Assembling a Range Bag
Everyone’s got one. Some are like a bottomless pit; others seem to contain nothing at all.
More still seem highly specialized for whatever activity their owner is engaging in. Over time you learn the difference between items you should ALWAYS have on the range, items you need, and items that are just nice to have.
Starting from scratch, nearly any bag will do as long as it has the ability to close and be easily carried. In other words, bags with both handles and a shoulder strap allow for multiple ways of carry. You don’t want something with an open top. Pockets are great for separating items, just be wary of having too many or forgetting to put things back.The underrated pen and pad of paper score high placement on my list of must-haves.
Ear and eye protection are the very first things a range bag should have. I also keep extras on hand for new shooters or people who may have forgotten them. I choose to keep my ammunition in a separate area, but others choose to carry their ammunition in their bag. Range bag needs vary by person and use. For a generalized range bag, not intended for any sort of competition, I’d also include a rangefinder to measure target distances. Not all targets are clearly defined and whether you are attempting to get a zero in your backyard or can’t move past the firing line on a hot range, a rangefinder can accurately determine how far you are shooting. In some forms of competition, they’re not just nice but necessary.
Other handy tools include a knife and/or multi-tool. A cleaning rod is also important to clear jams. I also keep a myriad of general-purpose items: ibuprofen, sunscreen, bug spray, band aids, translucent scotch tape, a towel, extra plastic bags, a spare pair of sunglasses, tissues, and cleaning wipes. I’m likely forgetting a few things and not everyone packs their range bag this way. I like to be prepared and usually end up supplying missing items for others on the line, so I tend to keep extras of everything.
The underrated pen and pad of paper score high placement on my list of must-haves. Many times, I have needed to record zeroes, conditions, or write down information to share with other shooters. Why not by cell phone? Often, ranges have little or no service so the pen and paper come to the rescue. What about technology? Many people use chronographs, target cameras, and electronic targets with corresponding apps to aid in spotting and shooting. I’ve never seen outlets on an outdoor firing line. Pack an external battery with relevant cords to keep your devices working, especially in case of emergency.
It’s impossible to bring or fit everything in one bag. Some people choose to keep general tools, like Allen wrenches, in their vehicle. Others prefer to have different bags for different types of shooting and purposes: a gunsmithing bag, cleaning, general repair, target shooting, competition…the options are endless. There’s no right or wrong way to pack a range bag. In truth, it’s almost a reflection of the user. In the same way that evaluating the contents of a person’s fridge or garbage can tell you a lot about them, so can the items they bring with them to the range.
Hawke Endurance 1000 LRFLaser Range Finder
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Shooting, Hunting, Writing