What is in YOUR range bag? We go through ours

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While updating the contents of my range bag last week, I took a mini-inventory of its labyrinth contents. Now my grandmother was something of a hoarder when it came to her giant purses back in the day. She had something for every occasion. After growing up as a kid in central Europe during WWII, you can guess why. Well, in retrospect, I am my grandmother's grandson when you look at my range bag

In my defense, I have been shooting for over twenty years. Have been an NRA certified instructor in many disciplines for most of that time, and spend what could be considered a lot of time compared to the average person on the range. About once every few weeks I will go through my bag, take out the remnants of the latest ranges (spent brass, scratched safety glasses, sunflower seed packages, etc.), and evaluate anything I think I need to add.

This week I photographed what I found after discarding the pile of trash and junk inevitable accumulates.

Here we see the bag full. While many argue that they use a xyz brand named bag, for me I just grabbed one that met my requirements.

A: Big enough to put all my junk in, while not needing a handcart to push around
B. Plenty of big and durable external pockets (you will see why)

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This particular bag cost me around $25 at a big box sporting goods chain. Yes, I try to support my local guys and normally do on gun sales even if they are more expensive, but the big box just had a better inventory on bags. Attached to the outside you see a well-used golf towel, some police duty belt-keepers (I train law enforcement often and these are always in need on the range) and a large binder clip for keeping paperwork and targets from flying away. There is also a pretty stout carabineer there that has come in handy as well as handing from the back left hand corner, about 30 feet of paracord tied and used as a sipper pull. And yes, that has come in handy too.

Cracking it open, you see a few pairs of earpro.

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I've used the more expensive sordins and pelitors in the past but advocate just about anything that is especially made for shooting-- and having multiple pairs of them. Its better to have 2-3 pairs of inexpensive muffs than just one set of nice ones that can get broken, lost or stuck to someone's hands. To augment this, I always carry a good amount of foamies, seen right, just in case those around me need to earpro and don't have any. I also have several sets of eyepro that I forgot to take a picture of. Hey, nobody is perfect.

Next, we have our general range gear.

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A couple pair of staple guns (remember, don't play around with these, they are always loaded!). General markers pens, etc. in different colors to mark new and old holes on targets. A Super Leatherman for those, "man, does anyone have a pocket knife/screwdriver" moments. When not in use, the staplers/Leatherman ride in the big external pocket while the pens etc. sit, cap up, in one of the small side pockets.

For those just in case moments you have...

First aid/response gear

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You see a Strike Alert lightning detector first (the beeper thing). If you are anywhere it rains and you are shooting outside, you need a lighting detector guys. They cost about $50 and will alert you to strikes as far out as 40 miles away.

Next, there is a Raptor IV constricting band. These are used to hold IV tubes next to someone to keep the tubing from coming out. You can also use them as needed to some extent as a tourniquet should you need to.* Then we have a variety of field dressings and bandages sealed and ready to go. Some Benadryl for bug bites. Over the counter pain killer and boo-boo bandages (fear the staple gun). At the top is some high SPF sunblock. Don't be too shy about this stuff guys. Skin cancer sucks. All of this sits in its own outside zipper pocket of the bag.

* Now, on first aid and the range. I have been through dozens of combat lifesaver classes, buddy care classes, EMT basic, et al and teach Red Cross Health and Safety classes for CPR/1st aid, AED and as doing so, I carry a lot of stuff with me. Besides this basic stuff in my range bag, I also have a separate medic bag with fluids, GSW kits, and other goodies that I hope will never be used.

If you have a gun and go to the range, you need some sort of at least basic first aid supplies and training. Take a first aid course, a cpr course, and look for those other classes if you like that initial taste. Also, remember that if you pack a tourniquet, you need to know how to use it, and more importantly, when not to use it. The first thing that trained medical personnel will tell you is that they only attempt a tourniquet when all other means of stopping blood loss (apply direct pressure, elevate the injury, use pressure points) have failed.

You can cause permanent tissue damage, loss, or even death with the improper use of a tourniquet. However, if you shoot at a range 20 miles down a logging road and something goes south, you may want to get some decent medical training to include the use of tourniquets as they may save your life.

This video is not a substitute for training, but gives you an idea of how to pack, deploy, and employ a SOF Tactical Wide tourniquet. These run about $20.

Video by ITS Tactical and Lone Star Medics

The basic cleaning kit.

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Packed inside the tool bag on the left are a pack of patches, a silicone rag, some CLP spray and wipes ( I use Ballistol, not an endorsement, just what I like), an Otis Ripcord pull through barrel cleaner, a steel cleaning rod, a polymer cleaning rod, numerous polymer and brass brushes of different sizes/texture. And yes, on the right, are old dirty socks. Don't laugh, they work great for cleaning.

This all fits in the tool bag and provides me with the basics of being able to strip guns in the field and bring them home semi-clean. I also as an instructor find myself constantly on the range with officers, civilians, and joes who have brought filthy weapons to class that jam solid every other round. Hence the gear. Note, I also have a long rifle rod in my jeep that's not in the bag. Not pictured is an Outers cleaning kit with about twenty other brush and patch tips and a longer pull through.

Misc range gear

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I always pack at least one pair of extra, clean socks. Nothing worse than getting your feet nice and wet at 6am and having to stand around until dark. Hence, the spare socks. Then there is a basic timer and whistle for course of fire and a spare hat. As most of my ranges occur in the southeast where daytime temps are in the 80s-90s for about 9 months a year, I tend to go with more breathable designs that still keep the brass and sun off my scalp and face. Not shown is about a half roll of toilet paper, you guys know what that looks like and what it does. If you don't, then ask someone.


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In the end, we have a bag that weighs some 16-pounds fully loaded with all of the above. It's about 18x10x8 inches and works for me. Most items you can see the use for and have probably already started carrying. Some that you may not have thought about, you may start carrying. For some shooters this may be a little overboard. That's fine. This is just what I like to have with me just in case.

Moreover, I think my grandmother would nod her head and agree.

What do you have in YOUR bag that we didn't cover? Let us know in the comments below.

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August 17, 2014  •  11:54 AM
Great article!
August 18, 2014  •  05:57 PM
I have a roll of 1/2 inch wide masking tape and some of those springy paper clips for holding targets on the trolley as I usually go to indoor ranges.
August 28, 2014  •  01:57 AM
Great Article Chris! My Bag and Range box are Similar. Tools and Cleaning go in the range Box, Ammo in Ammo can(s), and the Guns, EarPro, and Gloves, as well as foamy Plugs, go in the Bag(s). I have a separate Medical Bag that is always in the Suv when we are Shooting outside. My Medical Kit ran me around $350 to put together, with about $100 of that on the Bag...