Why I Wear Flip Flops While Shooting

I wear flip flops almost every day and have done so for nearly my entire life. Therefore, I wear flip flops while shooting. This seems to upset some people when I post photos or videos online, so I’ll take a moment to explain further.

Tactical Prancing

Train How You Fight

I have said this a few times lately, but it really is important to “train how you fight.” A long time ago, I was working on the “Lifesaving” merit badge. I had the fastest rescue time in part due to my ability to kick off flip flops much faster than the other kids could remove their shoes. Someone complained to a counselor, who said, “Andrew always wears flip flops, so he should wear them here, too.” The same principle applies to concealed carry.

When I go to the range to practice drawing from concealment, I use the exact belt, holster, pistol, and clothing setups that I use for everyday concealed carry. Most people seem to agree with this sentiment – after all, it’s pretty silly to do all of your shooting practice with a 1911 from the low ready if you carry a .38 snubnose in an ankle holster. I simply extend the concept to include my footwear.

While many people see flip flops as a detriment or drawback, I see them as comfy and easy to put on/take off. Did I mention comfy? I live in an area where triple digit temperatures are common, but even when I lived in Alaska I wore them during the summer.

There are occasions during which I wear shoes or boots: when I’m riding a motorcycle, when I’m on a long hike or walk, and some of the time when I work on cars, motorcycles, or airplanes. I will therefore sometimes wear shoes while shooting. For example, if I ride my motorcycle to the range, it would make sense that the shooting that day would include shoes.

Most of the time, however, I wear flip flops… so I wear flip flops while shooting. There are a number of reasons why people find this objectionable – here are the more common criticisms.

“But You’ll Get Hot Brass Between Your Toes And Then Shoot Someone”

There are a number of arguments against shooting while wearing flip flops, and one of the least valid (to me, at least) is the “hot brass” argument. I can simply say from experience – shooting three or four times per week, every week for years on end, wearing flip flops at least 60% of the time, that I have only had hot brass land on my feet or between my toes a few times. For me, it is a non-issue. I have no problems maintaining bearing and muzzle discipline while I make a minor movement to rid myself of the troublesome case, whether it lands inside my shirt or between my toes. However, I have a higher pain tolerance than most people seem to have, at least in this regard.

“But You’ll Lose A Flip Flop And Then Shoot Someone”

If you take a look at the above photo, you’ll see that my right foot is curved in an odd manner and my little toe is sticking out somewhat. This is due to how I run while wearing flip flops: I curve my feet so as to keep the footwear attached. Yes, I (used to, before I hurt my knee) occasionally run while wearing flip flops. My all-time best mile run while wearing flip flops and carrying a 30lb backpack is 8:16. It is almost entirely avoidable to lose a flip flop while running, if proper methods are used.

I do sometimes have a flip flop fall off of a foot while I am moving backwards or stepping over or near obstacles – the back edge of the footwear will catch on something and be propelled off my foot. To avoid this, I keep my heels high if I am backing up or stepping over obstacles while wearing flip flops. Unlike keeping them on while running forward, this is not entirely avoidable. However, like the brass hitting my toes, it has almost no discernible effect on my shooting. I will simply finish whatever the string of fire may be and then retrieve my errant footwear.

“But You’ll Hurt Your Foot And Then Shoot Someone”

Because I wear flip flops every day, I am rather used to stubbing my toes or people stepping on my toes or getting splinters or cactus spines stuck in my feet and so on. I even had a toenail ripped out once. Therefore, it is not a big deal when these same things happen while I am shooting. As I said before, it is not a problem to maintain muzzle discipline when something unexpected happens. If it is hard for you to not dance around pointing a gun at people with your finger on the trigger when a minor problem occurs, maybe you should not own or use guns.

Valid Reasons To Not Wear Flip Flops While Shooting

I can think of two valid reasons to not wear flip flops while shooting:

– My feet get really dirty if I’m shooting all day
– It doesn’t look entirely professional

So in the future when I’m teaching a class, I might avoid wearing flip flops, simply because it might not present the professional image someone might expect when they pay good money for training. However, for day-to-day practice, I will continue to use whatever footwear I happen to be wearing when I leave for the range.

45 thoughts on “Why I Wear Flip Flops While Shooting”

  1. I recently took a handgun training class, where I was the only person working from concealment. Apparently the other folks taking the class (photographer, banker, office worker, landscaper, yoga instructor, and a few others) wear a battle belt on a daily basis. You’re taking a handgun class, why’n the eff does you belt have AR mags, smoke grenades, and a hunting knife attached to it!?!

    While I do shoot/practice in floppity flips, I’m sad to say that I didn’t take the class in them, honestly not even sure if that would’ve been allowed.

    1. not a fan of range rigs for this reason, funny to watch what happens when you force people outside of what the believe to be true and make them proof their kit/game plan. This is one of the pillars of the Vuurwapen Concepts training course….everything must be holistic and practical.

  2. Lots of people look at me like I’m a complete psycho when I show up for a match in steel toed boots.

    They are what I wear every day, I put them on without thinking about it. I’m not awesome enough to need cleats to improve my scores.

    1. oh cudos!! you out Rick Taylor’ed me!!!!

      Seldom happens….

      What does Rick Taylor wear to the range?

      Combat flip flops of course!

  3. I always thought it looked odd but never thought there was so much criticism against you jesus flappers if thats the way you roll so what your a damn fine shot and the armchair generals are just jealous that you shoot great and dont worry about getting a blister in your tacticool boots

  4. If I could shoot in flip flops at the ranges I frequent I would. If only for the ability to practice movement while shooting while wearing the same stuff I do regularly. I do plenty of dry fire practice in them however, it isn’t always the same.

  5. I’ve gotten ejected shells down my shirt and, once, lodged between my glasses and my face. I didn’t shoot anyone, but I guess I should stop wearing shirts and glasses while shooting, just in case.

  6. What if a breeze gradually cools your feet until you can’t feel them and decide to prod them just to make sure they’re still attached and you shoot your own foot, and then in a fit of anger you pounce, and pounce again, and shoot someone?

  7. Couldn’t agree more on training as you live/carry. FYI – Your right pinky toe is freakishly long….WTF?

    Semper Fi,

  8. I freaked out a lot of folks at a three gun match by shooting it in chacos. At first they called em flip-flops (a pejorative term at the time.) By the end of the match they were called “tactical sandals”. My “tactical sandals” and I managed to beat most of the booted and sneakered shooters.

    Bottom line, I support sandals and shooting. Your footware never wierded me out.

  9. “But You’ll Get Hot Brass Between Your Toes And Then Shoot Someone”
    Hot brass rarely gets in to my sandals, but each time it has happened, I have managed to maintain control. The last time it happened, it was only a 22LR, but I managed to keep the muzzle down range and flip on the safety before putting the rifle on the shooting bench.

    FWIW, I wear multi-strap Columbia sandals, which stay on my feet far better than flip-flops and have better tread. However, it’s a lot harder to shake debris out of them.

    1. 22LR and 9mm brass in my Tevas = reason why I wear socks with sandals to the range. Well, that and pure sexiness.

  10. Word.

    As a huge proponent of flip flops I wholeheartedly agree with this post.

    Check out the Chaco Pro-Flip. I’ve had a pair for five years or so. Best money I’ve ever spent on anything. My go to footwork for all hikes under 15 miles and carrying less than 10lbs. I think they may have changed the name, just make sure they have the Vibram sole.

  11. As a professional sandal model I totally disagree with your opinion that they are somehow unprofessional looking.

  12. Good points, as always. The old addage “if it seems stupid but works – it ‘aint stupid” applies.
    You really want to freak people out during a class? Mariah Carey rainbow-shirt and fivefingers. Pure win.

  13. Makes perfect sense to me. You train with whatever scenario is most likely to present itself. Sure, you should still train in other attire that you wear, but it should be proportionate with how much you wear it. Common sense. Anyone who argues to the contrary is not very bright.

    Think I remember some commentary about the attire of a soldier or Marine wearing some unusual attire as he had been awakened from his slumber by the sounds of combat. I’d want his gun in the fight faster more than I’d want him properly attired.

  14. I have an uncle who spent Tet shooting in flip-flops, boxers, t-shirt, TA-50 and a pot. He says the foot gear was not a issue. In that scrum, the other team also wore sandals. As a matter of fact you could call sandals the official footwear of asymmetric warfare. Then again at one time the Heavies wore sandals…SPQR!

    If Andrew wants to shoot in flip-flops, that’s awesome. Mission drives the gear.


  15. Like all the other pipe-hitting snake-eaters in my unit, I like to get a mani-pedi before a big mission. Nothing disturbs me more in a firefight than a hang nail. That said, I don’t wear flip-flops or sandals to the range because I don’t want to damage the artwork that Antwon and Miyuk have placed on my toes.

  16. I wouldn’t wear flip flops to teach a class even if it were in a classroom, it is not the right appearance in my opinion. I think that doing it for a specific purpose or to prove a point would require changing into them just for a drill.

    There are many things I don’t have on me on a daily basis that just make sense when you are on the range. I don’t always have sunglasses on, I don’t always have ear pro on me, I don’t wear long sleeves very often, but they all make sense at the range. The only issue I see with flip flops is that you can trip on them or injure your feet. Out at the range that we are on, that is easy to do while running around in gravel and dirt. I don’t think shooting in your boxers or shirtless is really dangerous (in the life and limb fashion), but most of us wouldn’t consider it proper range attire.

  17. I especially like this one: “If it is hard for you to not dance around pointing a gun at people with your finger on the trigger when a minor problem occurs, maybe you should not own or use guns.”

    All I can guess is that people asking about the hot brass have no real experience shooting. I’ve had hot brass in the front of my shirt, the back of the neck, on my upper arms, middle of the forehead, on my cheeks (the facial ones), and other unpleasant places, all from civilian classes and practice shooting with no funny business. You shoot pistols enough, it happens (shoot a first gen Steyr M9 and it happens a lot more). It’s not fun, but anyone who’s going to do any shooting with an autoloader needs to be able to deal with it without more than a little flinching. (Oh yeah, hats and collars help, but don’t offer 100% protection.)

    1. Never violate rule number #1 for rule number #2……..(rule number 1 is look good, rule number 2 is be good)…..this is a joke…..but actually I am totally serious

  18. My kids (one is a USMC Lt. & the other a college soccer player) tell me my crocs are gay, so I take their fashion advice with a grain of salt. Since I left the Navy (although I never stopped being a Corpsman in my heart), I have stayed in medicine. They may not be the height of fashion, but they go on fast, are comfortable when you spend endless hours on your feet. I keep them by my bed, also, because while I’m not paranoid about home invasions, burglaries etc, there are times when you need to GTFO fast.

    Two things come to mind. When I was a young married HM3 in the Philippines, we had an earthquake like none I had never experienced, and running barefoot out of the house, then running back in to grab my dobie who was still a bit “doped up” from ear surgery made me realize footwear would’ve been useful.

    The other was a very serious house fire that force my folks to carry us through an inferno. My Mom’s nightgown caught fire and was ablaze and she suffered terribly in the months that followed (no fire-retardant clothing back then), but my Dad only suffered severe burns on his feet, which he likely would’ve avoided by wearing something on his feet. Sadly, they’re both gone now, but I still cringe when I think of the stories of the daily debridement of the burned tissue and the pain that not even massive doses of morphine and demerol could alleviate.

    Wear what you like, just wear something.

  19. It is good to see more guys taking care of the feet and wearing flip flops. If a guy takes care of their feet then you bet the rest of their body is also well taken care of. However I would bitch at my boyfriend if he wore them while shooting since we train in the event zombies attack. =D

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