If you are relatively new to serious shooting, and a friend has invited you down to the range to fire off a few rounds, you may be a little confused as to what you need to bring. Fear not – I’m here to take you through the essentials that you need to take.
Before I start, however, I know that I’m going to get a lot of angry emails from experienced shooters who claim that you are going to need a lot more than the items below.
Of course, as you get more experienced on the range, you are going to develop habits, and find items that you simply can’t do without. That’s up to you. My purpose here is to outline just the absolute essentials you are going to need.
One further piece of advice – if you are new to range shooting, and are going to buy some of the items below, don’t compromise on quality. You are going to need these items for years to come, so investing in the best value products you can afford will ensure that they last for years, and actually save you money in the long term.
Here’s what you need:
This is the first and most important part of your kit. Selecting the perfect range bag is a bit of a tricky process, because everybody shoots in a different way, but there are so many types available that finding the right one for you is just a matter of time. Ask your friends if you are unsure.
Note, also, that even if you are renting a gun to shoot from the range, you are still going to need a decent bag to carry all your other gear. Ideally, a good range bag should allow you to carry plenty of ammunition, at least two pistols, your hearing protection, eyewear, and perhaps a snack or two.
If you are taking your own gun to the range, of course, you are going to need something to carry it in. I don’t advise carrying your prized gun loose in a range bag, so have a look at some gun cases or rifle slings – these will protect your weapon, and yourself, from any accidents.
You are going to need hearing and eye protection. Whilst most ranges will allow you to rent these items for a minimal cost, if you take your shooting seriously it is worth investing in a good pair of goggles and ear defenders.
Most safety equipment available for hire on the range is pretty uncomfortable, and even if it is cheap to hire after a few trips the cost mounts. Ultimately, having your own gear means you will be more comfortable whilst shooting, and thus less distracted, and this means that you will be better at it.
If you are taking your own weapons to the range, you are going to need a gun cleaning kit. It doesn’t matter whether you’re toting an old six shooter or brand new Gen 5 Glock 19 — everyone should bring a kit to the range. With a decent kit, you can shoot all day, with only small pauses to clean out your weapon. Keeping a gun clean prolongs its life, and also improves your shooting performance.
A gun cleaning kit need not be a huge expense. Nowadays, there are relatively cheap kits available that do not take up much room in your range bag, whilst also providing a full set of cleaning tools for whatever weapon you have.
A lot of novice shooters forget these items, but they are a staple of experienced shooters’ range bags. Having a pen to document your shooting is a must, of course, if only so you can brag about your score after your range session. Tape is always useful for holding up targets, and a camera can preserve your memories of the range.
It goes without saying that, when on the range, you need to wear appropriate clothing. There are a few essentials to keep you safe. Firstly, you should have a pair of sturdy, close-toed shoes.
Second, your pants and shirt should be loose enough to allow you to feel comfortable, without being so loose that you catch them on your weapon when you are drawing. Bear in mind that many ranges are climate-controlled, so you are not going to need a heavy coat to keep you warm.
Beyond this, everybody has their own preferences, and experienced shooters will swear by a particular item, a particular pair of boots, or their “lucky shirt”.
In the end, what you take to the range will grow and adapt over the years, and eventually become totally personalized. Take these 5 things as a minimum, and see where it goes from there!