Like pretty much everyone who reads TTAG, I like to shoot. I like to head to the range, and I find no better way to waste time and money than by turning it into noise.
With that said, I also like to try and train while I’m at the range. Test my skills a bit rather than just mag dump into the trash. I try to have a lesson plan ready when I head to the range to know what I’ll be working on. For that reason, the Range Buddy app seemed to be an excellent tool.
The Range Buddy app was created by a shooter and designed for shooters. I found it after he posted it to a social media page I follow. The app itself is free, and months ago, when I downloaded it, all of the content on the app was free. This remains the case in September, 2023.
You can choose to pay for a premium version, which removes the part of the app where it asks for money. I happily paid for the app and was willing to support a 2A supporter and fellow shooter.
What Does the Range Buddy Do?
The Range Buddy app is basically a digital book of drills and qualifications that you can do at the range. Having it on my phone makes it extremely convenient to reference while at the range. I don’t want to dig through pistol-training.com to find the right drill when I’m at the range (RIP Todd). The Range Buddy app is an expansive list of drills and a few police quals that seem to be slowly expanding.
Range Buddy separates the drills in a few different ways. You can choose drills by difficulty level or by target type. The Range Buddy has drills for all kinds of targets. This includes USPSA/IDPA, Steel targets, B8s, homemade targets, multiple target drills, and law enforcement targets. Finally, there is even a printable targets tab, and the app links to those so you can print them and do the particular drill.
They’ve even added a highly customizable command trainer. Shooters can print a command target made up of numerous shapes that feature numbers and colors. A series of menus allows you to customize exactly what commands are used, how many commands are used, the time allowed between shots, and even more.
The Value of the Range Buddy
The first factor here is convenience. It’s on my phone, in my pocket, and at the range with me. It’s easy to access immediately and the layout on the phone is fairly nice. Everything is big and very easy to read. The drills are broken down in an easy-to-understand layout with a very friendly user interface.
The Range Buddy app provides you with the range, par time, ammo count, and distance required. We get a skill worked section that gives you an idea of what you are working on. Following that, we get the general details of the drill, followed by the stage setup, the requirements, and then the course of fire. It’s logically laid out and makes sense.
The split between the different difficulty levels will certainly help new shooters decide how to train. They’re given immediate and easy-to-understand standards. This allows you to track your progress and see how you’re improving.
The Range Buddy also addresses a wide variety of target and drill types, making it easy to find what works for your current situation. You can even post your scores and photos to compete with other users, although that doesn’t seem to be widely used by other folks.
I’ve only used the Virtual Instructor a few times, but it’s fun. If you have the imagination for it, you can make this out to be both valuable training and a fun way to spend some ammo. It’s quite intuitive, and you have a lot of customization options. Plus, it works great for dry fire.
The first time I downloaded the app and paid for it, the ads asking for a donation didn’t go away, but that was quickly fixed. As of right now, the app doesn’t crash, doesn’t eat much space on your phone, and is very intuitive. The only bug I’ve found comes with the Virtual Instructor. If you leave it running and minimize the app, it won’t stop running. Pressing the stop button didn’t work. I had to completely close the app to make it stop.
Other than that, the Range Buddy is very solid and easy to use. I use it fairly often, especially if I’m testing a gun and need creative ways to expend ammunition. The drills are oriented around pistols, and while many can be adapted to rifles, it doesn’t really support other platforms. I’d love to see rifle and shotgun-specific drills added.
For what amounts to a free app, the Range Buddy is an outstanding tool for spending some time at the range.