This article was inspired by my recent experience at the 2015 Sniper’s Hide Cup. The majority of the first day, and all of the first morning, were wet-windy-cold! I had done a few things to prepare and try to better outfit myself for the wet weather shooting conditions. Some of it worked great, some of it worked less than great. However, as the tactical rifle competition scene gets more popular and more people start to participate, more people will find themselves wet weather shooting. So in this article we’re going to go over some simple stuff you can do to prepare yourself and your rifle for a moist outing whether you are going to the range, on a hunting trip, or you happen to be one of our Military guys deployed in a wet weather shooting environment. The whole idea here is to keep yourself, and the rifle, as dry and comfortable as possible so you and rifle function better as a system despite the conditions!
Wet Weather Shooting
There are two components to successfully going wet weather shooting. You need to keep yourself dry, and you need to keep your rifle and gear dry. The reasons are fairly straightforward. If you are dry and warm, you are more comfortable, and you’ll shoot better and perform better. You need to keep parts of your rifle and gear dry not for comfort’s sake, but to ensure they function in the wet weather shooting environment. The thing you need be most concerned with in regard to your rifle is moisture in the chamber. Whether it gets in on wet cartridges, or blows in with the rain and wind, a wet chamber can cause pressure problems.
What happens is the water gets in the chamber and you have two issues that present themselves as a result. First, the moisture keeps the brass from properly sticking to the chamber wall. As the cartridge fires you have the case slamming back into the bolt with more force than usual. You will likely experience a sticky bolt and potentially a stuck case as a result of this depending how bad it gets. The other problem is water does not compress. That can lead to a spike in chamber pressure which only exacerbates the previous problem. This is why you need to keep the ammunition and chamber as dry as possible!
You also are going to want to invest in something easy to clean water out of your chamber and barrel while laying down a little oil to help fight rust at the same time. I got the tip from a good buddy of mine who had already done the wet weather shooting thing a few times in previous matches. It was a simple suggestion, I should have thought of it myself, but experience is the best teacher! The suggestion was buy a bore snake for your rifle. While it might not be your preferred way of cleaning up your barrel, it works. It’s also compact and can be rolled up and stuffed just about anywhere. I oiled mine and yanked it through the barrel a few times after the first day of wet weather shooting at the Sniper’s Hide Cup!
Pictured at the top of the article is a Sunrise Tactical dope arm board. We reviewed the Sunrise Tactical arm board previously, you can read it here! Every time moisture becomes a factor whether snow or rain, I see somebody scrambling and trying to deal with wet paper and runny ink. It doesn’t work when wet. A grease pencil on the face of a Sunrise Tactical arm board works flawlessly. The grease doesn’t run and it’s unaffected by water. I can’t recommend them enough!
Wet Weather Shooting Apparel
If you don’t want to be cold and miserable, you are going to need four basic things to address wet weather shooting and keep yourself dry and warm. Working from the ground up, you need a good set of boots. You really need two sets, one that breathes and is good for dry hiking around. You need a second, waterproof set of boots, for hiking around in wet weather shooting conditions. I foolishly left my waterproof footwear behind by mistake. I had a set of good hiking boots, but they got wet and the moisture soaked through fairly quickly. Wet and cold feet are the makings of a less than comfortable day, so remember to pack your waterproof boots.
Items two and three on the list are part of one overall component, a wet weather shooting suit. Also called snivel gear, rain gear, etc. We’re talking about a waterproof set of pants and a jacket. I strongly suggest you try them on at your local Cabelas, Walmart, Basspro, whatever and when you find a set that fits, buy the next size larger. Remember, these are designed to be pulled on over your pants and sweatshirt or your coat. You dress for the conditions and to keep yourself warm, the wet weather gear then has to slip on over all that. So you don’t want a set that fits real tight. You also want to be able to remove it easily if the sun comes out and you start heating up!
The last component you are likely to potentially forget, is a set of water proof gloves. You want to keep your hands warm so you retain the sensitivity in your fingers. Particularly when planning to shoot long range in cold and wet conditions. I had forgot to bring a set of gloves entirely and while I was okay for a while, sooner or later your hands get cold soaked and it starts to make accurate shooting problematic. So invest in a set of gloves that are waterproof. They need to be waterproof, because if they aren’t they will get soaked through and it will begin to do more harm than good!
Wet weather shooting is like anything else, if you have prepared for it, you can still have a lot of fun. If you don’t treat the wet weather shooting conditions with the respect they deserve and you refuse to adequately prepare, you are in for a less than fun experience. If you aren’t sure where to get stuff or what gear works well in wet weather shooting conditions, talk to your buddies that hunt! Hunters go out in some of the worst wet weather shooting conditions the world has to offer so they know what works, and what doesn’t. They can be a real asset when trying to plan where you want to spend your money to maximize your preparations for the moisture!