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Ten Range Bag Must-Haves


By Michael Wardlaw via

Don’t you hate it when you get to the ballgame only to learn you forgot the tickets? Nothing will ruin a session on the range more quickly than leaving something at home. A well thought-out range bag will go a long way toward an efficient, enjoyable session . . .

1. Hearing Protection

I don’t know if there is a gun range in the country that will allow you to shoot without hearing protection. I actually carry three forms of hearing protection in my bag; foam ear plugs, custom molded ear plugs and a set of Beretta earmuffs.

2. Eye Protection

Eye protection doesn’t have to be fancy, a cheap pair of wood working glasses can work. You can spend as much or as little as you want, but make sure this is in your bag. I have a set of Remington Shooting Glasses with interchangeable lenses for a variety of lightly conditions. I now wear a pair of Oakley Flak Jackets with prescription lenses. My eyesight isn’t bad, but the slight difference in vision has made a drastic improvement in my groupings.

3. Targets

I suggest carrying a variety of targets so that you can visualize different situations. Depending on the drill you are working on at the range, different targets can help.


4. Masking Tape

In order to save targets you can use masking tape to cover the holes from your previous round. This will help you keep your session straight by knowing exactly which shots landed where.

5. Markers, pins, stapler

I often will use a marker to divide a target into sections in order to work on certain aspects of shooting. And if you opt for an outdoor range you will likely need a method of posting your targets.

6. Ammunition

I guess this one goes without saying, but you will want to carry more ammunition than you plan on shooting in order to make sure you get your work in. On any given trip to the range I’ll have 400 rounds of 9mm. A typical session is only 250 rounds or so, but I bring more ammo in case I need to drill down a little deeper.

7. Spare magazines

In order to be as efficient as possible I suggest four or five magazines which will allow you stay focused on shooting and not reloading. This will also allow you to work on changing magazine in the flow of shooting.

8. Tools

Malfunctions happen and it is nice to have a few tools on hand to handle the simple things that could go wrong.

9. Gun Cleaning Kit

It is not often I will actually use a cleaning kit on the range, but it is nice to have along for the ride for those days when outdoors and the dust is swirling.

10. First Aid Kit

This falls under the better safe than sorry category, but I have a first aid kit with me almost always. You never know when the need may arise and while I’ve never had to use it, it is there just in case.

It goes without saying that many things could be added to your range bag based upon the type of shooting you will be doing and the location of the range. Most importantly, be safe and have a good time enjoying your Second Amendment Right.


  1. avatar CAG404 says:

    Yeah, I’ve gotten to the range before and realized I left all my magazines on my workbench. Pretty frustrating when you just set yourself up on the firing point, unloaded your gear and guns, and go looking for your magazines only to realize they are not there!

    1. avatar Sean says:

      I did that before a match once. Had everything in my bag, except magazines. Luckily, I was shooting a 1911. Shooting buddies all tossed me some extra mags to shoot the match.I had to buy a few drinks that days.

      1. avatar Scoutino says:

        This is exactly what happened to my shooting partner at match. Unfortunately he was the only one there with Walther P38 that day.

  2. avatar Gordon Wagner says:

    Some kind of hand cleanser or wipes when you’re ready to leave

    1. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

      I have a travel pack of wet butt wipes in my range bag. If I am shooting revolver they are an essential. I like to get in my car and eat lunch after sending 5 pounds of lead down range.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        I also keep baby wipes in all the rigs. But a friend turned me on to these

        Designed for removing lead and powder. They work really neat.

        1. avatar SF Jake says:

          Beat me to it! These make excellent hand wipes and also help out when cleaning up the reloading bench.

      2. avatar notalima says:

        Yes, baby wipes are a blessing for post-range activities. Always surprised to how much crud comes off the hands at the end of a range session.

    2. avatar Andy says:

      Very good advice! I started doing that when I started reloading. Burning Unique in a revolver can get messy after a while.

  3. avatar Governmentknowsbest says:

    It’s not in the bag but let’s not forget proper foot wear/clothing….I understand train how you fight but please save the flip-flops and board shorts for the real world DGU that I pray would never happen to you and yours.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Board shorts *are* daily wear for me carrying in the sub-tropics of central Florida in summer.

      1. avatar Governmentknowsbest says:

        I’m tracking bud put a little PPE goes a long way lol

    2. avatar Grindstone says:

      Also, for the ladies. Avoid the v-necks. My wife learned that the hard way. Which I happened to get on video.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Link? 🙂

  4. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    Good list.

    I recently added this nifty little tool to my range bag:

    Also, regarding hearing protection, having multiple options is ideal. Not only does it give you options depending on your range/shooting conditions, but also, it ensures you have something on hand for a guest/friend who may not have hearing protection. I carry my muffs, plus two different kinds of in-ear protection (the latter fit nicely into the end-cap pockets of my range bag). I might throw in some generic foam ear plugs, too.

    1. avatar Kris says:

      I always have plenty of extra foam plugs, enough to hand out if another shooter forgets his/hers.

    2. avatar PPGMD says:

      I think a better option is the Multitasker Series 3, it is a leatherman style tool with a number of tools that assist with maintaining an AR-15. But it has something that new other multitools have, a standard bit driver, which means in addition to the half a dozen provided bits (which include a AR front sight post tool) you can carry that one specific bit that your gun needs. For example S&W revolvers can use up to four different bits depending on the era and model.

      1. avatar Pascal says:

        Real Avid makes something like the Multitasker as well\

        I have and keep both tools in my bag

  5. avatar bobmcd says:

    Definitely agree with the first aid kit. And it’s not necessarily a gunshot wound kit, have a boo-boo kit, too. One time I got a trivial cut on my thumb from loading a pump shotgun at the range, and the distraction of getting small drops of blood all over my pockets drove me to total distraction. Ever since, my range bag has included a small first-aid kit with the usual band-aids and such. (One of these days I’m going to add that gunshot-wound kit to the bag as well, once I get done shopping for it.)

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Just this year, first shot with a new pistol, it is possible that I may have positioned my off hand somewhat incorrectly, but somehow I had a thumb bleeding like a stuck pig immediately thereafter. No first aid kit, fortunately had a towel, continued shooting using a different hold. Ached for a week. DUMB!

    2. avatar a7ropos says:

      No range bag is complete without a Quickclot Adventure Med Kit Trauma Pack.

      Sucking chest wounds would not be fun to deal with – especially if your medkit only has a couple band-aids and a roll of gauze.

      1. avatar JDayJDay says:

        Quickclot would kill someone if you put it on a sucking chest wound.

      2. avatar Swarf says:

        That and a couple of these:

        in addition to a minor wound first aid kit. That’s what I carry.

        Don’t forget a few pairs of nitrile gloves.

  6. avatar DougieR says:

    I’ve got a few more…

    – spotting scope or binoculars
    – Lula loader for your type of rifle mags. If you must reload, it can save a bunch of time.
    – range notebook
    – Gloves. Whether working with a suppressor of garand thumb, I’m starting to shoot more with them than without them.
    – bags, bipods, or sleds. Most ranges I’ve been to have atrocious shooting rests.
    – towel. Just cause…:)

    1. avatar JohnF says:

      + 1 on the loader. My worst pet peeve to forget. Manual loading wastes precious range time and does not assist with a focused mental attitude.

    2. avatar Cuteandfuzzybunnies says:

      You should always know where your towel is!

      1. avatar LongPurple says:


        “A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”

  7. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    This was a helpful article, and it reminded me that I’ve put off getting first aid certified for far too long, but I’m honestly much more interested in the story behind the gorgeous SVD or NDM-86 in the photo. That’s a very rare bird to find.

  8. avatar MurrDog says:

    Sunscreen and water.

  9. avatar Joseph Quixote says:

    A good hat on sunny days and a range finder and chrony if your working up new rounds.

  10. avatar Kris says:

    -cleaning rod to clear stuck shells the hard way

    I also purchase a lot of magazines and load them ahead of time. Instead of wasting valuable range time loading mags, I just grab another out of the bag.

  11. avatar jj says:

    I don’t suppose that anyone is as stupid as me, but make sure you bring the right kind of ammo, I was going to do some plinking with my .22 but found out I’d grabbed shorts instead of longs.

    1. avatar John L. says:

      I suspect some of the advice to bring preloaded magazines is at least in part to address this.

      For myself, ever since i reorganized the various of flavors of ammo we have, into well segregated and labeled bins, it hasnt been an issue.

    2. avatar 357M28 says:

      jj – I feel your pain. I once forgot my rifle.

  12. avatar Jay-El says:

    Hat with brim or bill to deflect brass

    Belt (my #1 forgotten item)

    Rake, square shovel and trash bags to leave the place cleaner than I found it


    Sharpie marker

    Colored duct tape for repairs and marking gear when you’re with friends

    Cash for the occasional friendly wager

  13. avatar Daniel in SC says:

    Depending on the range, I tend to keep A few grocery bags to pick up any trash and brass that’s around even if it isn’t mine…kinda harkens back to that saying “leave it better then you found it”

  14. avatar Ralph says:

    I always have those items and more in my range bag. And then I forget the range bag.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “I always have those items and more in my range bag. And then I forget the range bag.”

      I hates it when that happens…

      11 – Yours or a neighbor’s kid to hoof it downrange to change targets.

      (Why, yes! I’ll be happy to show them safe gun handling!)

    2. avatar Grindstone says:

      Mine carries my pistols, so if I forget that, then it just turns into a window-shopping trip.

  15. avatar The Wanderer says:

    I would add that all should have had a first aid course. I make my own trauma kit since the commercial kits always seem like they’ve thrown everything they can find in just to jack up the price. “Anti-fungal ointment” really?
    Also keep in mind that most trauma wounds are already contaminated.
    Medically there’s sterile, clean, and contaminated. Sterile bandages are great. Exam gloves are always labeled “clean,” and you can make clean bandages out of many things (yes tampons and kotex just removed from the wrapper are great).

  16. avatar Tominator says:

    I routinely bring a non-shooting friend/wife/grand children/neighbor or co-worker.

    Sorry, I’m a hardass!

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      You either have a really big range bag or really small neighbors.

  17. avatar Slovko says:

    True, a cheap pair of ANSI certified eye pro is certainly better than nothing, but for shooting purposes, I would instead recommend using eye wear that is milspec rated US MIL-DTL-43511D which can take significantly more abuse. Somewhat costly, but worth it compared to the cost of loosing or damaging an eye.

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      Rudy Project Noyz Impact Glasses — I have them in prescription and one of my local eye glass places is a Rudy dealer so I was able to walk in order what I needed and then pick them up in a few days.

      Will not use anything else.

  18. avatar I1uluz says:

    A small bottle of your favorite firearm lube. Met a few first time owners of an AR trying to run them dry. Nice way showing new owners that we look out for each other.

    Also something else to take, advice and help from fellow shooters. They may see something you can do to improve. One day saw 2 guys that didn’t want to accept the range master’s advice, he told them their scope was on backwards. They went into great detail why he was wrong, after a few more rounds, they realized he was right, gathered their stuff and left in a hurry. Had they accepted his observation he would have helped them turn it around and sight it in.

  19. avatar David P. says:

    Good list. On the mags I have mags for range only. Any mags that have hiccups go into the range bag to practice malfunction drills.

    To the cleaning kit I would recommend a cleaning rod for any stuck rounds. This is from experience- traveled to a good location to shoot with some friends and the first 22 brass got stuck in the chamber. Took 15 minutes to pry out with a knife and frustration I really never got over. A little lube in the chamber and it did okay.

    I would also recommend a shot timer but you can get apps for phones now.

    And last but not least is a couple clean towels. They can shade a barrel of hot, clean off water if wet, soft spot to rest a gun, wipe up sweat

  20. avatar David P. says:

    Good list but you missed a big one. A handful of clean towels. You can shade a barrel, dry a seat or bench, wipe off sweat, apply some lube, or apply some pressure if the unthinkable happens. I have even used them to write a couple notes on if I don’t have paper.

    If you are going to a public range don’t forget a blind mans walking pole. You get out with that and a pair of sunglasses on and grab a rifle and it is surprising how quick a busy range opens up. Okay maybe I am just kidding on that one 🙂

  21. avatar J. Zoss says:

    Good list and comments. Something less common I eventually added to my range bag check – when testing out a new drop in aftermarket part take the original part as well.

  22. avatar Del says:

    Spare key to your gun lock.

    I work at the local range….we cut locks.

    1. avatar CM says:

      couple hours practice and a set of Bogota lockpicks and you can pick most padlocks under 90 seconds. Masterlocks and manufacturer supplied cable style gun locks under 30 seconds. I carry a set in my wallet, had to pick my buddy’s lock on his guncase just last week.

  23. avatar Josh says:


    1. avatar TZH says:

      yep. coz running out of batteries in your shot timer or chrono really sucks!

  24. avatar TZH says:

    I practice at least 2x a week and I dig this post because you can’t forget the basics.

    here’s a few more:

    – drinking water, lots of it
    – shot timer
    – sun block or mosquito lotion
    – snacks
    – TP
    – hand sanitizer
    – face towel
    – spare eye and ear pro for the buddy you bring to the range impromptu
    – spare clothes (because a sweaty shirt won’t get you love when you get home)
    – a camera to document your drills, see where you need improvement, and to instragam the good stuff

  25. avatar TmDaddy says:

    I’m going to put this list all together, print and laminate it to attach to my range bag as a checklist. I’m going to call it “The Ranger range checklist as used by Delta and US Navy SEALs”, then sell it for $20 a pop!

    Seriously tho, double what you can so you have eyes, ears and sunscreen for your buddy who forgot his. Everyone chimed in with what I have except one: spray antiperspirant for your hands. I don’t train often with gloves because I don’t wear them in normal dress, but I do get slippery grips after a day in the sun. It becomes a safety issue when practicing draws.

  26. avatar tdiinva says:

    If you have to pay for range time or are going to your club don’t forget your wallet. I once drove all the way out to my gun club and forgot my wallet. No membership card, no drivers license and most important of all, no carry permit. A traffic stop would have been embarrassing.

  27. avatar Shawn says:

    NFA stamps

  28. avatar VSN says:

    I’ve done this, too. I did happen to have my driver’s license in my pocket, though.

  29. avatar Aerindel says:

    Caliber sized brass rod and hammer for clearing sqibs. Never leave home without it.

  30. avatar anonymoose says:

    I wear my regular day-to-day glasses and earplugs, usually. Also, I always wear a baseball hat (pretty much anything with a bill/brim will work).

  31. avatar Sock Monkey says:

    Those are all important things, but they won’t all be a must-have for all of us. Spare magazines are only a must-have, if you’re using a gun (or guns) with removable magazines. Targets and staples and such are not a must-have, if the range provides them, or if they won’t allow you to use your own. Ear and eye-pro are also provided free of charge, at a lot of ranges, so forgetting them may not be such a bad thing.

    Again, those are great things to keep in mind, but not all of us will really need those things.

  32. avatar Andy says:

    Don’t forget the revolver crowd– a passel of pre-loaded speedloaders is very handy.

  33. avatar LongPurple says:

    One additional item I find useful at the range is a small nylon mesh laundry bag, the kind that the wife uses to keep her fragile undies in when dumping them into the washer along with everything else.
    You can police your brass with it, then shake the bag to get most of the sand and dirt to fall through the holes, leaving much cleaner brass behind. The bag has practically no weight, and takes up very little space in my gun box.
    Don’t steal your wife’s stuff. Most supermarkets have them for a few bucks.

  34. avatar BLAMMO says:

    I don’t save targets from session to session. I go “paperless”. Take a snapshot of the target before I take it down.

  35. avatar vv ind says:

    Definitely bring water.
    Don’t forget the cell phone either

  36. avatar Alfonso A. Rodriguez says:

    I was a high power shooter and depended on a detailed list to go to the range since we have to carry so much crap. Same for small bore or pistol competition or just practice. The NRA sends a detail list along with the classification card. It has about 20 item listed on it. I use it all the time and even expanded and adapted it the list to include multiple situations. It is just like a list of check in the army used when deployed to the field. Do not depend on memory or a most important item is always forgotten, ie.: water, ammo, tools, eye/ear protection, optics, id in case of medical emergencies, medication (heart problems or diabetes come to mind specially for the 60+ crowd), cell phone etc, etc, et al. ad nauseam. Most people may think that forgetting something like ammunition is impossible but it happens if you are in a hurry. Most competitive shooters or serious practitioners depend on a good list even if it is memorized. I had a basic bag prepared to make it easier and I planned my visits to the range (still do). I do not to bother other shooters for small items like tools although I am asked all the time by others so I know most of the crap that is forgotten all the time. Always check it like a pre-flight check for pilots. It will save a lot of time and make your experience more pleasurable.

  37. avatar JSW says:

    Definitely have a check-list (and use it!). Nothing is more embarrassing than going to a shoot, getting signed in and readying for the line… only to discover you brought the wrong ammunition, or not enough of it (such as only one half-full box).

    Please, don’t ask how I know this is embarrassing.

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