January 20, 2022

What to Put in Your Range Bag: The Essentials


No piece of gear is quite as important during a day at the range as the range bag. Having a range bag packed with the right items can mean the difference between having a successful range day or a wasted trip.

The composition of a range bag can vary widely depending on the shooter and what they intend to accomplish on the range. For example, a long-range shooter may want to include more specialty gear pertaining to distance rifle shooting than would a competitive pistol shooter with a Springfield Armory 1911.

Gear for the shooting range
Having the proper equipment with you means a more successful day at the range. The author helps ID what gear is essential.

The basis of a good balanced all-purpose range bag is to include items that shooters may need in a variety of situations, regardless of what kind of shooting they plan to do that day. Of course, tailoring your gear to your firearms also makes sense – for example, bringing extra magazines and a loader for your Springfield XD when you are working with it.

Here are a few essentials that can be incorporated into any range bag that are sure to enhance your trip to the range.

Safety and Medical Supplies

These are some of the most important items to include in your range bag. Ear and eye protection are indispensable accessories on the range. Having proper eye and ear protection will allow you to look out for your safety and the safety of those around you. If you fire without eye protection you run the risk of debris or shell casings hitting your eye and causing a potentially dangerous situation, not just for you but for others on the range. It is recommended that you pack extra ear and eye protection, should someone you’re shooting with ever forget to bring their own. Just don’t forget to ask for it back when the shooting is done!

Man putting on eye protection for shooting
The arms on Walker’s eye protection are thin enough to sit comfortably under your ear protection.

A solid pair of purpose-built shooting safety glasses are the best bet for eye protection. Walker’s makes eye protection specifically geared towards shooting with extra thought given to customization. The Walker’s Interchangeable Sport Glasses Kit is a great choice for shooters who want durable eye protection with good clarity.

The kit comes with several different lenses, which can come in handy in various conditions. The included lenses help when shooting in overly bright or low light conditions, depending on which lens the shooter makes use of. Walker’s eye protection is also very reasonably priced, which makes it easy to keep a few pairs on hand in case someone you’re shooting with didn’t bring any eye protection of their own.

Medical kit for range
From massive bleeding to boo-boos, you should have a first aid kit in your range gear to handle medical problems that may arise.

If you fire without ear protection, you’ll likely not be able to hear range commands or other shooters speaking to you, not to mention the permanent damage that will be done to your ears. Unfortunately, wearing standard earmuffs or plugs can also make it difficult to hear others on the range. For this reason, I prefer the use of the 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 500s.

These sleek electronic earmuffs allow the shooter to hear everything that is safe to hear with perfect clarity and nothing that is not. Voices, including that of the wearer, are amplified while potentially ear damaging loud noises cause the headset to mute. This is accomplished by built-in dynamic suppression time. This means that the headset determines how long to cut audio off based on the volume of the shot and noise in the surrounding area. They make use of advanced voice-tracking technology that searches for voices through the background noise and prioritizes their volume.

The headset also features Bluetooth capability should you want to transfer audio from your phone into the headset. There are even controls on the headset to allow for answering and hanging up calls using the ear protection itself should the need arise.

CAT tourniquet
Carrying and practicing the use of a quality tourniquet is essential to saving lives.

The Tactical 500s run on 2 AA batteries and feature a handy auto shut off feature. Keeping them running is extremely convenient as the batteries are commonly used for a variety of household appliances and are easy to find without a trip to a battery store for specialty batteries. Overall, a set of quality hearing protection is imperative to a good range trip, and the feature filled Tactical 500s provide plenty of protection while being surprisingly comfortable.

Shooters should always include medical supplies in their range bag regardless of what kind of shooting they are doing. Antiseptic wipes, Quickclot gauze/bandages, a tourniquet, and Band-Aids for keeping minor cuts on the hands clean and protected while shooting and operating firearms are all a good start. The antiseptic wipes will decrease the likelihood of infection. The tourniquet will help to stop bleeding from a limb in the event of a serious and life-threatening wound. Quickclot gauze and bandages with applied pressure will help to control bleeding as well and can be an incredibly valuable tool for a variety of medical emergencies.

Targets

Having the gear you need to post a target can save you from having to improvise on the range. Having targets and several mounting solutions is advised. A reliable stapler will be the most helpful tool for pinning targets. The Birchwood Casey Target Stapler is great for posting paper and cardboard targets alike onto a variety of surfaces.

Target stapler
If you’ve spent very much time in shooting classes, you know how valuable a target stapler can be.

Just in case you find yourself at a range that is not conducive to stapling targets, I like to include clothes pins and tacks in my range bag as well. Unfortunately, If I had a penny for every time the range stapler went missing at my local range, I’d be a wealthy man.

Range target
Shooting targets come in a range of sizes and styles. These help you visualize vital areas for self-defense training.

As for the targets themselves, I like to include at least a few in my range bag even if I’m planning on shooting cardboard or steel targets. Paper targets are great for various shooting applications. I personally keep Birchwood Casey Paper IPSC style targets in my range bag as I find they are great for everything from close-range pistol shooting to rifle shooting at 100 yards and beyond.

Tools

Firearms, optics and accessories require a wide array of different tools for adjustments and maintenance. Carrying a few basic tools in your range bag is a great way to be prepared for most of the situations you might encounter on the range.

Real Avid AR15 Gunboss Pro multi-tool
A multi-tool can help in a wide variety of situations when at the range. A quick fix can prevent wasted range time.

First and foremost, a good multi-tool will save you a lot of space in the range bag and the hassle of digging around a stuffed compartment. I keep the Real Avid Gun Tool Max in an easily reached compartment on the side of my range bag. The Gun Tool Max provides me with everything from pliers and choke wrenches to precise disassembly and cleaning implements. It’s a well-built gadget I don’t leave for the range without.

Range gear next to a range bag
Shooters can customize their range bag to fit their shooting needs. A shooter that mostly fires rifles may pack a cleaning kit and multi-tool made for their gun.

If I should find myself needing to do a more intensive cleaning of a gun on the range, I always have a Real Avid Gunboss Pro Cleaning kit packed. This is a basic multicaliber cleaning kit with durable components and a relatively slim storage case that keeps everything organized. Depending on what you are going to shoot, you may opt for a more specific cleaning kit such as those made specifically for AR-pattern rifles like the Springfield SAINT Victor.

Range Bags

Lastly, you must have a solid range bag in order to carry all of this gear and gadgetry. Range bags come in a multitude of formats. Since I do quite a bit of pistol shooting, I personally like something with extra storage space for handguns.

G.P.S. Handgunnner Bag for the range
The author found the G.P.S. Handgunnner Bag to be an excellent range bag with lots of storage and organizational space.

I highly recommend G.P.S. range bags. My particular bag, the Handgunner Backpack, has plenty of room for all of my general-purpose gear, plus space for four handguns to be stored safely in their own “gun rack.” It also has pouches for extra magazines on both sides. All of the bag’s compartments are marked for easy organization.

The bag has a pull-over rain cover inside that is great for keeping your targets and other equipment from being drenched in a downpour. No matter what kind of range bag you decide on, filling it with the supplies mentioned above will ensure you’re not caught unprepared on the range.

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