By Brian P.

I have precious little time to hit the range. Ring a bell? Three kids, five day a week work week with an hour commute, and a wife who rotates weekends every third while I rotate weekends every fourth. Needless to say… things don’t always permit a range day. When I do get out, I want to make the most of my time and I don’t want to be stopped. I have a few tips to share that will help readers stay put at the range even if the weather turns fowl, and some that will keep you productive so when you can get out to shoot you’re actually pulling the trigger more . . .

Learned the Hard Way

Most of the gear here was purchased or obtained to solve a problem I had encountered at the range. Each of these items has a purpose in my range bag and I hope some of the gear might help you keep on top of things at the range. Each one of these items I obtained to fix a problem (or potential problem) that might stop me from getting the most out of my trigger time. Let’s get started….

Spotting Scope gun cube shooting matt

A spotting scope would be my number #1 productivity item. You simply cannot let cool gun accessories sway you from making this purchase early in your shooting career. When you have to wait for a cold range call to examine your target groupings and results, that’s all downtime where you could be adjusting your optic or experimenting with different loads from the comfort of your range bench.

I have a Barska el-cheapo and it is just serviceable enough to permit me to keep it around. It lets me adjust POI, hang multiple targets, and jot down group patterns while I sit and wait. Essential.

Secondly, a shooting mat. I purchased a budget friendly mat from Midway USA. There is no substitute for a good shooting mat. I have tried blankets, tarps, etc., and I realized that the shooting mat should have been purchased along with the spotting scope from day one of my shooting career.

Those two items are an essential part of the range bag for any shooter, but over the years a few other items have made their way into my rotation that proved to have great utility as well.

Right in the Rain Journal 2

Rite in the Rain makes several waterproof items that maintain integrity in even wet conditions. They sell a printable blank paper as well as a 25m M16/M4 zero target that sheds water. Too many days I have missed due to rain, and having the capability of hanging targets which don’t disintegrate in the wet stuff is a bonus. One ream of the blank paper will last me for years and it should add some variety to my range sessions since I can print custom targets with the stuff. Speaking of paper….

Right in the Rain

Each gun should have a log book. When Rite in the Rain sent me the paper and targets for evaluation, they also sent along a log book. Every shooter needs a log book, be it a notepad, a high power shooting book, or a leather bound journal. These books allow you to draw targets, log conditions, journal weapon round count, and evaluate results. As you can see, the RITR log book has squares which I labeled as equaling one inch.

Range Tips

I logged several different loadings that range session, and it appears I need to go one click R on my windage from my TA31F. The book will help me keep track of many different loadings, and I can adjust my optics to any load I have shot without major headaches. Bingo, another item I should have had years ago. Getting a log book, or recording your data is essential to maintaining productivity.

Bravo Conealment means concealed

Gear wise, I have a Bravo Concealment SNS-R that has been coming with me lately. Its a concealable rifle/pistol/flashlight holder. “Did you say concealable?” Yes I did.

The fact of the matter is some ranges and range officers are not all warmed up to magazine changes. Showing up with noticeable tactical gear might buy you more time under their *ahem* watchful gaze than do the goofballs several stalls over who muzzle swiping everyone. But I digress.


Having something like the SNS-R allows you to keep a low profile while you shoot and permits you to get some time in with rifle and pistol mag changes without really loading up the belt. And the flashlight pouch gives me easy access to another great item to bring to the range.

I also bring a complete spare parts kit as well. This doesn’t need much explanation. If your rifle goes down, what good are you? I have seen many guns choke and go down at competitions, and there is always someone with a broken gun. It’s a real eye opener. Don’t be that guy. Invest in the most commonly broken spares to stock your box and keep your gun running.

Lastly as you see in some of the photos, a shootable poly cube is a good thing to bring to the range. My club would bring these out to add some reactive targets to our events, and they can be strung up anywhere. Some ranges don’t like reactive targets, so ask first. Stringing up a cube on some parachute cord gives you a reactive target that can keep you shooting on a wet range, or you can hang a few up to practice transitions and impromptu speed drills when no steel is available. Really nice doohickey to have.

Wrapping Up

I hope this will help you make some gear choices that will add value to your next range session. We go to the range to shoot, and down time is just not cool. Stay productive with the right tools and gear, and you will have a much more enjoyable (and productive) time at the range.


29 Responses to Making the Most of Your Range Time

  1. What power spotting scope do you recommend? Is it like 20x? I have tried a pair of 10x binoculars and they just don’t make it for 100 yards with the shake and lower quality optics of the less expensive brands. The tripod on the scope probably makes a huge difference.

    • I use a 20-60x spotting scope. Its not the most expensive spotter, but the quality is good enough for 100-200 yard shot ID.

      I spent $130 on it iirc.

    • Even better, a high quality scope that’ll hit 20x magnification. There are 3.5-21x, 5-20x, 5-25x etc. that are great for .308s, 6.5-7mm- .300 mags, and .338s. Put one on a LaRue QD mount and swap them on anything with 1913 rails. You can even get a 1913 rail on a mini tripod if you don’t want a mega scope on your rifle. My $.02.

  2. I kind of like the idea of a separate log book for each firearm. I have been recording everything in a single log book and that approach definitely has some shortcomings.

  3. Has anyone found any mobile apps (thinking iPad or Android tablets) out there that you could use to track range log data? Like keeps records for each firearm you are using?

  4. I keep several large binder clips (from office max) and zip ties in my shooting box – have used for hanging targets and clipping stuff to shooting mat on windy days and other uses. As handy as duck tape.

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