Well, not while you're pregnant, unless you're law enforcement and need to complete your qualifying exam.
I was talking to a friend recently about going to the shooting range - we were going to go early on a Saturday morning, but the range didn't open early enough. She asked if shooting while pregnant was safe. I didn't know, but I didn't feel the lead exposure would be that severe to create an issue if I took preventative measures. However, I decided to search the wonderful internet for more information.
Thank you, Google, for bringing it to my attention that not only is lead a concern, but so is NOISE. Of course, I wear hearing protection, but the baby does not. The baby can respond to noise as early as 16 weeks; the ears are structurally complete at 24 weeks. Since I have had ear troubles as a kid (not as a result of my mom going to a shooting range), there's no way I would want to take this risk while pregnant. My mom also had similar ear troubles, so who knows if my inner ear troubles were genetic or a development/growth issue. There's no way I would want to increase the possibility of my child having hearing issues, not when I can prevent it!
So this is what I found out:
- Use lead free ammo
- Shoot outdoors
- Wear a respirator
- Minimize the number of rounds you shoot
- Don't eat or drink 1 hour after shooting
- Use a silencer when possible
- Wear heavy clothing or soft body armor covering the abdomen
- Wash hands
There's a study I was reading that observed lambs to test the noise factor, and what they found was the fetus was not significantly protected against loud noises. Additional studies found that there was hearing loss in babies.
This forum actually has a similar summary (actually longer), with references that authors used related to the studies conducted. Shotgun World
So as far as stress relief goes - I guess I'll stick with working out. Playing tennis in the warm sunshine helps a lot, and I can find suitable substitutes as necessary. I was definitely looking forward to a shooting range trip after I finish my PE Exam in early April, but I guess I'll just stick with making truffles for my sister's wedding!