AIMPOINT TRAINING - RANGE PREP, PART 2: ESSENTIALS
The second part of our Range Prep series is all about your range bag. (Check out Part 1: Safety if you missed it.) This isn’t groundbreaking information, but it certainly deserves to be discussed. A well-appointed range bag will accomplish something we are very fond of talking about here: reducing the requirement of thinking in the moment.
First, let’s make an argument for having a dedicated bag at all. The most obvious reason is that we have a lot to carry, and a bag helps but that isn’t the most important benefit. A bag lets us collect and store… forethought. It’s the principal tool in combatting the “I can’t believe I forgot…” or “I wish I had…” sentences that so often plague busy people.
A dedicated range bag lets us think about all that we may need, all that we have been without in the past, and fix the problems before they happen again. This is where we collect and keep those answers so when we are running out of the house to train, we are relieved of the responsibility of remembering every vital thing. That’s valuable.
What to Keep in Your Range Bag
Everyone’s range bag should be a little different. We shoot different ways, have different guns, different ranges, etc. There will be many different requirements. The trick is taking the time to be thoughtful about the inventory we build and maintain. This should be the Mary Poppins (apologies) bag of answers for us specifically. That means there isn’t one single list (even though one’s provided at the end of this article).
Start by breaking your needs down into categories: Safety, Ammunition, Gun, Target, and so on. Once you do that, break those down into questions. Here is an example:
Target, what targets do I need/want? Are they effective toward my goals? How many do I normally consume? How many should I keep on hand? How will I attach them to the backers? Do I need something to mark hits? Are there restrictions at my range?
You can get as detailed as you want in developing these questions (and answers). In the end it just makes you more prepared.
Maintenance and Inventory
A well-stocked range bag needs to be maintained to keep that title. A best practice is to establish an inventory to include a minimum stocking number. This sounds like a lot for something as simple as a range bag but either you are Mary Poppins… or you aren’t (more apologies). I go through my range bag after every class and measure what’s on-hand with our minimums. It also serves as a good opportunity to take a look at the items in the bag that may not get touched very often.
If you are in the habit of keeping a small snack in your bag (lunch isn’t always guaranteed), it pays to take a glance at the “use by” dates occasionally. Ask me how I know.
Each bag will be different because of the differing conditions each shooter will find themselves in routinely. What’s compiled here is a list of suggested items. It isn’t exhaustive and it may not fit your needs exactly, but it’s a start:
- Ear pro (hearing protection)- 2 sets of electronic and a Ziplock bag of “foamies”
- Eye Pro (glasses)- 2 sets, both with various lenses (to include clear)
- IFAK (Individual first aid kit)- This is a trauma specific kit.
- Tourniquet (body worn)- in addition to the IFAK.
- “Band-Aid” kit (non-emergency medical)- For small cuts and headaches on the range.
- Gloves (shooting)- Even if you don’t use them often, they are good to have around for a variety of reasons. Cleaning, removing staples… etc.
- Hat (Aimpoint branded Hats, of course)- Because they are always good to have.
- Battery kit (universal)- This kit contains multiple copies of batteries for all associated range equipment.
- Ammunition- this is trip specific, but keep a box (or two) of the most common calibers in the bag. For me, that means 9mm and 5.56. It’s easy and has saved the day a few times.
- Gun cleaning kit and tools (Universal)- This should also contain gun oil. Save the day before you need to.
- Stapler- The simplest you can find.
- Staples- 2 boxes, matched to the stapler (ask me how I know…again).
- Spray glue- 1 can. You can’t use it everywhere but when you can, it really is much easier.
- Binoculars- This is, of course, very range specific. I keep a little 8x32 set in the bag. They are light but do the job when required.
- Parts bag (weapon specific)- This is another item that applies to the guns I most often have at the range. Do your homework. Source the most consumable parts and keep them handy.
- Snacks and water- I’m not going to tell you how to eat, but keep a few bars and bottles of water on hand.
- Lead off wipes- Take the time to remove anything that may have been deposited on you while training. It’s healthy and thoughtful.
- Notebook- Keep track of your performance, round count, cleaning interval, ideas… you name it.
There is no right or wrong answer in this. What works for you is what makes your range day go off without a hitch and gives you the confidence that you have the answer in the bag.
That’s our list, what’s in yours?
Until next time, train smart.
Duane “Buck” Buckner
After spending 25 years in the USCG, Duane “Buck” Buckner is now the U.S. Director of Training for Aimpoint. The Aimpoint Training Division conducts training courses for military and law enforcement agencies up to the Federal level as well as for the prepared civilian. Buck is widely known for his emphasis on brain psychology as it relates to combat and survival.
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Posted by Duane Buckner, Aimpoint US Director of Training on Nov 8th 2022