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Whether you are a casual target shooter, a hopeful competitive shooter, or an armed professional who likes to hit the range for practice time, having a well-organized range bag stocked with the right items makes your trips to the range more efficient, allowing you to focus your time on getting rounds down range.
Nobody likes to make the trip to their gun club and have to haul loads of kit in various bags and pockets, or make several trips back to their car (or home!) to retrieve some forgotten item. An organized range bag holds everything you need at the firing line, saving you trips and time.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Range bag
The obvious first item is the bag that holds every thing you need. You might be reluctant to save money and grab any bag or backpack you might have that is lying around the house. Don’t. A specially designed range bag has room for all the equipment you need, gives you a small work space for disassembly, loading, cleaning, etc. and reduces the chance of parts going missing or being forgotten.
There are several options on the market available from gun stores or tactical products dealers, at all price points and to suit all needs. Handgun shooters might need a bag that holds a few pistol magazines or speedloaders, as well as a lockable pistol case, and their cleaning kit and other items. Rifle and shotgun shooters might need space for optics or accessories. Law enforcement shooters might want a bag that holds their other police equipment for their duty belt.
Some important features regardless of the size and use of the bag would be: a rigid bottom for support, tough fabric construction like cordura/nylon, an assortment of large and small pockets or a utility area with a customizable divider/insert, and a comfortable shoulder strap and carrying handles to give you options on how to carry it with you.
Beyond that, it is really a matter of what you need and what you are planning to carry in it. But here are some features to look for: Does it have webbing or Velcro® to add accessory pouches? Does it have room for the bulky items, like hearing and eye protection? Does it have a way of identifying the owner, such as an ID or business card window or hook-and-loop panel?
One option would be something like the Voodoo Tactical Standard Scorpion Range Bag, available from OpticsPlanet.
Another option could be the very high-end Vertx A Range Back Range Bag, Black VTX5025BK $199.95 (USD), developed with input from professional firearms instructors and featuring “garage-deck” pull out compartments.
2. Hearing Protection
Casual shooters will not want to spend too much in this area, as almost any hearing protection will do the job.
But for those who are on the range often, or who need to be able to communicate effectively or listen for range commands during competitions or qualifications will appreciate electronic hearing protection, which reduces the louder gun shot sounds but amplifies lower decibel sounds such as voices.
While quality electronic hearing protection used to be very pricey, decent quality sets can now be had under $40, such as these OPMOD Rifleman Tactical ear muffs (see picture) … just remember to pack extra batteries!
3. Eye Protection
Another critical shooting accessory is proper ballistic eye protection. Shooting glasses come in all ranges of styles and prices, but the one critical feature for all of them is either CSA or ANSI certification, so that you can rely on them to protect your eyes from errant flying debris. Another consideration is whether you will mostly shoot indoors or outdoors, as some coloured tints are better than others depending on where you will be shooting.
Luckily, even good quality eye protection can be had at a very reasonable price. One of our favourites are the OPMOD ZRG+ shooting glasses, again from OpticsPlanet.
You need a multitool. Period.
Forget the “tacticool” knife or lugging around a garage chest full of tools and associated bits. Most firearms can be disassembled with no tools at all, but when you do need one, a multitool is the place to go.
Besides, with your folding pocket knife, do you want to risk damaging the blade using it as a screwdriver? Didn’t think so.
There are lots of available products, but most people generally fall into the “Gerber” or “Leatherman” camp. These are the two most trusted names in multitool quality. For our money, we prefer the Gerber Center-Drive Plus.
Multitools typically have uses beyond minor firearm maintenance as well. Adjusting or fixing other accessories or attachments, opening boxes and containers, pulling errant and stubborn staples stuck in wood (or a misplaced finger) … the possibilities are limitless.
5. Cleaning Kit
Don’t forget a small, compact cleaning kit.
While it’s fine keeping your main kit and accessories at home, invariably minor range maintenance will require having a small, portable kit in your range bag.
Something versatile, that handles all of the calibres you are using, is ideal. This BOOSTEADY Gun Cleaning Kit comes in a zippered case, with flexible pull-through coated cables, and nine different bristle cleaning brushes. As a bonus, it ships in one day with Amazon Prime.
Even just running through the barrel and removing the fouling from the chamber area will go a long way to preserving your firearm until you get the chance for a more thorough cleaning job.
6. Other Essentials
Some other things you should give serious thought to always packing:
- Staple gun, for fixing targets to target holders.
- Trauma dressing – a full first aid kit might be out of reach when seconds count and you need to stop arterial bleeding fast. Shooting is a safe activity, but accidents can happen – be prepared.
- Spotting scope – for any signficant distances, a spotting scope is a must have tool used for sighting in and practice.
- A ruler – for measuring shot groupings.
- Markers – for marking targets
- Targets – A variety of targets can be helpful, and you should purchase them ahead of time – don’t rely on blank targets always being available at the range.