While perusing Facebook almost any day of the week, I find postings of shooters practicing at a range, competing in a match or just plinking in their own backyards. Not too often, but every once in a while, there’s also a photo showing a mishap. Sometimes, it’s a wound from splashback while shooting at steel or a slice in the web of someone’s strong hand from a “too-high” thumbs-forward grip.
These minor issues are handled easily with some medical tape or a bandage. But what happens when you have a major accident?
Imagine yourself shooting while at your favorite range in a bay. A medical emergency happens. Do you know where the trauma kit is? Is there even one readily available?
How about this one: You’re competing in a natural terrain 3-Gun match with stages spread out with some over a mile away. Again, there is a medical emergency on a stage. Where would you have to go to find a trauma kit? Is there one at every stage? Better yet, once you get the kit, would you be able to find what you need or have any idea how to use the tools inside?
When traveling with my husband, whether for training or competing, we always bring our North American Rescue Range Trauma Kit (MSRP: $368.99). Even if the hosting range has its own kit, we show ours to the class attendees and let them know where it will be kept. We try to keep it in a highly visible area, safely out of the elements.
I’ll admit, the contents are all compressed and organized so neatly in the bright-orange bag that I hesitate to dig around. However, it’s extremely important to know what first aid items are available inside and how to find what I need quickly. If your kit doesn’t have a content label that is easily seen, I strongly suggest you make one. That way, when an emergency happens, any item needed can quickly be found.
Safety at the Range
The following safety precautions should be taken when you arrive at a range for a class or a competition:
- Find out where the trauma kits are located. If you don’t see any, ask someone.
- If you are not given safety protocol for an emergency, ask. Find out—
- Who calls 911
- Who waits for emergency services at gate/door/entrance
- Who administers first aid
- Who the backup is if something happens to one of these people
- Make sure to know the address of the range.
- If you are the one calling 911, do NOT say there has been a shooting. A better description is, “There has been an accident at the range.”
If you arrive at a range and find out there are no trauma kits available (or at least near to where you are shooting), you have two options: Bring everything to a halt and demand that one be made available or carry your own.
To keep the peace—and peace of mind—I choose the second option. I keep an Individual Patrol Officers Kit (IPOK) with Combat Gauze (North American Rescue, $124.99) in the side pocket of my range bag. It’s an easy-to-open, vacuum-sealed package that is small (4×6.5×2.75 inches) and weighs just 7.4 ounces. Inside is one pair of Black Talon Nitrile Trauma Gloves, a Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT), one Combat Gauze LE Hemostatic Bandage and one Flat 4-inch Emergency Trauma Dressing (ETD). There is no excuse not to carry an IPOK in your personal range bag. The amount of money you invest is minor when it could mean saving someone’s life.
Learn How to Use IPOK Contents
Once you purchase an IPOK to carry in your range bag, learn how to use the contents. With a little online research and practice, you can learn to be comfortable using your C.A.T. When you reach Tactical Combat Casualty Care or TCCC (read as “T triple C”), you will find the guidelines used by combat medical personnel in the U.S. military.
For more information on various products contained in the North American Rescue Trauma Kit and how to use them, check the company’s website. You will also find downloadable videos available for personal use.
When you are on the range, there are many safety precautions—some mandatory—you should take. Eye protection, billed hats, long pants and long sleeves do much to cover parts of your body from shrapnel and hot brass. However, even with being aware of your surroundings and following the four firearms safety rules, accidents sometimes happen.
You need to be prepared mentally and physically for such an incident. An important part of having a trauma kit is not only what supplies it contains, but also having the knowledge and training to use what’s inside.
Do some research; it’s really pretty simple and interesting. Take matters into your own hands so you don’t have to depend on someone else for your safety. Be prepared!
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the December 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.