by Peter Burlingame
The range bag is a piece of equipment that often gets overlooked. It’s not as sexy as new gun, but it is just as important to a productive range session. I’ll show you my range bag to give you an idea of what I bring to the range, and why I think it’s important. I will be covering some of these items in more depth in soon to follow articles.
- A Range Bag. A container to keep all of your gear together in one easy to grab and carry place. This can either be a soft case or hard box. Surplus Ammo boxes are good low cost alternatives, as are tool boxes. Tackle boxes have lots of small segments that help with organization. On the softer side of things, a simple duffel bag or back pack will work fine. There are some very nice purpose built range bags. Being designed for the task these bags protect your equipment and keep it neatly arranged.
- Eye Protection. From guns ejecting hot brass to lead spatter from shooting steel targets, your eyes need protection. Keep several pairs of safety glasses in your bag, clear for low light and tinted for bright sunlight. A spare pair can be lent to the new shooter that you are introducing to our sport.
- Ear Protection. Electronic hearing protection is very affordable now. Beyond reducing the harmful noises to safe levels, they amplify quieter sounds, making it easier to hear range commands. Keep spare batteries . As with eye protection, have spare hearing protection in your kit for the same reasons. Disposable ear plugs are inexpensive. Having a handful costs very little considering their usefulness. If you are shooting with women, remember that their hearing is much more sensitive than a men’s. Doubling up muff type ear pro with plugs will make her shooting experience less abusive to the senses. Electronic muffs make it easier to hear conversation with the plugs in.
- Targets. I’m always astounded when people show up to the range and don’t bring targets with them. Targets are inexpensive. Buying a pack will set you back a couple of bucks and last for several training sessions. Or make your own. I use MS Word to design and print out targets or go to www.targetz.com and download from their wide selection.
- Stapler and staples. To put up all those targets that you brought with you.
- Masking tape. After firing a handful of shots at the target it starts to get difficult to remember which shot was which. “Did I just pitch this shot into the 7 ring now, or was that there from before?” The purpose of targets is to provide feedback on your performance. Use the tape to cover the bullet holes on the target every 10 or so shots.
- Pens and Markers. Pens to make notes and markers to make impromptu targets and to blacken the masking tape on the black portions of the target
- Shot Timer. Like targets, shot timers give us feedback on our performance. While targets tell us where our bullets hit, the time tells us when they hit.
- Log Book. Keep track of your performance and document anything noteworthy.
- First Aid Kit. Stuff happens. Be prepared for the inevitable cuts, abrasions, scrapes, and scratches, as well as more serious injuries.
- Cleaning kit. I clean my guns at the range, that way I can test fire them afterward and make sure that I’ve put them back together properly and that they still work. A cleaning rod can be used to remove stuck bullets from the barrel if you have a squib load. A drop or two of oil will often be all that’s needed to get a balky gun running properly.
- Snivel gear. A hat, sunblock, insect repellent, bandana, and snacks/candy can make your range session more comfortable.
Having all of these items ready to go in one place, in one container will ensure that you have everything you need for a productive range session. We’ll examine some of this gear in more depth in the days to come.
Peter Burlingame is the founder of The Self Defense Initiative, a 25 year old training school based in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Peter is a contributing member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors and the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. His articles have been published in the FBI’s National Associates’ magazine, “The Firearms Instructor” and “Survival Quarterly.” You may contact him at email@example.com Videos at Youtube.com/vigunfighter.com