Don’t go to the range unprepared! Use this list to guide you and fill your bag with all the essential range gear (and some gear you might not think about)!
Range Gear You Need
You need something to carry all of your gear around. You should have one bag that is dedicated to your gun and range gear that can fit everything you need for a day at the range. Pockets specific to magazines and ammunition are always a nice touch.
You cannot go to the range without proper ear protection. The sound of a gun can be deafening and can harm your ears. Use both earplugs and muffs if you can to get the most protection, especially when shooting at an indoor range. There are passive and electronic earmuffs that you can use based on your preference. The electronic allows you to hear conversations and instruction but shut out the loader, higher decibel noise of gunfire. The higher the NRR the better it is for your ears.
Many people forget about or ignore the need for good eye protection. Spent casings, gases and debris can fly anywhere while shooting and the last place you want to feel the hot metal is in your eye! There are great options for everyone, even those who wear prescription lenses.
First Aid Gear
Keep a small first aid kit with you in your range bag. Whether it’s a “slide bite” or a bee sting, being prepared is a must. You may find you need some padding for a sore thumb (bandaids are great for this!). Accidents happen anywhere and being prepared is extremely important. Shooting in tip-top shape is ideal so keep your bandages and gauze on you as much as possible.
Take extra ammo! The worst thing about going to the range is not being able to shoot as much as you want, right? Don’t forget to bring boxes of ammunition with you so you can get as much practice in as possible.
This is really a no-brainer… Don’t make the mistake of going to the range and forgetting your own gun! Yes, this really has happened to me. You can bring multiple guns and practice with any that are okayed by your range. The more the better, right?
Lead and other unhealthy substances will attach to your clothes and skin while shooting. Have cleaning wipes designed to remove lead and other shooting debris to wipe down with to prevent transferring these substances to others or to your eyes and mouth.
Range Gear You Want
Wearing a good hat at the range will prevent spent casings from falling behind your protective eyewear and from landing down the front of your shirt. Buy a hat specifically for the range and keep it in your range bag at all times. This will ensure that you will always have your hat with you and will reduce transference of lead from your hat.
UpLula (or other ease of use items)
Range day usually means shooting hundreds of rounds and loading magazines over and over. For these days, protect your hands with a tool that will help you load your magazines and rack you slide easily. This for me is a must have and helps to protect your manicure.
It’s always a good idea to have spare magazines with you. Ones that you can load prior to shooting to not only be efficient with your range time but to Be able to practice re-loads. The ability to reload quickly will come in handy if you ever need to reload in a tense situation.
Training Log or Notebook
Keep track of your improvement with a notebook or training log. It can be difficult to know if you’re getting better without hard data. Get a notebook to keep in your range bag and write down the results of your practice drills.
Range Gear You Might Forget
Ideally, when you leave the range, you should change your clothes to minimize lead exposure. Keep a clean shirt in your bag so you can change right away.
Cleaning Kit (just in case!)
You never know when you’ll need to clean your gun! Guns work best when they are clean and lubricated. If you find that your gun is dirty, gummed up, or needs some TLC, you’ll have your cleaning kit at the ready. At a minimum carry a Bore Snake in your bag to give your gun barrel a quick swipe and cleaning.
Empty Chamber Indicator
Some ranges require you to have an empty chamber indicator to show that your firearm is safe when not shooting. Even if your range does not require this, it is a great thing to have for peace of mind for you and those around you. You can buy one or make one with a wire with a deflated balloon attached.
If your range bag doesn’t come with a pistol pad insert, you might consider packing a gun mat in your bag. They roll up fairly small and it can help keep your gun and range gear from damage and from rolling around. The soft material will hold onto your ammunition, magazines, and everything else you set on your booth and keep rolling and sliding to a minimum.
Of course, many ranges have targets… but do they have your favorite? Bring along your favorite fun and games or dot torture targets to sharpen your shooting skills.