Good Day Sunshine!
Posted on 22 June 2018
Let’s face it, breaking clays is a warm weather sport. And, if you live in the South like I do, when I say “warm,” I mean very HOT!! As a result, we spend a lot of time in the scorching sun pursuing those little clay targets wherever they may fly! However, I think most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not into winter sports and I certainly don’t much care for shooting in the rain! Of course, all that “fun in the sun” has its downside, too. I’m talking about overexposure to the suns’ harmful rays.
With so much information available today, most folks know how important it is to minimize exposure to the sun. However, as a quick primer, let’s review what the issue is. Basically, when we are out in the sun, we are not only exposed to the visible light spectrum but also the Ultraviolet (UV) radiation that has wavelengths shorter than visible light and cannot be seen by the naked eye. These wavelengths are classified as UVA, UVB and UVC. Most UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not reach the earth. The UVA and UVB rays are what we must worry about and are related to conditions such as premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts), and skin cancers.
I hate to go there, but here are some scary facts:
- More than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer were treated in over 3.3 million people in the U.S. in 2012, the most recent year new statistics were available.
- More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- Actinic keratosis is the most common precancer; it affects more than 58 million Americans.
- The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion: about $4.8 billion for nonmelanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma.
Bummer, huh? All is not lost; the trick is to take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves while we’re out on a nice sunny day indulging in our favorite pass time – breaking clays! The first line of defense is clothing – the more the better. Meaning, the more skin you can cover up the better off you are. As far as fabric goes, any fabric will provide some protection vs. just bare skin. That said, it’s best if you wear garments that have a tested UPF rating. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and is expressed numerically, e.g., UPF40. What does the number mean? Simply stated, if a garment is rated at UPF40, it means that for 40 units of UV radiation exposed to the garment, one unit will pass through; or 1/40th of the UV radiation will reach the skin. Therefore, the higher the number the better.
Now, the information that I’ve presented today should not come as a surprise to anyone. It’s just that many of us sometimes forget to take sun protection seriously (I’m certainly in that group). Therefore, I just want to remind everyone that given how much time we spend in the sun, we all need to look at what how well we protect ourselves every time we go out shooting. After all, we love this sport and we want to keep doing it!
I also need to mention that virtually all the info presented here can be found in much greater detail on the Skin Cancer Foundation website (and presented better than I’ll ever be able to!) I urge all of you to take a moment and visit https://www.skincancer.org to learn more about keeping yourself safe when you are out looking for that next X!