Hooray, it’s range time! No doubt, your your list of handgun accessories and range stuff to pack when you head out to your favorite shooting destination already includes firearm, eye and ear protection and targets, but you may be missing a few items that could help make your next range trip stress-free. These four items are all inexpensive, easy to pack, and they can quickly make the difference between a short and frustrating trip and a fun and relaxing day of shooting.
Whether you’re heading to the range for a quick sight-in trip, or you’re planning to make a full day out of it, here are four items that you should make sure you have packed in your range bag:
A Bag for Spent Shells or Brass
Being a polite and neighborly gun owner means picking up all of your spent brass or shells (don't be “that guy”), and having a place to put your empties makes your life much easier when it comes time to clean or repack your bag. It’s tempting to just toss the brass or shells back into your range bag, but sooner than later, you’ll have to take everything out of your bag to fish the empties out, along with the dirt, rocks and other muck you’ve deposited in your bag.
Almost any type of bag will do, it just needs to close securely and be able to handle a little bit of weight. Even plastic freezer bags will work, and you can toss a few of them in your shooting bag without taking up space.
A Squib Rod
If you’re not familiar with a “squib," it’s when the powder in a cartridge doesn’t ignite and the detonation of the primer causes the bullet to push forward just enough to get stuck in the barrel. A cartridge that was loaded without powder is almost always the cause, and while it’s much more common with reloaded ammo, it can happen with factory rounds.
A squib one of the quickest ways to cut a range trip short, but if you have a squib rod, you’ll very likely be back to shooting in just a few minutes. Squib rods can be purchased, or you can pack a brass rod or wood dowel that’s a little longer than your barrel. Cleaning rods can sometimes work in a pinch, just make sure whatever you’re using won’t damage your barrel and can stand up to the force required to push the bullet out of the barrel.
That’s right, snacks. A protein bar or a couple handfuls of trail mix and a piece of fruit can not only extend your range time, but it can make a big difference in your shooting performance. Shooting requires the use of fine motor skills and low glucose levels have a profound effect on cognitive functions. In English, that means that when you’re missing your shot and can’t figure out why, it might be your body telling you that it’s low on fuel.
A Magazine Speed Loader
Speed magazine reloaders are one of the best inventions since sliced bread and they are a range bag must for anyone taking a pistol to the range. Speed reloaders, like this one, allow you to spend significantly more time shooting because you’re spending much less time reloading. Not only will they save you time, but they’ll also save your fingers and hands from the soreness that reloading magazines can cause. Anyone who has taken a shooting class or participated in an extended range session has felt the finger and hand pain that’s a result of repetitive magazine reloads, and speed reloaders can keep that pain to a minimum. Shooters with reduced hand strength can also benefit greatly by keeping a speed reloader handy, as they take a lot of strain off the hands when reloading magazines.
All of these essential items easy and simple to gather, so it shouldn't take much time at all to gather them up and make sure they make it into your range bag before your next outing. While none of these items can guarantee you have your sights lined up correctly, they all reduce some of the stress and hassle that can creep up on you at the range. And, when you’re feeling good and your equipment is running well, you’ll be shooting at your best and having lots of fun doing it.