How To Prepare and Pack a Shooting Bag for the Range
If you go to the range often enough, you’re going to accumulate all kinds of gear and accessories.
It’s an inevitable yet great aspect of this sport we’ve come to love. In fact, sometimes it’s downright impossible to resist the urge to buy more stuff.
The problem then becomes not only what to take to the range and what to leave behind, but what to use to get it there. From simple pistol cases to monstrous roll out boxes that take up the entire bed of a truck, there are dozens of ways to haul your shooting supplies to the range.
However, for every case, box, or shooting bag out there, there are even more things to consider when choosing the right one for you and your range plan. In other words, you should think about everything you need for a successful afternoon at the range.
Nonetheless, any range bag worth its salt should be equipped with certain basic features.
What You Need in a Shooting Bag
Pockets, Pockets, and More Pockets
Your range bag should be equipped with plenty of pockets of all different sizes in order to hold the variety of shooting accessories and tools I’m sure you have.
Amenities like hard-sided ammo pockets, soft lined pistol pockets, a water bottle holder, and other thoughtful features designed to let you get the most from your time on the range should also be included.
Rough and Tumble Durability
Above all else, your range bag must be durable and able to hold up to being dragged from one stall to the next, thrown in the trunk, and packed full of metal ammo cases, magazines, knifes, targets, multi-tools, and so on.
Try to find a bag featuring a thick Cordura nylon construction, heavy-duty zippers, and double-sided stitching, especially at the seams.
Comfortable Shoulder Straps
Whether you’re out in the boonies or at your local range, carrying around a shooting bag loaded with metal is no easy task.
Nicely padded shoulder straps will help shoulder the load and take pressure off of your arms and hands, so you’ll have plenty of strength for squeezing off round after round.
Your range bag should be made to accommodate all of the basic shooting essentials. While there are plenty of items you can stuff in your bag to enhance your day at the range, you’ll definitely need the following essentials:
- Lots of Ammo - The only thing worse than settling in at the range and running out of ammo is getting there and realizing you left the ammo box back home in the gun safe. Unless you want to pay an arm and a leg buying ammo at the range, make sure your shooting bag is well stocked with all of the ammo you need for your weapons and plan of attack.
- Spare Magazines - There’s no need to feed hungry mag after hungry mag and waste precious time at the range. Instead, get some extras, fill them up, and stick them in your bag, so you can pop in a new mag and get back to taking out targets down range.
- Multi-Tool - You never know when you’ll need a multi-tool to bend, pry, or unscrew something at the range, so it’s better to have it packed in your bag than go without it.
- Knife – A knife can come in handy in a variety of situations, both on the range and off.
- Ear and Eye Protection – Ear and eye protection is essential for the range. If you scratch, break, or lose your ear and eye equipment, you’ll be stuck with the range handouts. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- Targets – Shooting at empty space is far from fun, so make sure to pack plenty of targets in your range bag before you head out. While ranges also sell targets, like most things for sale at the range, they’ll cost you more.
- First Aid Kit – Gauze, bandages, and other first aid essentials will come in handy for slide bites and other minor injuries, so you can stay in your shooting lane and keep firing away.
- Staple Gun or Double-Sided Tape – Do targets hang themselves? Nope, that’s what a staple gun or double-sided tape is for.
- Baby Wipes – Great for getting rid of dirt and gunshot residue.
- Water – A hydrated shooter is a straight shooter. Well, in most cases at least.
Amped Up Range Essentials
While not absolute essentials like the items above, here are some more accessories and gear options to help you get the most out of your range time:
- Flashlight – Don’t waste time looking through your bag at an indoor range with low light conditions. Use a flashlight instead. It can also help spot an empty breach.
- Holster – A holster may seem superfluous when you're out at the range, but there's nothing like the Wild West feel of a clipped glock holster on your hip.
- Tape for Targets – Why waste your money on targets when you can spend it on weapons and ammo instead. A roll of white and a roll of black masking tape will let you reuse targets over and over again.
- Towel – Sweat can get in your eyes and affect your grip, so bring a towel to keep dry on hot days.
- Sharpie – Just in case you want to mark your shots.
- Log Book – A log book or D.O.P.E. (Data On Previous Engagements) book is essential for long range shooters and will help you recognize shooting patterns, avoid past mistakes, and stick to a regular cleaning schedule.
- Gun Mat – A soft sticky surface will help keep your weapons, mags, and other gear safely in place rather than sliding off the shooting bench and onto the floor.
Luxury Range Items
They’re not necessarily essential, but here are few things that are nice to have in your range bag as well:
- Range Finder – A range finder can help confirm your calculations when shooting long distance.
- Spotting Scope – A proper spotting scope will take the guesswork and squinting out of figuring out where on the paper your rounds hit.
- Wind Gauge – A wind gauge can be used to confirm your wind calling skills when shooting long range.
- Target Camera – A quality target camera system is one of the coolest things a shooter can have. You can focus the camera on targets and spot where your shots land up to a mile away.