Things we love: repetition of an idea in threes, montages, makeshift jery-rigged can-do. Things we hate: failure, being unprepared.
If you want to get better at a skill you need to practice practice practice. However, if you go to the range without proper shooting supplies, you’re handicapping your growth.
While it might be great to see Rocky smack around a side of beef instead of a punching bac, building tools out of sticks and rocks on the range isn’t in your best interest. Though, in the field, in a pinch, knowing how gear is supposed to work helps you in that creative endeavor.
That preamble complete, read on to learn more about what shooting range gear you need to master the art of the shot.
Basic Shooting Supplies
This list identifies and lays out information about two groups of equipment. The first group includes essential basics that everyone should have. The second group is for more dedicated sportsmen and enthusiasts looking to up their game.
Each item provides an overview without recommending specific equipment brands and models. Finding the right version of each item is left to individual reviews.
This includes protection for the ears, eyes, and general safety of all shooters at the range. Before you pick up a firearm it’s essential to know your gun safety procedures and read posted rules at the range.
For eye protection, you are looking for glasses and goggles that provide a wide field of view so you can see the position of other shooters at the periphery. Glasses should be made of durable crack and break-resistant material. The idea is to avoid taking brass and metal shards to the eye.
Ear protection is next. For light sessions where a few rounds are fired, earplugs will do. For more intense interactions and those looking to practice frequently, ear muffs offer better protection ratings and are reusable.
One of the most common injuries experienced by long-time sports shooters is tinnitus. Hunters tend to fire few shots in open conditions but sports shooters operate indoors while firing multiple rounds.
Another essential for any range bag is a basic first aid kit. You want to be able to take care of any injuries that arise quickly. Having a first aid kit in the bag also provides more safety for your home and vehicle.
This one gets overlooked often. You don’t need an entire toolbox but a kit that covers the basics of your optics and firearms is a boon when practicing. If you need to make an adjustment, it’s better to have the gear on-hand than to ‘remember to do it later’.
This includes any of the siting elements you might use. For hunting rifles and long-range guns, scopes are standard and need to be mounted properly and adjusted for maximum effect.
For sidearms and other firearms, optics take the form of ring sites, lasers, and combat sites which also need to be mounted and adjusted but are easier to test.
Different optics work for different situations. Check out these tips for ideas on selecting and working with optics.
Hard to do much practicing at the range without ammo.
Some argue that working with lower-cost ‘practice’ and ‘target’ rounds is the way to go. Others point out that practicing with anything but the setup you intend to use down to the weather leaves too much room for variation.
Depending on the range, you may need to supply your own targets. With the many varieties out there today, and the technology, you’ll find a robust selection that enhances practice.
If you’ve not hit a range before or are heading to an outdoor rifle range, always pack a few paper and standing targets to make certain you don’t waste a trip.
There are a variety of firearm accessories that make a day at the range easier and practice more enjoyable.
Ammo belts, magazine pouches, speed loader belts, and more provide ways to practice rapid and mobile reloading. Different holsters allow for quicker access or more concealment, practicing a draw can also be important.
Brass catchers make for easier cleanup after a session.
Shooting mats, tripods, and bench rigs all help stabilize shots for rifle testing.
A quality range bag provides durability and sized compartments that make accessing gear easy. Look for something that holds what you need all-in-one.
If you tend to practice rifles and pistols on different days, or at different ranges, specializing bags to those categories is ideal to lower your overall load.
Advanced Shooting Range Equipment
This second category covers higher-end and niche equipment needed to improve precision shooting accuracy. Most of this applies only to rifles that will be firing beyond 200 yards where minute changes start to add inches to the strike on a target.
A chronograph is a barrel-mounted device or a rig that you fire through. It measures the velocity of rounds leaving the barrel. This is excellent for testing hand-loads and determining calculations for gravity drop and wind resistance.
Working with a spotting scope is faster when done with a partner but is usable solo. A spotting scope provides calibrated magnification to zoom in on a target and see where you’re hitting without moving a rifle.
It’s hard to tell if your scope is off using only your scope, after all.
Most rangefinders these days are laser-powered. At one point range finding was about knowing the size of an object and calculating its dimensions through a scope reticle.
A laser rangefinder takes the guesswork out of this and provides an accurate reading of distance in an instant.
A stable bench mount makes it much easier to zero in the adjustments on your optics.
For automatics, the ‘lead sled’ provides a stable cushion to reduce recoil while testing ammo and accessory configurations without wearing out your shoulder.
There you have it, a comprehensive overview of shooting supplies that will benefit you at the range.
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