"Are we hot?"... "Is the line clear?"... "Is it safe to go downrange?"
All of these questions are instrumental when operating a safe shooting range. It's important to not only ask them before you handle a firearm or start your journey downrange to check a target, but obviously you need to be able to hear the answer from the range safety officer and the rest of the shooters. The problem comes in with your ear protection, which is (of course) designed to muffle sound. Electronic ear muffs have changed the game regarding this and have taken this potential safety hazard down a few pegs, thankfully. It isn't unusual to have more than half of the firing line using them…and they are usually the poor souls tapping their cheapskate buddy on the shoulder, telling him to unload. Affordable electronic ear protection like the Walker's Razor ear muffs are largely responsible for this and their use extends into hunting applications as well.
However, what about that guy who is 300 yards downrange? What about a facility that houses multiple shooting pits? What if we need to address all of these folks at the same time? The folks in the lab at GSM certainly thought along those lines as well, and have created the Razor Walkie Talkie add-on that clips to your Razor headset instantly, boosting your communication range.
Utilizing the 3.5mm audio jack, the walkie talkie attachment simply slips on and feeds received messages from other radios right through your existing speakers. Calls can be made via a traditional push-to-talk system, or you can use the voice-activated transmission setting. I decided to put these through some testing with three fellow instructors at Renaissance Firearms Instruction for this evaluation. We gave them a go in a few different scenarios that included basic training, advanced training and hunting.
The first test scenario was at one of our Basic Rifle Courses. Our firing line stretches more than 60 feet, and getting a message over to an instructor on the other side over the sounds of gunfire is not as simple as you would think. We used the standard push-to-talk setting on this one and were able to easily keep track of which students needed help with what, and when we would need a ceasefire to go downrange to check or replace targets.
While the voice-activated setting or VOX is very handy, we decided not to use it in this scenario because we were constantly talking to other people, and it wasn't necessary to include each other in our conversations with our respective students. Before giving the students the go-ahead to go downrange and take care of their target, and the other instructor and I criss-cross as we both inspect every firearm on the line to ensure it is empty and has a chamber flag in it. Once we got to the other side of the line, it was refreshing to be able to back up our visual hand signal with clear spoken indication that the firearms were all clear and it was safe to go downrange.
In our second scenario we used the VOX setting to great success. In this scenario we went turkey hunting for a little bit of well-earned R&R. Spread out across a large field, all three of us each took a post and waited for that monster gobbler to come out. While trying to remain as still as possible we didn’t want to have to touch the external button to let each other know if we have seen or heard something. This was a terrific application of the voice-activated transmission system, which took just a bit more than a whisper to get the message to our buddies. All the while the Razor earmuffs picked up natural ambient sound better than my naked ears could, and we were able to clearly hear anything that moved in the woods.
In our third scenario we tested ear protection in our most advanced course to date, Defensive Shooting II: Shooting on the Move. Here we used these again to great effect, as this course takes place in two areas. One area is set up for static shooting, and the second is set up for dynamic movement drills. Our instructors Matt and Sean each man a pit and work with a group of students. About halfway through, the students swap pits to learn new information from a different instructor. Here I oversee the entire operation and help manage time. This is where the priority channel setting excelled, as I was able to "break in" when I needed to give Matt and Sean an update on schedule or any other information that might be important.
We found that the advertised 12 hours of talk time on just 3 AAA batteries to be obtainable, especially if you aren't particularly chatty and are using quality alkaline batteries (like the ones included). At only $49.99 The Walker’s walkie talkie attachment is an easy buy for you and your family to keep in touch on the firing line, especially when mom’s teaching shotgun on one side of the facility and dad’s teaching rifle on the other. For more information visit www.Walkersgameear.com