by: Sheila Rockwell
New shooters are often puzzled by what they may need for a day spent shooting on the range. The worst feeling is to need something and to not have it! It doesn’t take long or a whole lot of cash to put together a stocked range bag, and once you pack it and know where everything goes inside your bag, your subsequent trips to the range are a piece of cake, as most likely you will only need to replenish your ammo. Here are a few items that you should always keep on hand in order to make your trip to the range fun and productive.
First, you need a good quality range bag. Range bags are an easy way to express your own style and creativity, and they come in a multitude of sizes, colors, designs, and styles. I like to use a tactical backpack like the 5.11 Rush Series. They provide plenty of room and storage options, and have molle webbing so you can attach different packs to expand storage, if necessary. It’s sturdy, too. I personally like to carry a backpack rather than a handled bag, because my gear can get heavy! Inside your bag, I recommend having the following items at all times:
Eye and Ear Protection: Unless you want to rent some from the range, you won’t be able to shoot without these! Like anything else, you can spend a little or a whole lot on these items. I like anti-fog glasses, and I buy cheap ones, that way if I lose them or they get scratched up, I’m not freaking out about them. They are sold at virtually any sporting goods or big box store. I like clear ones for indoor ranges, and tinted for outdoor ranges. I spend a bit more on my hearing pro. I prefer electronic ears, like the Peltor Tactical Sport (about $100) or the Howard Leight Impact Sport.(about $60) They provide excellent protection for the loud gunshots, but amplify ambient noise so you can easily hear range commands and other shooters.If I am shooting rifle or on the range for an extended time, I will often “ double up” on my ear pro, using cheap foam plugs as well as my electronic ears.
Soft protective pistol case: An absolute essential. These run about $10, can be purchased at any sporting goods store, and keep your gun protected while in transport. They come in a variety of colors, sizes, and designs. There’s a lady at my gun club who has her initials monogrammed on hers!
Extra Ammo: Let’s face it—you can never have enough! I use Freedom Munitions New and their Reman ammo. It’s fairly priced, they have a great selection, you can order online and have it delivered to your doorstep, and most importantly, it’s reliable. If you sign up for their emails, they have daily deals and often run web specials. Your first order ships for free, too. What’s not to love?
Multitool: There will undeniably come a time where you will need to have a multitool either for yourself or a friend while on the range. Leatherman makes a nice, compact multitool to assist in any number of applications. They run about $150. Of course, there are multiple other brands and prices, too.
Gun Lubricant: The market is absolutely saturated with product and choices. Everyone seems tohave a favorite. The point is, you need to have your weapon well-lubricated in order for it to function properly. My personal preference here is Cherry Balmz. Their Ma Deuce has never let me down, comes inan easy-to apply bottle, and it smells pretty good, too. A little goes a long way, so for about $17, you can keep your pistol running smoothly for a long time.
Extra Magazines: You don’t want your day ruined by feeding issues or bad springs. Keep an extra mag or two handy!
First Aid Kit: Expect the Unexpected, and be prepared. Accidents happen. You should have a basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, aspirin, Tylenol, Benadryl, bug bite ointment, and antibacterial ointment for minor scratches, as well as supplemental items like sterile eye wash, eye pads, QuickClot pads and gauze, a chest seal, and a tourniquet. Shears, sterile gloves, and iodine are essentials, too, as well as an elastic bandage. You can buy these kits pre made or build your own.
Pocketknife: Even when not on the range, I always have one on me! My favorite brand of pocketknife is Spyderco, but again, there are literally hundreds from which to choose. Go find one that you like, but be careful—knives are almost as addictive as guns, and once you start buying them, it is easy to find another, cooler one that you must have, too!
Rag: I keep a clean microfiber rag in my bag at all times. There are dozens of uses!
Pen/Paper/Markers: for marking targets, doing calculations, & taking notes. Masking tape: for taping targets, etc. Staple Gun: for hanging targets.
Targets: most ranges will sell them, but you should have a few just in case.
Protective Pad for gun: You don’t want to scratch up your “ baby” by laying it carelessly on the bench. A small pad is lightweight, and it comes in handy.
Now that you’re all packed and prepared, you can head to the range confident that you will have what you need! Most importantly, remember your safety rules and range commands. Now, go have some fun!