The Range Bag Essentials You'll Always Want To Take With You
There are a certain number of range bag essentials that you should always have with you when you go to do some shooting. Naturally it's a good idea to have a range bag that always contains these items, but if nothing else you should always bring these items no matter how you do it.
For instance, a good item to have for range work is a good paddle holster. A decent one makes the range so much easier.
We'll go over some of the things you should always take with you.
Guns and Ammunition
Most obviously, you're going to have to bring your guns and ammunition. These are probably the biggest among the range bag essentials; otherwise you're just standing around watching other people shoot and who really wants to do that?
As to ammunition, the range begs the question of what ammunition to use at the range?
One school of thought is to use the ammunition that you carry for practice. That way, you know exactly how that ammunition performs with your gun and so on.
On the other hand, carry ammunition can be fairly expensive, with some brands running almost double the cost for 50 rounds as hardball. Arguably, you can do a lot more shooting and be that much more competent with your gun by using a brand of hardball ammo that works well in your gun and doesn't cost too much.
Those in the latter camp will also proffer that every range session should include firing a few rounds of your carry ammo to get your eye in with it, so to speak. You get your practice in and you know how your carry ammo will run without breaking the bank - a good middle ground.
How much ammunition to bring...is up to you. Some people will shoot a box of 50, some people two, and some people spend a whole day at the range. It's all up to you.
Eye Protection and Hearing Protection
Make sure you have quality eye protection and hearing protection.
Gunshots produce sufficient noise to instantly damage hearing, even if used with a suppressor. Ear protection is something you just can't afford to not use, unless you like the idea of being deaf and/or wearing hearing aids.
Eye protection is the piece of safety gear that people think they can over look.
Gases, particulate matter, spent shells and so on can easily hit the shooter in the eyes, and a bit of burning matter - even as small as a few grains of sand - can give a person a burn. A burn on the eye is a ticket to the emergency room, and could easily damage a person's sight.
If you'd like to learn more about what kind of ear protection and eye protection to get, read more in the Alien Gear Guide To Gun Safety.
You will also want to bring a cleaning kit for your firearms. This does not necessarily have to be a full sized kit, as they make small cleaning kits that are usually geared towards a specific caliber or a small range of calibers. Just be sure that if you choose a small kit to also bring a solid cleaning rod.
If you would like to learn more about handgun maintenance take a look here: Cleaning and Maintaining Your Weapon
Truthfully, you can also get away with as little as a boresnake, a rag and some cleaning solution. That said, there is also something to be said for a full cleaning kit.
Experience one squib or stuck shell and you will quickly realize a cleaning rod can be worth its weight in gold. A decent cleaning kit can keep you from having to call it a day prematurely. The same can also be said for a good multi-tool.
Another good suggestion is to bring a few rags and some gun oil and/or gun lube. Depending on range conditions or which drills you are doing, even how many rounds you go through, your gun can get dirty and dry fast. Fortunately, this is a very easy fix if you have a clean rag and some oil with you.
You'll also want to have some shooting targets. Like packing your gun and ammunition, shooting targets are range bag essentials that are vital to the enterprise.
Granted, what kind of targets you want to use and how you mean to set them up depends on you and the range that you'll be at. Private ranges often enough have target backers that you merely need to affix a paper target to. Public ranges won't have anything like that; you'll have to pack in your gear.
How fancy you want to get is entirely your decision. A lot of people either buy or construct a cheap stand and attach a paper target to it. Others get a little fancier.
That said, if you really want to save some cash in this regard, check out Alien Gear's 8.5" x 11" printable shooting targets. Print as many as you like - for free!
First Aid Kit
On this note, the next thing to bring is a good first aid kit. While a standard first aid kit might suffice, I also bring an IFAK (Improved First Aid Kit) which is geared more towards gunshot wounds than little cuts and scrapes like a standard first aid kit. As previously stated, accidents do happen. There could be an accidental discharge, friendly fire, or even a gun blowout. Almost everyone has seen videos or pictures of what happens when a gun blows up.
Granted, a lot of people recommend a first aid kit as an EDC item for people who concealed carry and it's just a good item to have.
Another range essential is a good attitude. While this sounds cheesy, it needs to be discussed. There have been many people who have their days ruined by a stranger at the range with a bad attitude.
The shooting community is filled with some of the nicest, selfless, most polite and courteous people on the planet. But there are always downers and kill-joys out there. Make sure you are not one of them. A bad attitude is contagious so leave it at home. And if you happen to encounter one just give them some space, ignore them, and try to enjoy yourself.
Whether one goes to a private or public range, having a bad experience due to the poor behavior of others is just frustrating. We're all supposed to enjoy shooting in a fun, safe environment.
It also doesn't hurt to have a bit of hydration. Something to eat or drink isn't necessarily high on the list of range essentials, but is still a good thing to have around - especially during extended shooting sessions.
That said, take into account what type of shooting you're going to be doing. Typical target shooting isn't going to be too strenuous, so it's not exactly vital to have drinks or snacks around. However, if you're going to be doing three gun...you'll definitely want some fluids with you.
Also, if shooting during the heat of the day in summer can drain you pretty quick through sweat and so on and you'll want to stay hydrated in that case, and wear some sunscreen.
While a bit of water, perhaps some Gatorade, and a bit of trail mix aren't exactly the most vital of range essentials, they can be very good to have on hand.
Oh and pick up your brass. There are enough litterbugs out there already; don't be one of them.
What are your range essentials?
Let us know in the comments below.
About The Author
Being raised in Georgia, Troy has been around firearms for most of his life. From the moment he unwrapped that Red Rider BB gun on his seventh birthday, he was hooked. He is an active 2nd Amendment advocate, and will often go out of his way to educate and instruct any person interested in firearms. When he’s not writing or managing his pressure washing business, he can usually be found on the range or in the woods.