Range Bag Essentials for New Pistol Shooters
Updated: Sep 14
Have you heard the term Range Day? Of course you have. It’s the greatest day of the week for us gun owners, the day we head to our favorite range to practice proficiency and marksmanship. As a new gun owner, this thought may be a bit overwhelming and intimidating. You could be asking yourself, “What do I bring? What do I need? Where do I go?” If you’re asking yourself any of these questions, keep reading. Even if you’re not, keep reading anyway! And when you finish, let us know what you bring to the range.
As much as we all love the idea of a super loaded out, tactical range bag with the latest and greatest gear, don’t stress about that. This new hobby will lead you down that road in no time. As a beginner, focus on the basics and fundamentals.
So tomorrow is the big day, you’re getting yourself ready to go to the range, and you begin packing your range bag (hopefully it’s a Gauge Outfitters Heritage Range Bag!). You place your newly purchased firearm and some ammunition in the bag. Now what? Let’s start with safety and protection.
Hearing Protection is very important if you’d like to keep your hearing, and we personally find there are some great products out there. Walkers Razor Series’ ultra compact design offers superior hearing protection in a low profile design.
Say hearing muffs aren’t your thing and you want something that fits directly into the ear: Surefire EP3 Sonic Defenders are an excellent value and work exceptionally well. These will provide the protection you need while still maintaining the ability to safely hear other sounds around you.
Eye Protection is another very important piece of gear, and this is as personal as the deodorant you use. We personally have two options. If shooting outside, we are big advocates of polarized sunglasses that allow clarity and protect your eyes from those nasty UVA/UVB rays. Not sure where to look? Check out my personal favorites: Costa Del Mar Reefton. On the other hand, if you’re shooting inside under lighting that never seems to be that great, you may want to consider a quality pair of impact resistant lenses like the Oakley M Frame. We have personally used these for years, and they are tough, rugged, and extra clear.
First Aid Kit-Med Kit: This is a must-have. After all, at the gun range safety is always your first concern. We always recommend a bit more robust of a kit that can handle anything from a small cut to a gunshot wound. With the right training, this piece of gear that doesn’t eat up much space in your bag could earn its weight in gold if you ever need it. This is not an area where you want to go cheap! Buy quality, learn how to use each item in the kit, and if the day ever comes that you have to use it, you’ll be glad you made the investment of time and money. Personally, we really like the folks at Live The Creed. They have some of the best first aid kits on the market for all budgets. We use the Responder IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit or Improved First Aid Kit). In simple terms, it has more stuff for bigger boo-boos!
If you’re shooting outside, don’t forget the sunscreen! Most outdoor ranges have limited coverings, and here in our home state of South Carolina, that sun can pound you. We only use Predator War Paint, and for some very important reasons besides their really cool name. Their one-of-a-kind zinc technology creates a physical barrier on your skin, shielding you from the sun as well as pollutants. This SPF-50 product is field tested, water and sweat resistant (80 minutes), non-migrating, and hypoallergenic. Plus, it’s made in the USA.
Pistol Cleaning Field Kit
A dirty gun is an unreliable gun. Keep it clean and it will function reliably time and time again. You may not think you’ll ever need to clean your gun at the range, but at some point you’ll come across a stuck casing, and the little rod in this kit will help you remove the cartridge safely and resume shooting. Sometimes ammo is a bit dirty and your muzzle could use a quick wipe before you get home and properly disassemble and clean per your gun according to manufacturer’s recommendations. We personally have a few different brands we like, but we recommend you find one that you like and works best for you.
Now that we’ve covered the three biggest for safety and protection, let’s take a look at some miscellaneous to complete your range bag’s contents. Since all ranges are different and you may need to set up your own targets, be sure to bring some masking tape, stapler, and extra staples. Bring along a marker for marking your targets and counting your shots, and a set of gloves is also nice to have.
As far as gun handling and shooting procedures, details vary, but you can expect some of the following rules to be on the list. These exist for your safety and that of your range neighbors, so make sure you understand and follow them carefully.
Guns shouldn't be loaded until you are on the firing line and ready to shoot.
Make sure that the muzzle of your gun is pointed down range at all times.
Keep your gun in a case until you're in position on the shooting line.
Shoot at your target only and never across lanes.
This was just a short overview of a highly individual question: What goes in your bag? This is a basic list, and remember, this is your bag! Make it your own, try different things, ask other shooters what they carry in their bag, and before you know it you’ll be a pro sharing your experiences with other new shooters. Most shooters are thrilled to help new shooters with their questions. And most ranges will have a range officer who is there to help, so don’t be afraid to ask any questions you have. Now go out there, have fun, and be safe!