Range Gear 101: 7 Must Haves for a Great Range Trip
What’s worse than not getting to the range in a long time? Getting there and finding out you left something important back home. Having your gear organized and in one range bag can take the guess work out of trying to pack for every trip. We’ve broken down the essential range gear you’ll need to make your next range day go efficiently and safely.
First, let’s start with some basics. You’re going to need a quality range bag or backpack to store your gear. A great range bag will be hauling a decent amount of weight both in and out of the range, so it needs to be durable. It’s also likely to store your normal range gear between trips.
Range bags with a lot of pockets, MOLLE straps or other attachment points, and zippered compartments will help you stay organized, and an organized trip to the range will give you more time to shoot. You pay to be on the range, so make it worth your time and money.
Range bags are generally big enough to fit at least a pistol or two, along with all your other gear. But if the plan is to shoot more than what your range bag can carry, or if you’re shooting rifles or shotguns, you’ll need a separate carrying case. Good cases are not only durable, they’re protective. Depending on the lining, you can make sure your rifle or shotgun is protected from the dings and scratches that firearms sometimes get being loaded, unloaded, and trekked out to the range.
This is second on the list for a reason. Never, ever underestimate the importance of protecting your hearing. If you’ve got a limited budget, buying the best ear protection you can afford should be on the top of your list. Once you’re hearing is damaged, there’s no going back. To get the right protection, your ear pro must fit your head right.
Find earmuffs that fit properly. They need to seal around your ears to work. Ladies, leave the earrings at home. No one will be able to see them anyway, and they have an annoying habit of preventing your ear protection from fitting properly. Electronic muffs work great because they allow you to hear what’s going on around you, and you can find them at really good price points. Passive muffs work well too when they fit properly. Make sure you check the decibel rating to ensure they’re protective enough to be effective.
Just like your ears, you need to protect those eyes while at the range. Getting hit with hot brass in or around your eye will cause damage. Damage that might be unrepairable. Great eye protection doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but you do need to make sure they’re safety certified. Depending on where you’ll be shooting, you may want to select a different color lens. They vary from yellow and red to clear or dark tint, depending on if you’ll be shooting outdoors, indoors, or at low light. Kits are available with interchangeable lenses. That way you’re prepared for anything.
A solid knife or multi-tool is invaluable in a range bag. Whether it’s for adjusting sights, installing an accessory, tightening a loose screw, or clearing a jam, there’s an endless list of reasons to have one. A multi-tool, in particular, is nice because it combines the handiest of tools into one small package: pliers, screwdrivers, and a knife are just some of the tools a multi-tool can add to your bag while leaving plenty of room for more ammo.
You want to be able to see where you’re hitting, right? If you’re working at self-defense distances, chances are you’ll be able to spot your groupings with the naked eye. Anything else and you’re going to want to invest in a spotting scope or binoculars, especially if you’re doing any type of long-range shooting. In fact, I always keep a compact set of binoculars in my bag, but for range days, a spotting scope is a breeze to set up on a target and will allow almost instant feedback of where your last shot hit.
You’re going to the range. You need something to shoot at, right? You can often buy targets at the range, but that comes at a premium price. Bringing some purpose-built targets make range days more fun and can save you some cash. Reactive targets are especially fun and help you instantly see where you shot. Make sure you have different styles of targets in your range bag to keep your day at the range enjoyable.
My range is an outdoor range. It’s located near wetlands and the mosquitos are the size of airplanes. I don’t want to spend my range time swatting at bugs, so I always keep a small bottle of bug spray included with my gear. Thermacell repellers work great as well if you’re planning on spending a couple of hours at the range. Keeping the bugs away will make for a much more enjoyable day at the range.
Some of the other gear I’m rarely caught without includes:
A stapler for hanging targets faster
A good first aid kit including a tourniquet
Gun oil and cleaning kit
A bore snake for whatever caliber I’m shooting
Magazine loader to make loading mags easier
Microfiber towel for wiping my guns down after shooting.
The list of the gear that you could keep in your range bag is only limited by the size of the bag itself. A well-organized range bag with the right gear will allow you to efficiently grab what you need when you need it. That will save more time for shooting, and that’s the real reason you packed your range bag, right?