Range Bag Essentials and Checklist: How to Pack Before Trip and Make Your Day
After doing a lot of research you have finally decided to purchase that range bag. As any shooter will tell you, the type of bag you carry makes a huge difference when it comes to comfort and convenience when you’re in the range or hunting.
A range bag is only as good as the stuff you put in there though. Sure you’ve got your gun and ammo, but what else do you need? If you want to get the most out of your shooting in the range – and your time – make sure you’ve got the right stuff in your range bag.
Table of Contents
- What to Pack in Your Carry-On Range Bag?
- List of Gears I Should Have in my Range Bag!
- List of Cleaning Tools Equipment Supplies and Materials
- Items Suggested When Using Outdoor Ranges
What to Pack in Your Carry-On Range Bag?
The following is a list of items and accessories you may want to bring to the range. Depending on the size of your bag you may or may not be able to fit all these in. If there isn’t enough space just make a list of the essential items and leave the rest in another bag.
There are no specific product recommendations here, but by listing the items at least you’ll know what to look for the next time you’re shopping for gun accessories and essentials online.
List of Gears I Should Have in my Range Bag!
Sunglasses are not enough to protect your eyes when in the shooting range. You need to wear wraparound safety goggles that have been designed for guns. There probably isn’t a legit shooting range in the US that will let you shoot without safety goggles. These ranges rent or sell safety glasses but it’s better – and cheaper – to buy your own.
When shopping for safety glasses, look for a pair that meets minimum safety standards. The glasses must not impede your vision either. Your eye protection must also be comfortable so you can focus on the target.
Ear protection comes in several forms such as foam ear pads, passive earplugs, in earplugs, over the head ear protection and electronic ear protection.
Some earplugs are simple and others are fancy, but they all have the same goal, reduce or completely cancel the loud noise.
Always bring at least a couple of ear protection devices in case the pair you’re using malfunctions. There is no shortage of earplugs online so you just need to find a pair you’re comfortable with.
Some of the better ear protection devices reduce the loud noise and accentuate the quiet sounds.
For Safety, a Firearm Should Be Stored
No matter how careful you are, it’s essential that you have a holster or handgun case. Make certain your gun case is durable, has a good locking mechanism and fits your gun.
For extra protection, it’s a good idea to buy a gun safe for your home so only those with authorization can access it.
A portable gun safe is also something you may want to consider. These safes have unique security features such as fingerprints so only you can open it. As for a gun safe or gun vault, make sure that it’s got the capacity to match your collection.
If you can lock the pistol compartment pocket in your range bag, there’s no need to buy a case. But if there’s no lock or you’re looking for additional protection then you’ll need a case just to be sure.
A few more safety tips:
- Always handle your gun like it’s loaded
- Always dry fire with dummy rounds
- Do not load your gun until you’re ready to use it
- Point the gun at the target, squeeze and try not to flinch
- Read the shooting range safety guidelines before you fire a few rounds
Knowing how to safely store your gun is only half of it. You must also store ammo properly to avoid accidents and prolong its life. Some tips to keep in mind:
- Follow any storage instructions indicated in the package
- Do not use on guns they’re not designed for
- Keep all your ammo in a clearly marked storage box
- Keep your live rounds, dummy rounds and practice rounds separately
Humidity control is also important for ammo. Avoid excess moisture because it interacts with primer and brass casings, causing corrosion. Ensure you store ammo in a place where humidity is low. If you can store your ammo in an airtight container that’s even better.
If you’re going to store ammunition in an ammo can, make certain there is no moisture in the can before you close it. If you’re going to store ammo for the long term, consider using desiccant packets and a dehumidifier so the ammo is in good condition.
Label your ammo so you’ll be able to use the oldest ones first. And if you’re a new shooter there’s no need to buy a ton of ammo anyway as you’ll want to focus on your aim.
Safety Protection Kit
Earlier I mentioned the importance of having ear and eye protection. You can purchase these separately, but you can also buy an all in one safety protection kit or bundle.
These products come in different variants, but the set should include at least a pair of eye/ear protection. Some kits come with multiple pairs but they will cost a bit more.
Gun safety protection kits vary in quality, which is why some prefer to buy the ear and eye protection pieces separately.
If you do opt to buy a bundle, look for a quality brand so you will know what you’re getting. A good warranty and customer support are also essential.
As for the specific features, make certain the ear muffs are adjustable and have a decent noise reduction capability. Noise reduction is measured in dB, with a 25 dB considered pretty good.
For the safety glasses they must be made of durable materials, and the lenses must provide protection without affecting your visibility. The degree of visibility you get will depend on the design though, hence the need for a quality brand. No matter what you choose, make sure to test them before going to the range.
Basic First Aid Kit
Is having a first aid kit in the shooting range overkill? No, in fact, you should always have one if not in your range bag at least in your car.
One more thing: this might be stating the obvious but you should learn how to use the kit before you go into the range.
You can buy a first aid kit easily but it might not have the items you need, or it may contain stuff you don’t. If you’re putting the kit together on your own, here is a checklist:
- Lip balm
- Blood clotting pad
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antibacterial ointment
- Blister ointment
- First aid manual
- Wound coverings
- Splints and wraps
The medication you should bring depends on your particular needs. Most first aid kits come with medical adhesive tape and nonstick sterile pads. You may also bring some safety pins as well.
Bring insect relief treatment if you’re at an outdoor range. You’ll also want to bring antihistamine in case your allergies get triggered. Just to be on the safe side you should also carry thermostatic gauze to stop any bleeding.
Will any kind of gloves do? In theory, you can wear any but it’s better if you get a pair of gloves that are designed for gun use. These gloves are different from the rest because they’re more flexible and have better articulation.
If you’re buying for shooters’ gloves look up the material first. The best ones are made of leather – even if it’s just the palm and finger parts – and are breathable.
Quality stitching is a must as the material will be subjected to lots of pressure. If you’ve been using gloves for a long time you can tell a quality pair from a poor one.
Give yourself time to get used to gloves especially if you’ve never worn them before. Give yourself time to get used to it. The feel of the trigger is different when you’re wearing gloves. Some prefer open gloves while others like them closed. It’s really up to you.
There are different types of shooters’ gloves, some for pistols and others for long firearms. Pistol gloves don’t need a lot of padding and you don’t want them too thick as it’ll make shooting difficult. Your pistol gloves should also make it easy to control the gun, period.
A brass catcher is used to catch cartridge casings as they’re released from your gun. You can choose from various designs like boxes, nets, pouches or bags. You can opt for a universal brass catcher or one that’s designed specifically for your gun. Brass catchers are set on a gun’s side or directly connected to it.
If you’ve got several firearms, get a brass catcher that you can mount on a Picatinny or flat top. The better brass catchers work with LR-308/AR models and also work with reloaded.
You may also prefer a brass catcher with several detent locking spots to accommodate different types of guns.
An effective brass catcher is easy to adjust and mounts quickly on all popular firearms. You’ll find this very useful if you shoot a lot of rounds and don’t want any to land on you.
If you’re looking for versatility then it’s best to go with a brass catcher that allows for multiple configurations. Finally, you should look for brass catchers that are easy to install.
A spotting scope is often used for bird watching, surveillance and hunting. This also makes it a potent tool for verifying your shots from 25 yards or further out.
Whether you’re at an indoor or outdoor shooting range you’ll find this handy for keeping track of your target.
Lots of spotting scopes are available so you do not go to lack for choices. Just like other scopes, you’ll want to focus on magnification – 20x to 60x is the usual range – and the objective lens diameter. The objective lens diameter determines the resolution and light gathering capability of the scope.
If you have never used a spotting scope before, get one that’s built for heavy-duty use. Waterproofing is essential if you go to outdoor ranges as there’s no telling when it might rain. You really shouldn’t be shooting rounds in the rain but in case there’s a sudden downpour your spotting scope will hold up.
Make it a point to check the other product specs. Aside from the magnification, you’ll also want to assess the field of view (FOV), eye relief, fog proofing and lens coating. These specs become even more important if you’ll use the scope for hunting.
List of Cleaning Tools Equipment Supplies and Materials
No lengthy explanation needed here. If you’re going to be in the range for several hours, better bring a bottle of water and some snacks. You can bring chips or any kind of food you like, just make sure not to leave crumbs all over the place. Energy bars are popular among shooters as they’re healthy, delicious and easy to carry around.
Chamber flags are usually required at organized events and some shooting competitions and these devices are used to indicate the status of your gun. You use a chamber flag, for instance, to let the others know your gun isn’t ready to use or that it is not ready to be discharged. Not all ranges require chamber flags but others do so check the rules.
Gun Mat or Towel
You’ll need a towel at the very least to clean your gun but you’re probably better off with a real gun cleaning mat. These are waterproof and made from thick materials to protect your gun and the surface you’re cleaning it on. Many of these cleaning mats are waterproof, oil resistant and resistant to fading.
Multi-Tool and Screwdriver Sets
Even the best-kept gun can break down anytime so it’s best to have a toolkit ready. You don’t need to bring your entire toolbox, only the most essential.
- Screwdriver: different screwdriver heads and sizes
- Multi-tool: an all-purpose tool will come in handy in case you need to tweak your gun, spotting scope or any of the accessories.
- Sharpening stone
- Duct tape
- Measuring tape
- Electronic caliper
- Staple gun
- Notebook or app for taking notes
A hammer and some nails may come in handy if you’re shooting for an extended period. If you’re bringing a notebook to make sure it’s all weather.
A squib load means there’s not enough power to fire the bullet out of your gun’s barrel. The squib can be stuck anywhere from muzzle end to the chamber. Firing another round can damage the gun or cause an accident. The safest way to dislodge this bullet is to use a squid rod so you should have one.
Disposable wipes may be part of your cleaning kit or you can buy it separately. Either way, you should have a few of these at your disposal.
Mini Cleaning Kit
A mini cleaning kit is like a first aid kit: it comes in different types and you can buy an all in one or buy each component separately. The items to look for depending on the guns you own, but a few considerations here.
- Versatile cleaning kits can handle shotguns, pistols and rifles of varying calibers
- Some bronze bore finishes are firearm specific
- A microfiber lens cloth is necessary
- A cleaning rod is a must
- Adapter for threading mops, jigs and brushes
- Solvent, lubricant, patches towels are needed
- A compact cleaning kit is preferable if you do a lot of on-field cleaning
Cleaning kits for pistols and shotguns differ. Those for long firearms have more pieces so choose the appropriate cleaning kit.
If you don’t have a pain reliever in your first aid kit, you should. You’ll never know when a headache or other body aches will show up so it’s best to be prepared.
Hand Sanitizer and/or Lead Off Wipes
You won’t just handle your gun and ammo, but also gun oil, solvent and other stuff. Keep your hands clean with a hand sanitizer and wipes. Sanitize your hands after cleaning your gun, careful to remove any oil or liquid that got on to you.
Flashlight and Batteries
It might seem overkill to bring a flashlight and batteries in your range bag. If you only spend a couple of hours in the range during the day, there’s no need for these. But what if it’s night? Or what if you’re joining a shooting competition that spans several days?
In those cases, it’s better to have a flashlight. Compact flashlights are available so they’re not going to occupy a lot of space. And if you’ve got a smartphone or tablet it’s probably got a flashlight built in or you can download a flashlight app free.
A pocket knife has many uses so don’t go to the range without one. From cutting tape to emergency situations, it’s best to have one of these in your range bag.
Also known as speed loaders, mag loaders are devices used to simplify magazine loading. Numerous designs are available but the simplest depress the uppermost round so you can insert the next round without difficulty. Depending on the design the loader might put emphasis on loading ease than speed loading.
Some magazine loaders are universal, i..e. compatible with all firearms. Others are meant to be used with a specific type like the Ruger 10/22.
Dry Socks and Other Clothing
Dry socks and extra clothing are necessary if you’re in a shooting competition or it’s outdoors and the condition is damp.
It’s never a good idea to shoot outdoors if it’s raining. But even a bright, sunny day can turn overcast in seconds. If there’s even the slightest chance of rain, bring rain gear. This is another reason why it makes sense to get a water-resistant or waterproof range bag.
A staple gun will prove useful if you’re at an outdoor shooting range as it’ll keep your targets and other paperwork in order.
Shooters use a marker to designate distances, targets, measurements and spots they’ve hit or want to target.
A data recorder does exactly that, record data so you can keep track of your progress. There are many ways to do this and the easiest is to keep track of your shooting accuracy.
Monitor your target accuracy as well as timing and speed. Take note also of the gun you use, ammo, distance etc. A notebook or a note-taking app makes tracking easier. The range can also supply you with data.
No need to pay for the range’s targets when you can have your own. If you’re computer graphics savvy you can create several in an illustration program and print them out. Paper targets are also widely available so finding one won’t be a problem.
If paper targets are insufficient or you want to try something different, check out targets that emit dust or smoke so you’ll know if you hit or missed the mark. Others prefer silhouettes while others like bull eyes, eventually you’ll find a favorite.
Is it necessary to use a carry case if you’ve got a range bag pistol pocket? It depends. If you’re not going to put anything else in the pistol pocket then it’s probably not.
But a carry case may be ideal if you’re going to put other items in it that could scratch your gun.
Allen Wrenches and Torque Wrench
If these aren’t yet included in your toolkit, they should be.
Use tape to conceal bullet holes. You can also place tape on your shooting glasses to cover your weak eye.
Items Suggested When Using Outdoor Ranges
Hat or Cap
Bring one in case the sun’s glare gets in your eyes. Make sure you’re comfortable in the cap in case you need to wear it for a long time.
Bug Spray and/or Suntan Lotion
You’ll need this when an outdoor range especially if you’ve got sensitive skin. Apply as much lotion as needed to cover any exposed skin. Consider getting a sunscreen as well to give yourself some UV protection.
Use lip balm to keep your lips from cracking when you’re under the sun. It’s actually a good idea to have this in your bag regardless where you’re going.
Appropriate Weather Clothing and Shoes
Casual is the norm at shooting ranges so feel free to dress in whatever makes you comfortable. For outdoor shooting wear something loose and fresh so even if it gets hot you’ll still be comfortable.
Keep tabs on your performance and how you’re improving day by day. A note-taking app is more practical than a physical notebook as it won’t take as much space in your range bag.
Prepared Skills & Drills
You’ll save yourself a lot of time by having prepared skills and drills.
Snap Caps or Dummy Rounds
Both of these are necessary when checking the status of your gun. Every now and then you’ll need to dry fire your gun and do some maintenance checkup so dummy rounds will be useful.
Use a timer to determine how quickly you’re able to hit your targets. Timers are particularly good if you’re preparing for a shooting competition.
Binoculars are handy for gauging your shot. However they serve the same purpose as a spotting scope, only spotting scopes are more effective.
Stuff Girls Need Just in Case
Nail File or Clippers
A nail file is handy in certain situations to keep your fingernails clean, but they can do more. You can also use that file to remove a stuck cartridge casing from a chamber for instance.
Personal Hygiene Items
Wipes, toiletries, toothbrush and comb are some of the essentials. You may add or remove hygiene items depending on your needs or how long you’re going to shoot in the range.
Hairbrush and Makeup
Girls have their own preferences when it comes to the ideal makeup kit. At the very least you should bring lip gloss and face powder so you can freshen up. You’ll also want to bring a hairbrush to keep your hair looking good.
Other Items to Consider
Some of the following items may or may not be essential to your shooting or hunting needs. If think you need these but don’t have space in your range bag, just put the items in another container or bag where you can them. Make a list of the things you need and organize them.
- Target stand
- Folding chair
- Handkerchief to wipe sweat
Gun Shooting Range Tips
- Never lose awareness of your surroundings whether it’s an indoor or outdoor range
- A gun’s safety feature only goes so far as you’re still responsible for how it’s used
- If your gun won’t fire when you pull the trigger, slowly point the barrel in a safe direction and unload the pistol
- Make sure the barrel doesn’t have anything blocking it before shooting or loading
- Only use the correct ammo
- Focus only on your target and don’t hit anything beyond it
- Do not point your firearm at anything you don’t intend to shoot
- Don’t place your finger on the trigger unless you’re going to pull it
Ideas about Locations
Location is not really an issue in shooting ranges. Indoors or outdoors you’re assured it legal. However, you need to be careful. Some factors to keep in mind:
- Firing guns in city limits are only permissible if you’re in an indoor or outdoor range or in self-defense.
- If you’re beyond city limits and have wooded property and have obtained permission to shoot, you’re good to go.
- National parks usually don’t let you shoot guns though you’re legally allowed to bring one.
- State lands have varying laws so check the regulations first. National forests also have varying policies.
Gun laws vary from state to state so you’ll need to check the laws in your state. The simplest way is to go to a gun store. There large stores around the US and also mom and pop stores where you can make a purchase.
Requirements vary per state, but the following are often needed:
- Proof you’re over 18 or 21 (valid ID)
- Your court record will be checked
- Proof of residency
- You can ask for a Personal Firearms Eligibility Check if you’re unsure of the requirements
- Most states require you to get a hunting certificate for long firearm purchases
Personal Emergency Information
Collect all the essential information and put them in one file. You can either write these down, put in a folder and store in your range bag. Or you can jot these in a Google Docs so your loved ones can access them anytime.
Include your contact information (phone numbers, email, office work number, relatives and friends to call). Don’t forget to bring your IDs. It’s also a good idea to make copies of all your gun-related documents. If you’re hunting, always carry your hunting license and other important paperwork.
Having a range bag solves a lot of the problems that shooters face when it comes to bringing the essential gear. With all the pockets, dividers and compartments you can store a lot of items so you won’t be forced to buy or rent from the range.
As I pointed at the beginning of the guide, the problem most shooters end up facing is figuring out what items to put in. Hopefully, this guide was able to help you determine which ones are needed and which aren’t. New to shooting or not, having the right set of gear makes all the difference in the world.