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Two of the Author's Big Bore Lever Actions at the Range

Two of the Author's Big Bore Lever Actions at the Range


Gearing up for the Range

by Scott Crawford - July 09, 2021

I don't care who you are, we have all arrived at the range and forgot something. It may have only happened once to you however it does happen. Gearing up for the range doesn't have to be difficult, in fact after you've been once you probably keep gear stored ready for the next trip. That sounds simple and like a great plan so let's look at what we should be taking.

I've developed a list of range gear that you can use as a primer however every shooting experience requires a "tweak" based on the type of shooting you'll be doing. For instance, if I'm shooting at an indoor range I won't need to bring a spotting scope with me however if I'm shooting over 100 yards on an outdoor range I'm going to want one. That is of course if the range doesn't have "Live Target images" providing visual feedback such as the CMP TALLADEGA MARKSMANSHIP PARK.

After you acquire your range gear you'll need to pick up cases / bags to carry your gear. For a quick hand gun range visit I may only need to carry my Midway USA range bag. It has room for handguns, ammo, screw drivers, allen keys, glasses, hearing protection you name it. I find that it's almost the perfect standalone bag for handgun shooting. I might add that this range bag goes with me on every range trip.

Other cases / boxes get added based on what I'll be doing beyond shooting handguns. For instance I carry a lot of extra ammo in plastic cases if I'll be making a day of it. I also take hand operated reloading tools, dies, powder, bullets, primers & brass along with battery operated scales, etc. in a wooden range box. This box doesn't make every range trip but it is always loaded and ready. I even pre-charge powder into plastic test tubes so I can load without having to meter or measure the powder! This method is often used for pre-measured "ladder loads" to find just the right charge for best accuracy.

The author's Partial Range Gear Case

Part of the Author's Range Gear

I also like to carry a soft rolled up grilling mat for my shooting surface. I just roll it out on the range bench to keep from scratching my firearms. Keep in mind some range benches are rough concrete or some other surface I'd prefer to not place my firearms on.

I wanted to mention that I carry a 1st aid kit in my range bag. Another reason this bag travels to all ranges with me. If you're at an indoor range, chances are they have 1st aid kits available if needed. Most of the shooting I do is outdoors and often times not at a commercial range so I make sure a kit is with me.

---- Find a Range Near You ----

Find a Range Near You

Range Day Gear on the Bench

Range Day Gear on the Bench

Let's talk about other gear that you might need at a range. Since I mentioned that the majority of my shooting is done outdoors, many ranges don't provide targets or target stands so I have a target stand that I can place in the ground and it supports a wood frame target frame. I staple my paper targets to the backboard of this stand so make sure you take a staple gun or at a minimum some good tape, oh and targets.

I've also mentioned a spotting scope however not everyone can afford one of these so at a minimum a pair of binoculars would work well. Tools are a must as well unless you want your day to be shortened by things going out of adjustment such as a scope ring loosening up or brass separating and leaving half a case inside the chamber. For this I carry wooden dowels that I can remove a case separation if required. It's only happened a couple times however your day is over if you can't remove it on the spot.

I also will carry a small cooler with cold drinks or in the winter time a thermos with some hot coffee. That and some snacks or sack lunch.

A group pic of Range Gear the Author uses

A group pic of Range Gear the Author uses

Now some more about hearing and eye protection. 1st time range visitors will be apprised that they must use both however the consequences for not using this safety equipment need to be reinforced. The obvious loss of an eye makes a lot of sense to everyone but the hearing loss maybe overlooked. While we consider loud noise as a pain, it really can cause immediate, long lasting hearing loss that you can't get back.

I'm attaching a pdf that better describes the impacts however I wanted to dwell just a bit here on it. Keep in mind that conversational speech is approximately 60-65 db, and the threshold of pain is considered to be 140 db. Almost every type of firearm is well above the 140 db unless it is using a suppressor to muffle the sound. Today's suppressors can reduce anywhere between 14.3 - 43 db in sound from the same firearm without a suppressor. Something to consider, especially shooting indoors.

A Nice Wooden Range Box with Reloading Supplies

A Nice Wooden Range Box with Reloading Supplies

Additional items I carry in my range bag:

  • Varying sizes of Bore Snakes to clean barrels after shooting
  • Soft cleaning rags for metal parts to be wiped down
  • Lens cloth / wipes for scopes and other optics
  • Pens for documenting results & sharpies for target annotation
  • Backup hearing protection
  • Backup eye protection
  • Chamber flags
  • Binoculars & spotting scope
  • Pliers / Wrenches
  • Notebooks
  • Extra targets
  • Extra staples & tape
  • Weather meter
  • Camera
  • Gun oil
  • Advil

Take a Pen and Document your Results
Take a Pen and Document your Results

So to recap, first thing is first - always approach safety gear as a mandatory item (Hearing & Eye Protection). Don't head to the range without either. Secondly don't forget your guns and the correct ammo. Everything else is just nice to have!

I hope this Bullet Points blog gives you some insight into what I carry and use at the range and prepares any first time visitors to a decent starting list. And if you haven't been yet and have questions, feel free to comment on this story for feedback and pointers to get you started.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize, Stay Safe and Have Fun While at the Range
Keep Your Eye on the Prize, Stay Safe and Have Fun While at the Range

CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park MidwayUSA Grace USA Tools Caldwell Shooting Supplies National Shooting Sports Foundation


Shooting Range, Target Shooting, Rifle Range, Hearing Protection

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