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What To Keep In Your Range Bag

What To Keep In Your Range Bag

Whether you’re an avid shooter of Glocks and AR-15s (like me) or a firearms enthusiast with a passion for range days, knowing what to pack in your range bag is crucial. In this guide, we’ll cover the essentials and some specialized items that can enhance your shooting experience.

Magazines and Ammunition: The Basics for Any Range Day

When preparing for a range day, the cornerstone of your gear should be a well-stocked supply of magazines and ammunition.

Choosing the Right Magazines:

  • Quantity and Capacity: Always bring more magazines than you think you’ll need. This not only saves time on reloading but also ensures you have backups in case of malfunctions.
  • Compatibility and Specifics: Ensure your magazines match the specific model and caliber of your firearms.

Ammunition: Types and Quantities:

  • Type of Ammunition: Choose the right type of ammo for your purpose – whether it’s practice, competition, or tactical training. Practice rounds are usually more affordable, but it’s also good to train with the type of ammunition you’d use in real-world scenarios.
  • Quantity: The rule of thumb is to bring more ammo than you estimate using. This accounts for extended shooting sessions or the opportunity to share with fellow shooters.
  • Storage and Safety: Keep your ammunition securely stored in your range bag, ideally in designated ammo boxes to prevent any damage or accidents.

Tips for Effective Loading:

  • Pre-Load Magazines: To maximize your time at the range, consider pre-loading some of your magazines at home.
  • Regular Rotation: Regularly rotate the magazines you use to ensure even wear and reliability.

Maintenance and Care:

  • Regular Inspection: Regularly inspect your magazines for wear and tear, especially the springs and followers, to ensure reliable feeding.
  • Ammo Quality Check: Always check your ammunition for any signs of corrosion, dents, or other damage before loading it into your magazines.

Firearm Maintenance: Lube for Smooth Operation

The importance of firearm maintenance cannot be overstated, and at the heart of this maintenance is the use of quality lubrication. A well-lubricated firearm ensures reliability, accuracy, and longevity.

Understanding the Importance of Proper Lubrication:

  • Reducing Friction and Wear: Lubrication minimizes the friction between moving parts, reducing wear and tear on your firearm.
  • Enhancing Performance: Proper lubrication ensures smoother action of the firearm, contributing to better shooting accuracy and reliability.
  • Preventing Corrosion: Good lube also offers protection against rust and corrosion, which is particularly important in varying weather conditions.

Choosing the Right Lubricant:

  • Type of Lubricant: There are various types of firearm lubricants available, including oil, greases, etc. Each has its specific uses and benefits, so choose one that suits your firearm’s needs and your shooting environment.
  • Quality Matters: Invest in high-quality lubricants designed specifically for firearms. These products are formulated to withstand the high temperatures and pressures encountered during shooting.

Application Tips:

  • Applying Correctly: Apply lube to all moving parts of your firearm, but avoid over-lubrication as it can attract dirt and debris.
  • Focus on Key Areas: Pay special attention to areas like the bolt carrier group in AR-15s and the slide rails in Glocks and other handguns, as these are high-friction points.
  • Regular Maintenance: Regularly clean and lubricate your firearm, especially after extended use or exposure to harsh conditions.

Storage and Accessibility:

  • Convenient Packaging: Choose lubricants in packaging that is easy to carry in your range bag, such as small bottles or tubes.
  • Easy Access: Keep your lubricant in an easily accessible pocket of your range bag so you can quickly perform maintenance at the range if needed.

Including a quality lubricant in your range bag and knowing how to use it effectively is a key aspect of firearm maintenance. This not only ensures the smooth operation of your firearm but also contributes to the overall safety and enjoyment of your shooting experience.

Hand Protection: The Importance of Shooting Gloves

In the world of shooting sports, the role of shooting gloves extends far beyond mere comfort. They are an essential piece of protective gear, safeguarding your hands from a variety of potential hazards.

Benefits of Wearing Shooting Gloves:

  • Heat Protection: Shooting gloves provide a barrier against the heat generated by repeated firing, especially important in rapid shooting scenarios.
  • Enhanced Grip: Gloves offer improved grip on your firearm, ensuring steadier handling and better overall control, crucial for both precision shooting and rapid-fire situations.

Protection from Mechanical Failures:

  • In the rare event of a mechanical failure or misfire, gloves can offer a crucial layer of protection against burns, abrasions, or worse. This is particularly important for those who experiment with different types of ammunition or custom modifications.

Shielding Against Environmental Elements:

  • Cold Weather: In colder months, gloves keep your hands warm, maintaining dexterity and comfort, which directly affects your shooting performance.
  • Rough Terrains: When shooting outdoors, gloves protect your hands from cuts, scrapes, and other injuries that can occur in rugged terrains.

Choosing the Right Gloves:

  • Material and Durability: Look for gloves made from materials that offer a good balance of protection, sensitivity, and durability. Materials like leather, neoprene, or synthetic fabrics are popular choices.
  • Fit and Comfort: Ensure the gloves fit well. Too tight, and they restrict movement; too loose, and they compromise grip and control.
  • Dexterity: Choose gloves that allow enough dexterity to perform tasks like reloading magazines or adjusting sights without the need to remove them.

Incorporating a quality pair of shooting gloves into your range gear is not just about comfort; it’s a proactive step towards ensuring safety, enhancing performance, and adapting to various shooting environments. Whether you’re at the range for a casual day of shooting or in more demanding tactical scenarios, the right gloves can make a significant difference.

Hearing Safety: Ear Protection Essentials

Hearing protection is a critical component of shooting safety. Prolonged exposure to the loud noises of gunshots without adequate ear protection can lead to permanent hearing damage. This is why it’s essential to include both earplugs and earmuffs in your range bag, along with extra sets for any companions or new shooters.

Understanding the Need for Dual Protection:

  • Earplugs: These are inserted into the ear canal, offering a first layer of sound dampening. They are lightweight, portable, and can be used in combination with earmuffs for enhanced protection.
  • Earmuffs: These provide an additional layer of protection by covering the entire ear. Earmuffs are especially useful in reducing the high-decibel sounds of gunshots and are ideal for prolonged shooting sessions.

Advantages of Carrying Both Plugs and Muffs:

  • Double Protection: Using both plugs and muffs simultaneously, often referred to as ‘double-plugging,’ offers the highest level of hearing protection, particularly important in indoor ranges or when using firearms with higher decibel levels.
  • Flexibility for Different Environments: Different shooting environments (indoor vs. outdoor) and firearm types may require different levels of hearing protection. Having both options allows you to adapt accordingly.

Considerations for Quality Ear Protection:

  • Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): Look for ear protection with a high NRR to ensure maximum sound attenuation.
  • Comfort and Fit: Comfortable ear protection is more likely to be worn consistently. Choose earmuffs with padded headbands and earplugs made of comfortable, non-irritating materials.
  • Durability: Durable materials ensure that your hearing protection withstands the rigors of regular use.

Importance of Spare Protection:

  • Guests and New Shooters: Always have spare earplugs or earmuffs for guests or new shooters who may not have their own.
  • Emergencies: Spare ear protection can come in handy if your primary set is lost or damaged.

Educating Others:

  • Share the importance of hearing protection with new shooters. Demonstrating good safety habits, including consistent use of ear protection, sets a positive example.

The importance of protecting your hearing cannot be overstated, especially in a sport that exposes you to frequent loud noises. Remember, hearing loss is gradual and irreversible, making proactive protection essential.

Unforeseen Situations: The Utility of a Cleaning Rod

Preparedness for unexpected situations is a key aspect of responsible firearm handling. Among the essential tools for such preparedness is the cleaning rod. Its utility extends beyond routine maintenance, playing a critical role in addressing unforeseen issues that may arise during a shooting session.

Dealing with Jammed Cases and Obstructions:

  • Clearing Jammed Cases: A cleaning rod is indispensable for safely removing jammed cases that cannot be ejected through normal cycling of the firearm. This is a common issue that can occur with all types of firearms.
  • Removing Barrel Obstructions: The rod can be used to clear any debris or obstructions in the barrel that may occur if a firearm is dropped or used in dirty environments. Such obstructions, if left unchecked, can lead to dangerous barrel pressure issues upon firing.

Versatility in Maintenance:

  • Routine Cleaning: Apart from emergency uses, a cleaning rod is also integral to regular firearm maintenance. It is used for cleaning the barrel, ensuring that it is free from build-up and residue, which is vital for the firearm’s accuracy and longevity.
  • Applying Solvents and Lubricants: The rod can be used with patches or brushes to apply solvents and lubricants inside the barrel, keeping it in optimal condition.

Selecting the Right Cleaning Rod:

  • Material and Strength: Choose a cleaning rod made from durable materials like carbon fiber or coated steel to prevent barrel damage.
  • Length and Compatibility: Ensure the rod is the correct length and diameter for your firearm. A rod that is too short or too thin may not effectively reach or clean the entire barrel.

Portability and Storage:

  • Compact Design: Opt for a cleaning rod that can be easily disassembled or is compact enough to fit in your range bag without taking up too much space.
  • Protective Case: If possible, carry the rod in a protective case or sleeve to prevent damage and to keep it clean and ready for use.

Safety Considerations:

  • Firearm Unloading: Always ensure the firearm is unloaded before using a cleaning rod to clear jams or for maintenance.
  • Barrel Inspection: After using a cleaning rod, inspect the barrel to ensure it is clear and undamaged before resuming shooting.

Training and Practice:

  • Familiarize yourself with the proper use of a cleaning rod. Knowing how to quickly and safely resolve a jam or clear an obstruction can significantly reduce downtime and enhance safety at the range.

Inclusion of a cleaning rod in your range bag equips you to swiftly and effectively address a range of unexpected issues, ensuring that your shooting experience is not only enjoyable but also uninterrupted and safe. For any shooter, this tool is an essential component of a well-prepared range setup.

Tool Kit: Allen Wrenches for Adjustments

A well-equipped tool kit is a must-have for any shooter, especially those who regularly handle Glocks and AR-15s. Among the essential tools in this kit are Allen wrenches (also known as hex keys), which are vital for making quick adjustments and fixes. Frequent shooting can lead to the loosening of various components, and having the right tools at hand can make all the difference.

Common Uses of Allen Wrenches in Firearm Maintenance:

  • Sight Adjustments: Allen wrenches are often needed for adjusting, tightening, or replacing the sights on many firearms.
  • Accessory Installation: Whether you’re attaching a new scope, a flashlight, or other accessories, hex keys are often the required tool for securing these additions.
  • General Tightening: Over time and with regular use, screws and bolts can loosen. A quick tighten with an Allen wrench can prevent parts from becoming too loose or falling off.

Choosing the Right Set of Allen Wrenches:

  • Size Variety: Ensure your set includes a variety of sizes. Firearms and their accessories often require different sizes of hex keys.
  • Quality Material: Opt for wrenches made from durable materials, such as hardened steel, to withstand the torque needed for firearm adjustments.
  • Portability: Choose a compact set that can easily fit in your range bag without taking up too much space.

Additional Tools for a Comprehensive Kit:

  • Screwdrivers: A set of flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers can be just as crucial as Allen wrenches.
  • Torque Wrench: For precise tightening, a torque wrench can ensure that screws and bolts are not over-tightened, which can strip threads or damage parts.

Organizing Your Tool Kit:

  • Carrying Case: Keep your tools organized in a small, durable case. This not only makes it easier to find what you need but also protects the tools from damage.
  • Tool Maintenance: Regularly check and maintain your tools to ensure they are in good working order. Rusty or damaged tools can cause more harm than good.

Safety and Usage Tips:

  • Proper Use: Familiarize yourself with the proper use of each tool. Using the wrong size or type of tool can damage your firearm.
  • Unloading the Firearm: Always ensure your firearm is unloaded before performing any maintenance or adjustments.

Having a set of Allen wrenches and other essential tools in your range bag empowers you to handle routine adjustments and potential issues with ease. This not only keeps your shooting experience smooth but also extends the life and reliability of your firearms.

Emergency Preparedness: Med/Trauma Kit

In the realm of shooting sports, whether it be at a range or in a field setting, emergency preparedness is crucial. Accidents, while rare, can occur, and having a well-stocked medical or trauma kit is a fundamental aspect of shooting safety.

Essential Components of a Med/Trauma Kit:

  • Tourniquet: A lifesaving tool for stopping severe bleeding, particularly from extremity wounds. Knowing how to properly apply a tourniquet is as important as having one.
  • Pressure Dressings and Hemostatic Agents: Used for controlling bleeding. Hemostatic agents like QuickClot can be particularly effective in managing gunshot wounds.
  • Bandages and Gauze: A variety of sizes for dressing different types of wounds.
  • Medical Tape and Scissors: For securing bandages and cutting gauze or clothing if necessary.
  • Antiseptic Wipes and Creams: To prevent infection in minor cuts or abrasions.
  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain medication can be useful for managing minor pains or headaches.
  • Gloves: Sterile gloves to prevent contamination when treating wounds.

Training and Knowledge:

  • First Aid Training: Consider undergoing basic first aid training, including how to use each item in your trauma kit. Courses specifically designed for gunshot wound management are also available.
  • Regular Refreshers: Keep your skills up-to-date with regular refreshers or practice sessions.

Kit Accessibility and Maintenance:

  • Easy Access: Keep your med/trauma kit in an easily accessible part of your range bag.
  • Regular Checks: Regularly check the contents of your kit to replace any used or expired items.

Carrying a comprehensive med/trauma kit is not just about responding to potential firearm-related injuries; it’s about being prepared for any medical emergency that might arise during shooting activities. This level of preparedness is a sign of a responsible and safety-conscious shooter, particularly for those frequently handling firearms.

Skill Improvement: The Benefit of a Shot Timer

In the pursuit of improving shooting skills, a shot timer is an invaluable tool. Far more than just a practice aid, it offers a comprehensive way to measure and enhance various aspects of shooting proficiency. Whether you’re training solo, with a coach, or enjoying a day at the range with friends, a shot timer can add a quantitative edge to your shooting sessions.

Measuring Reaction Times and Shooting Speed:

  • Draw to First Shot: Track how quickly you can draw and fire your first shot, a critical metric for defensive shooting scenarios.
  • Split Times: Measure the time between shots, which is crucial for refining rapid-fire techniques and ensuring controlled, consistent shooting.

Enhancing Shooting Drills:

  • Structured Practice: Use a shot timer to structure your drills, setting specific goals for each session. This could include reducing draw times, improving accuracy under time pressure, or increasing speed in magazine changes.
  • Building Pressure: Training with the added pressure of a timer can help simulate real-life stress scenarios, improving your ability to shoot accurately under pressure.

Friendly Competitions and Community Engagement:

  • Competing with Peers: A shot timer allows for friendly competition among peers, adding an element of fun and challenge to range days. Comparing times can foster a healthy competitive spirit and motivate improvement.
  • Benchmarking Progress: Regularly using a shot timer allows you to track your progress over time, setting personal bests and striving to beat them.

Selecting the Right Shot Timer:

  • Features and Functions: Look for a timer with a clear display, adjustable sensitivity, and the ability to store and recall previous times.
  • Durability: Choose a robust timer that can withstand the rigors of frequent use and the outdoor environment.

Integration with Training Regimens:

  • Structured Training Programs: Incorporate the shot timer into your structured training regimen, using it to gauge improvements in specific shooting aspects like accuracy, speed, and movement.
  • Professional Training: Shooting instructors often use shot timers in their coaching, providing tangible feedback on a shooter’s performance and areas for improvement.

A shot timer is more than a simple timing device; it’s a tool that brings an analytical edge to your shooting practice. For shooters, whether focusing on self-defense scenarios, competitive shooting, or general skill enhancement, incorporating a shot timer can lead to significant improvements in performance and enjoyment of the sport.

Organizational Aids: Masking Tape and Sharpie

Effective organization is key to a smooth and efficient experience at the shooting range. Simple tools such as masking tape and a Sharpie marker can be surprisingly versatile and beneficial for numerous organizational tasks.

Labeling Magazines:

  • Identification: Use masking tape and a Sharpie to label magazines, especially when using multiple firearms. This helps in quickly identifying which magazines belong to which gun, particularly useful in scenarios where you’re switching between different models or calibers.
  • Tracking Performance: Labeling magazines can also help track their performance. If a particular magazine is causing issues, it can be easily identified and set aside for further inspection or maintenance.

Marking Targets:

  • Scoring and Analysis: Use a Sharpie to mark targets for scoring or to analyze shooting patterns. This can be invaluable for tracking improvements in accuracy and identifying areas that need work.
  • Drill Customization: Customizing targets with specific markings can aid in running specific drills or scenarios, enhancing your shooting practice.

General Organization:

  • Equipment Labeling: Label other equipment in your range bag, like ear and eye protection, to prevent mix-ups, especially when shooting with a group.
  • Quick Notes: A Sharpie is handy for jotting down quick notes, such as recording shooting distances, weather conditions, or adjustments made during a session.

Maintenance and Repair:

  • Marking Faulty Gear: Use tape and a marker to tag equipment that needs repair or replacement. This can include gear like holsters, slings, or even parts of the firearm itself.
  • Temporary Fixes: Masking tape can serve as a temporary fix for minor issues, like securing loose items or patching up shooting gear until proper repairs can be made.

Enhancing Safety:

  • Safety Reminders: Write safety reminders or range rules on tape and stick them to your gear or range bag as a constant visual reminder.

Convenience and Portability:

  • Compact and Lightweight: Both masking tape and a Sharpie are lightweight and take up minimal space, making them easy to carry in any range bag.
  • Quick Access: Keeping these items in an easily accessible pocket of your range bag ensures they are at hand when needed.

Incorporating these simple yet effective organizational aids into your range routine can significantly streamline your experience. For shooters of all levels, the use of masking tape and a Sharpie for labeling, marking, and quick fixes is a practical and straightforward way to maintain order and efficiency.

AR-15 Maintenance: Armorer’s Wrench

For enthusiasts of the AR-15 platform, the armorer’s wrench is an indispensable tool, crucial for maintaining and adjusting this popular firearm. Its specific design and multifunctional capabilities make it an essential item in any AR-15 shooter’s range bag. The wrench is not just a tool; it’s a lifeline for on-the-spot adjustments, repairs, and maintenance that can be crucial in both casual and competitive shooting settings.

An armorer’s wrench is more than just a tool; it’s a vital component of the AR-15 shooter’s kit. Its inclusion in your range bag ensures you’re prepared for any maintenance or adjustment needs that arise, keeping your AR-15 in top condition and ready for action.

Suppressor Care: Suppressor Mitt

For shooters who regularly use suppressors on their firearms, managing the intense heat generated during firing is crucial. A suppressor mitt is specifically designed for this purpose, protecting the user from burns and enhancing the overall shooting experience. The use of a suppressor mitt is not just a comfort measure; it’s a vital safety accessory for anyone involved in suppressed shooting.

Importance of a Suppressor Mitt:

  • Heat Protection: Suppressors can become extremely hot after just a few rounds of firing. A suppressor mitt allows you to safely handle the suppressor immediately after shooting, preventing burns.
  • Enhanced Safety: Using a mitt reduces the risk of accidentally touching the hot suppressor, especially in dynamic shooting environments or when quick movements are involved.

Additional Suppressor Care Tips:

  • Cooling Down: Allow your suppressor to cool down naturally after use. A suppressor mitt can aid in safely transporting a hot suppressor but should not be used to force-cool the suppressor.
  • Regular Cleaning: Regularly clean your suppressor according to the manufacturer’s instructions to maintain its efficiency and longevity.
  • Proper Storage: When not in use, store your suppressor in a cool, dry place to prevent corrosion or damage.

Incorporating a suppressor mitt into your range gear is a smart move for anyone frequently using suppressors. It not only protects you from heat-related injuries but also contributes to the proper handling and maintenance of your suppressor, ensuring its performance and longevity.

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