Having a great day at the range starts with having your range bag packed correctly! The items you will need in your range bag may vary depending on if you are shooting at an indoor range or an outdoor range. Below are the essential items and a checklist of some additional items that you will need to get started. Being as prepared and as comfortable as possible will minimize the unnecessary “favors” and keep you from disturbing others on the range. Depending on your goals, there are certain items in this checklist that are an absolute necessity while others may simply come in handy.
First things first. You will need a range bag (or two or three) because no two range bags are alike. Different bags meet different needs and each will vary in size, number of compartments, and the number of firearms it can hold. When shopping for a bag there are many excellent choices on the market. Make sure to check out the bags that are offered by our vendor partners as you look for the bag that is right for you. Various features to look for and consider as you choose your bag are below.
- Removable pistol pouch with muzzle indicator
- Designed to hold one or two handguns
- May allow for pouches and accessories to be attached to the bag
- Has multiple internal pockets to keep smaller items organized
- Has a large center compartment for bulky items
Emergency Action Plan
I think it is probably safe to say that this is the number one thing people don’t think about putting in their range bag.
Keep a quality Trauma Kit in your range bag in case of emergency. Our AG & AG trauma kit was assembled in consultation with several tac-med experts and should be in every range bag. You can also keep a Boo-Boo Kit in your bag for minor scrapes and scratches that may happen on the range. According to the National Safety Council, about 25% of emergency room visits could be avoided if people had basic first-aid training and were properly equipped to handle emergencies.
Personal Emergency Information
In case of an emergency, it is helpful if those around you can quickly identify you, any medical issues you have and what medications you are taking. The best way to have this information readily available is to print out and complete our Emergency Info Sheet, seal it in an envelope, and clearly label it so it can easily be found in your range bag. You can also give a copy to your Chapter Facilitator.
Emergency at the Range
We have an expectation that public ranges have a protocol in place when calling for help for a medical emergency. If you find yourself in an emergency situation at a private range or if range staff is not immediately available and you are the one that has to make the call for help, it is important to know what information needs to be relayed to the dispatcher.
- Know the name and/or location of the range.
- Tell the dispatcher that there has been an accidental shooting during a training exercise. Be clear that it is not an active shooter situation. Police will assess the scene before allowing EMS to enter, so give them information upfront so that you do not delay the help that is desperately needed.
Eye & Ear Protection
Your eye and ear protection are the most important pieces of gear you can have in your bag. Many ranges will loan or rent eyes & ears to wear but don’t count on it. Having your own gear increases your comfort and ensures a proper fit for maximum safety benefit.
There is a wide variety of eye protection available that is both functional and fashionable so be sure what you choose meets OSHA standards. This means that the eye protection is made of shatterproof polycarbonate and isn’t just a pair of sunglasses. In addition to providing vital protection, shooting glasses can also improve one’s accuracy with certain lens tints. This is achieved by enhancing a shooter’s view of their target or sights in particular environments by increasing contrast or reducing blue light levels which cause haze.
Like eyewear, there is also a wide variety of ear protection available for your to choose from. This includes simple disposable ear plugs, custom molded plugs, passive earmuffs, and electronic noise-canceling muffs. No matter your preference, your range bag should always contain one or two pair of foam earplugs as backups. Some people prefer to double-up with plugs and muffs for maximum hearing protection. Click Here for more information on ear protection requirements and features.
Properly Stored Firearms
First and foremost, all firearms should always be stored in a safe and secure manner. A typical method of storage is an empty magazine inserted into the firearm with an empty chamber. The firearm should be stored in a case, pouch or holster. Some people prefer not to store their magazines in the firearm; regardless, any magazines that are pre-loaded should always be stored and secured in a separate compartment.
When removing your firearms from the range bag, you should be completely aware of the 4 rules of gun safety and keep inline with the rules of your range.
The ammo you bring should be dependable and reasonably priced. Many people will shoot whatever they can buy on sale with no consistency in brand or grain weight. It is recommended that you find a load or loads that run well in your firearm and consistently practice with it. Sandra Kozero, Chapter Facilitator in San Antonio shared a wonderful review on the Winchester Train and Defend line which is designed to provide a consistent experience between practice and self defense ammo. There is a difference between practice and self defense ammo, see our Ammunition Guide for some handy information.
Targets, Masking Tape, Pen
A complimentary target is usually included with your range fee; however, most shooters find that they need additional targets. It may be most convenient for you to bring your target(s) from home; however, if that is not the case, you can usually choose from a wide variety of targets that the range has available for purchase. In fact, certain customized target versions, like the AG & AG Target which has different color patterns and designs, are preferred by shooters wanting more than one focal point. In addition, having a roll of masking tape available to patch the holes on your target after you shoot will prolong the life of the target. A Sharpie or pen is helpful to have for marking on targets and taking notes if you are using a shooting journal and tracking your progress
- Shooting Journal
- Prepared Skills & Drills
- Snap Caps aka Dummy Rounds
Tools & Supplies
- Chamber Flags (usually required at organized events)
- Gun mat or towel
- Mini Cleaning Kit
- First Aid Kit and Pain Reliever
- Hand Sanitizer and/or Lead Off Wipes
Items Suggested When Using Outdoor Ranges
- Stapler and staples
- Bug spray and/or suntan lotion
- Lip balm
- Appropriate weather clothing and shoes (including rain gear)
Stuff Girls Need Just In Case
- Nail file or clippers
- Personal hygiene items
- Hair brush and makeup (you never know when a touch-up will be needed)
If your range bag does not have enough room to hold all of these range essentials and accessories, you might consider storing items in the trunk of your car for easy access.
Hopefully I have provided you with the knowledge you need to successfully pack your range bag for your next outing. Be prepared, stay safe, and have fun.