Having a great day at the range starts with having your range bag packed correctly! Items needed in your range bag may vary depending on if you are shooting at an indoor range vs an outdoor range. Here are the essential items and a checklist of additional items to get your started. Being as prepared and as comfortable as possible will minimize the unnecessary “favors” and avoid disturbing others on the range. There are certain items in this checklist that are an absolute necessity, while other items may just come in handy depending on your goals.
The first things first… you need a range bag, or two or three! Different bags meet different needs in size, compartments, and the number of guns it can hold. There are many excellent choices on the market, some of which are offered by our vendor partners. Here are some features to look for:
- Removable pistol pouch
- Can hold two handguns
- Allow for attaching pouches and accessories to the bag.
- Multiple internal pockets to keep smaller items organized
- Large center compartment for bulky items
Emergency Action Plan
I think it is safe to say that this is the number one thing people don’t think about putting in their range bag.
Personal Emergency Information
In case of an emergency of any kind, it is helpful if those around you can quickly identify you, any medical issues you have and what medications you are on. Print out our Emergency Info Sheet and seal it in an envelope, clearly labeling it so it can be found in your range bag easily. You can also turn one into 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. But if you are in a private range or range staff is not immediately available and you are the one that has to call, it is important to get it right!
- Provide 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
Two of 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 pair increases comfort and ensures that they fit properly for maximum safety benefits.
There is a wide variety of eye protection available that is functional and fashionable. Be sure what you choose meets OSHA standards, meaning that it is actual eye protection made shatterproof polycarbonate, and not just a pair of sunglasses. In addition to providing vital protection, shooting glasses can also improving one’s accuracy with certain lens tints. This 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.
You can chose from simple disposable ear plugs to custom molded; passive earmuffs to electronic noise-canceling earmuffs.No matter your preference, your range bag should always contain a pair or two 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
All firearms should be stored in a safe and secure manner. A typical method of storage is an empty magazine inserted in the gun with an empty chamber, in a case, pouch or holster. Some people prefer to not store magazines in the gun. Regardless any magazines that are pre-loaded should be stored and secured in a separate compartment.
When removing your guns 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 get on sale, no consistency in brand or grain weight. It is recommended that you find a load(s) that runs well in your gun 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
One target is usually provided complimentary with your range fee, but most shooters find they need more than one! It may be convenient for you to bring your own or enjoy a selection of targets to purchase at the range. In fact, certain customized versions like the AG & AG Target with different color patterns and designs are preferred by shooters wanting more than one focal point. In addition, a roll masking tape to patching target holes or taping up target overlays to get as much use o the targets as possible. A Sharpie or pen is helpful for marking up targets and taking notes if you are using a shooting journal and tracking your progress
- Shooting Journal
- Prepared Skills & Drills
- Snap Caps
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 make up. (never know when a touch-up is needed)
If you range bag does not have enough room to hold all of these range essentials and accessories, consider storing items in the trunk of your car for easy access.