’t wear high heels, never did, and can’t imagine why anyone would want to do so, My Daughters are hilarious to watch in high heels. They spend more time falling on the ground than walking. It is more fun than the Keystone Cops.

  12. I thought you just moved to WY Sara? Were you able to do random shoots in “winter” at your house in CA?

  13. I can see the philosophy being a good one, but I will say I totally change when I go to an indoor range. Jeez that .22 brass going down one’s shirt burns like crazy. I’m adding a brass catcher to my AR22 because I’m tired of it.

  14. I tried to shoot wearing my night clothes, in case someone broke in at 2AM. The guys down at the range didn’t appreciate me being in nothing but my tighty whities.

    • When I go the range to shoot, with my night clothes, I don’t take anything, except a roll of toilet paper

  15. Needs more tacticool? Is that the gist of the man-splaining being given to you at the range?

    Tipton is obviously right — if much, most, or the entire point of the exercise for PotG is to be ready to defend themselves if the moment actually arises, that moment will not wait until you are kitted out for an unsecured and possibly hostile quick-dining burrito restaurant. It’s just going to look like your ordinary life until it happens.

    Which for women could very well mean… with heels on, or in a dress. If you aren’t comfortable shooting in whatever you’ve got on, you probably won’t be ready to shoot if you have to.

    • No offense but the term “man-splaining” is liberal speak for White Men need not apply. Let’s not use the language of tyranny.

  16. Hey, if training w/ what you normally wear includes beautiful women shooting in their summer bikinis, I’m all for that!

  17. I like chicks in heels(my wife has the best legs EVER). I also see gals in flip-flops and sandals who’d have a seriously hard time running,shooting or defending their lives. If you wanna’ wear heels have at it-it’s your life Sara…

    • When I was in the USN getting liberty in Japan (1950’s) they called them “Gook boots” They usually cost a buck a pair. About the only time we wore them was in the shower.

  18. This will be the only time I say this, but Sarah’s content is less interesting and relevant as of late and it seems to be in heavy rotation. Delete this comment if you want, but it’s pretty much like all of those lists of things every concealed carry needs to know before leaving the house with a gun that keep getting repackaged, numbered, and reposted on gun websites, or alluded to on ads on gun websites.

    • But. . . her pic includes a gun.

      shhhh shh shhhhh

      Sometimes you just gotta sit quietly and marvel at God’s craftsmanship.

    • At least with the Kirsten Joy Weiss posts we usually learned something. The whole “Take that fudds, I’m not your average girl!” tone is tiresome.

  19. I often go to indoor ranges in (male) business dress, including a tie some of the time, because that is what I usually wear to work. I once took an AK-47 to an indoor range wearing a jacket and tie because I did not want to change. I get some strange looks, but I also have been asked more than once if I am law enforcement. That may be a statement on bad fashion choice, but being mistaken for an LEO might improve my personal safety. I have seen other guys as well as myself at the National Forest range in business pants and dress boots, with jackets and ties hanging in the car while we are out there with various evil black rifles. Sara T. in heels with her AR would be a welcome addition. My best to you, Sara — wish I had the 10 acres.

  20. Damn, I knew shooting in flip flops would pay off. Now if I’m attacked on the beach, I’m GTG.

  21. Well, I do Spartan Races and tower climbs in jeans and button-down shirts. So I have no right to judge someone’s sartorial choices.

  22. You make an excellent case. I’d like to offer a thoughtful counter response. The reason a person may be critical of someone wearing inappropriate footwear could be a matter of safety.

    Firstly let’s dismiss the false dichotomy of high heels or mossy oaks. I really don’t think anyone would mention it if you were to wear tennis shoes to the range.

    High heels in loose dirt however can prose a significant hazard. This type of shoe was not designed for this type of ground, so much so that it creates a significant tripping hazard.

    Falling with a gun is dangerous for anyone, no matter how well trained they are. While on your private range, you are not really a threat to other people should you fall and accidentally fire your weapon in an uncontrolled manner.

    At a public range however, should you loose your footing at an inopportune moment, myself, my loved ones, or perhaps even someone I don’t like very much may end up being your bullet stop,

    I know people wearing mossy oak hunting boots can fall also. It’s really more of a matter of probability.

    It certainly has nothing to do with your gender, if a man showed up to the range walking on stilts, bouncing on a pogo stick, or riding a unicycle, I would express the same concerns.

  23. My Wife and Daughters usually dress like slobs. The Horsey Daughter dresses and smells like a Cowgirl.

    • I notice that a lot in the last 20 to 30 years. Women, (and guys) tend to slack off on their attire after the catch their spouse.
      My wife would never think of wearing jeans in a nice restaurant. Save that for McDonald’s, and the gun range.
      Actually, most people could care less how they look, and in most cases I suppose, it doesn’t matter.
      I still like to see women looking feminine, but that’s just me.

          • Same here. My wife can (and does) hike 10-15 miles with full pack, ride off road motorcycles with me, but she still loves dressing to the nines (including heels) to go out on a date night with me.

        • Ben L
          Your very fortunate to a wife like that.
          one in a hundred!
          I feel sorry for “Indiana Tom”, but maybe he’s getting used to the smell by now.

  24. I used to train with a martial arts instructor who would tell us to come in even when we felt sick. His outlook was that you aren’t going to know how good you are going to feel when someone attacks you. Same principle. You should go shooting in all the different attire you wear.

  25. I agree with this. One should train to shoot as they are likely to be equipped if they ever need to defend themselves. This is why I find most forms of IPSC and many aspects of IDPA pointless, you’re not going to walk around in daily life geared up with a race gun or wearing a “shoot me” vest.

    I’d love to see an organization that requires you to sign an affidavit that the gun you will be shooting is your EDC and your clothing and gear are what you have with you every day. if you normally open carry, open carry for the run. If you conceal, conceal the same way for the run.

  26. Damn, she looks sexy! That is one smart talented gal.

    Hummmmm- Reminder to self….. go practice shooting skills on next crappy , rainy cold day. Also force myself to practice in low-light and darkness situations. It won’t always be dry, daylight and 70 degrees, when a conflict might arise.

  27. There’s certainly nothing wrong with shooting in a dress. Even training in a dress, in my opinion. I respect more a lady who rides sidesaddle. Of course, a low-cut dress exposing cleavage is a recipe for disaster when combined with firearms that eject hot brass into the air. But you can make your own clothing choices, you’re an adult. Personally, I try to dress practically for the range by covering more skin (pants, long sleeves), buttoning up my shirt, and often wearing a cap and gloves. Not really much differently than I’d dress off-range, similar to how I’d dress for hiking where I want some basic protection over my skin. Also they say it’s a good idea to have a dedicated range outfit that you don’t wear off the range, so that you don’t walk around covered in lead particles.

  28. Live like you wanna live. Practice like you carry with what you carry.

    I always get tickled when I see folks “practicing” with a low-leg holster and 10 magazines on a vest and then toss a 38 snub in their pocket when they get in the car to leave.

    Carry on!

  29. Sara I think its great that you’re taking a real world approach to defensive shooting practice with clothing and footwear you commonly wear, but you should also practice what you preach when it comes to proper stance. Check out this video: . The old dude in the video knows a thing or two about shooting a pistol, at 4:15 of the video he addresses proper stance which includes this quote regarding the antiquated Weaver stance “WE ALL DID BACK IN THE DAY WHEN WE DIDN’T KNOW ANY BETTER”. There’s a reason that for defensive shooting purposes, most top shooters and instructors got away from the outdated and less practical Weaver stance years ago and went with a squared up isosceles or modified isosceles stance, only a few holdouts like Gunsite insist on clinging to the Weaver. If you take time to think about and listen to Jerry Miculek’s advice in the video on proper stance and why the isosceles or a similar variant are more practical and stable, it should be clear, it’s the natural stance to assume in a sudden OH $#IT encounter and most importantly there is no unnecessary movement or time wasted to engage the target. It was established long ago that under stress in real world armed encounters, even hardcore Weaver trained shooters usually revert to an isosceles or a similar variation. There’s nothing wrong with using the Weaver for hunting or pure target shooting, but it’s an undesirable habit (especially in high heels) if you’re really serious about practical training for real world defensive shooting scenarios

    • Wow That’s kind of aggressive! Do you know Sarah personally? Because if you don’t You might be making a statement that isn’t much true eitherJust saying, you sound a little bit like an anti gunnerI hope this isn’t true But if it is you’re welcome here just the sameBut ouch That hurtLol

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