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What to Pack for the Shooting Range: A Beginner's Guide

There are a few essentials every range bag should include.

By the time a new gun owner has found their way to the firing line at the local shooting range for the first time, they've already cleared a lot of hurdles. Knowing exactly what to bring in their range bag probably wasn't something that occurred to them.

Most shooters build out their range bag kit over time based on experiences, and other shooters have distinctly different range bags and gear for different types of shooting.

Here are the most basic important items that every range bag should include:

Ear Protection

It's essential that you protect your hearing at the range. The sound of gunshots is loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage.

Outside, foam ear plugs can be adequate, but shooting at an indoor range or even at an outdoor range under a roof will necessitate heavier hearing protection like fitted earplugs, over-the-ear muffs, or a combination of foam ear plugs and muffs.

Electronic earmuffs offer excellent hearing protection while also allowing you to hear most non-shooting sounds in your environment.

Eye Protection

You should never shoot any firearm at the gun range without eye protection.

Even the most basic clear plastic shooting glasses will offer a great deal of protection, but use eye protection that you will be comfortable wearing for long shooting sessions.

Cleaning Kit

You might not be actually "cleaning" your firearm at the range, but you might need pieces of the kit if something goes wrong, like pushing a squib or other obstruction out of a barrel with a cleaning rod. It's rare, but it happens.

Make sure you have a kit that's appropriate for a rifle if you're shooting a rifle, or a handgun if you're shooting a handgun, etc.

Cleaning Supplies

It's always a good idea to have a small bottle of solvent or gun cleaner of your choice and a small bottle of lubricant or gun oil.

Extra Batteries

Always bring along extra batteries or a charging pack for any gear that needs power.

First Aid Kit

Whether it's a basic IFAK or a more complex multi-person kit, every range bag should always have a first aid kit of some kind in it that includes a tourniquet at minimum.


Sure you may only use the screwdrivers on it, but hey, that one time you need the pliers to extract a stuck casing, you'll be glad you have it.

Staple Gun

You always need a staple gun for targets, nobody ever has one. Remember, it needs ammo too, so be sure to keep a couple extra packs of staples with it.

Paper Targets

Some ranges sells them, some don't, and if you're using a public range, you'll most definitely need to bring your own and likely something to hang it on. Make sure you find out ahead of time.

Something to Carry Ammo

You might not think about this, but ammunition can get heavy. Don't rely on the plastic bag from the store where you bought it. If you're stashing ammo in your range bag, make sure its straps and bottom can handle the weight (and make sure it's legal where you live to transport the ammo in the same bag as the firearm if you have your pistol case in the range bag as well).

Those are the barest essentials of shooting gear for a safe and comfortable day at the range.

Of course, your range gear will change here and there. If you know you'll be shooting long range, you or someone in your group if you have one has to bring a spotting scope and a tripod.

If you're going to be sighting in a rifle for the first time, you'll need the right targets, shooting bags or a sled, and a level to make sure you're hanging the targets straight. Also, a rangefinder is always good to have along for precision and for practice.

If you'll be doing a lot of handgun shooting or using higher-capacity magazines, you'll want to bring the appropriate speed loader device along so you don't spend half your range time tearing up your thumb reloading mags by hand.

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