Not gonna lie—my range bag is heavy. It carries a plethora of stuff so I can be ready for whatever comes the way of me or my students on any given range day. What’s in there depends to some degree, of course, on the day’s plans. A few items are always in there, aside from the obvious eye/ear protection, ammo, and emergency medical equipment. These four items have proven their value, in some cases dozens of times, so it seemed worth sharing. They are, in no particular order:
- a Sharpie marker. The Sharpie is great for marking hits on target between drills. Doing so milks maximum value from targets, especially paper ones, as you can see clearly the point of impact of old versus new shot groups. Of course you can draw more bullseyes (or gophers or what have you) on the whitespace, if there is any, of shot-up primary targets. It’s great for keeping score on a quick match with friends, for marking water bottles to avoid sharing spit with those friends, and for marking problem or otherwise special magazines—although the ink doesn’t stay around long on mags. Sharpies write in all but the wettest of conditions and last longer than other brands of marker. I keep a primary and a backup in the range bag; one rides in my pocket for convenience on the range.
- a roll of cloth tape. Seriously. The kind from the drugstore for about two bucks per roll. This stuff has saved my day, and the day of many students and range pals, more times than I can say. It holds a band-aid on (dang things won’t stick by themselves, even doubled, when shooting). It serves as a temporary bandage for blisters and minor cuts. Wrapped figure-eight style between and around the thumb and forefinger of the shooting hand, it protects from the gnawing damage a 1911 grip safety can inflict after long days of shooting, or from other effects of traction-heavy grips on non-callused hands. Unlike gloves, it does all this without interfering in any way with safety, handing, or trigger use. Get some.
- a spare recoil spring. With sufficient use, the recoil spring of any semi-auto will weaken to the extent that the even the most dependable weapon begins to show failures to feed. A spare recoil spring can save the day. For the price of about two boxes of ammunition for most semi-auto handguns, there really is no reason not to have a spare for your most-used firearms. I’ve heard it said that an early sign of a worn-out spring is when brass begins to eject rearward, bouncing off the shooter’s forehead more often than not. But that can also be a sign of an insufficiently rigid grip on the shooter’s part, so be careful making assumptions based on forehead/brass contact alone.
- a shemagh. Oh my gosh, what did the shooting world do without these things? For $10-15 from your favorite shooting supplier, you can have a warm, handsome scarf that looks great on a man or woman, a temporary satchel for picking up brass (insufferable schoolmarm note: wash it after using for that purpose), a little shade for the vehicle when hung over a window, a makeshift pressure bandage, and….well, your imagination is the limit. If there’s one in your range bag, you’ll surely find your own list of uses.
These four low-cost gadgets have added value to my range days by being immediately useful and lending peace of mind. What are your can’t-do-without range bag goodies? Let us know in the comments below, then make sure you like our Facebook page.