There’s nothing like that first warmish, sunny day after a long, cold winter to make you want to run to the range and log a few hours of lead therapy. But if you’re like me, and live in the Northeast, those “warmish” temperatures can range anywhere from 20 to 70 degrees, with varying amounts of snow and rain mixed in. Depending on whether I’m sending rounds downrange trying to break in a new pistol acquired over the winter or shooting some defensive drills to sharpen my skills, there’s nothing like those cool, crisp first days of spring. When you get outside and into the sunshine, it makes all the winter dry fire practice worth it. I’ll admit, I’m pretty basic when I go to the range, regardless of the season. I usually have a limited amount of time, and pre-plan what I’ll be doing on a given day to maximize my time at the range. Because shooting outside in the early spring can be chilly, my range bag contains a few extra items that don’t make the cut in late August. Here’s what’s in my bag when I head to the outdoor range in the early New York spring: Midway USA Compact Competition Range Bag
Annette Doerr goes with the Midway USA Compact Competition Range Bag for her gear. mfg photo
I’ve used this bag for at least five years as my primary range bag. Don’t let the name fool you, there’s nothing “compact” about it. This bag has all the bells and whistles of a pricier bag, and it’s built to last. Pockets, zippers, compartments, this one has plenty, including fixed magazine carriers. It keeps me organized so I can grab what I need quickly and efficiently. MSRP: $40
Maglula UpLULA Pistol Magazine Loader
The Maglula UpLULA pistol magazine loader really saves your thumbs during those long range sessions. mfg photo
Why break your thumbs when the temperatures are hovering around freezing, or even when it’s not. This small piece of plastic is a game changer. Just buy one, your thumbs can thank me later. And because it works on calibers from 9 mm to .45, you’re covered no matter what you’re shooting! Mine is black, but it also comes in a bunch of colors if that’s your thing. MSRP: $29
The Bushnell engage 12x-50mm binoculars are a good choice for the range. mfg photo
I don’t usually tote a range finder with me each time I hit the range, especially if I’m only shooting pistol that day. I do always keep a small pair of binoculars in my bag. Mine are just cheap, compact Vanguard’s, but they’ve come in handy more than once to get a quick glance of my groupings.
A simple stapler is a range bag essential for any kind of shooting that requires paper targets. photo from amazon.com
Small and basic. Every bag needs a stapler to affix paper targets down range. MSRP: $9
Ducks Unlimited Eye Protection
Doerr goes with these shooting glasses from Ducks Unlimited with interchangeable colored lenses. mfg photo
I received this glasses kit as a Mother’s Day gift from my girls three years ago and they’re still going strong.
While you can get a basic pair of safety glasses pretty much anywhere these days, I strongly recommend getting a pair that are dedicated shooting glasses. Don’t let the low price fool you, these won’t disappoint. I struggled with my glasses fogging up for years, it doesn’t happen with these, and I love being able to change the color of my lens on the fly when conditions change at the range. MSRP: $24
Ear Pro – Walkers Game Alpha Power Muffs
Walkers Game Alpha Power Muffs are a great choice for over-ear hearing protection. mfg photo
I’ve struggled to find hearing protection that fit my head properly. After much trial and error with ears that didn’t seal on my apparently oddly shaped head, I’ve finally found what works for me! These electronic muffs are inexpensive and offer great noise reduction while allowing me to hear normal conversation or range instructions. MSRP: $45
Scarf / Shemagh
A shemagh is useful for keeping warm, but also has about a 1,000 other uses too. It’s always good to have one stuffed in your bag. photo from amazon.com
Regardless of the season, there’s always a Shemagh (also called a tactical scarf) in my bag. Early spring can mean chilly temperatures, being able to produce another layer to go around my head and neck can mean the difference between finishing what I intended to do at the range, or packing my bag and heading home early.
It stays in my bag year-round because it has about a million other uses, including an emergency tourniquet, sun shade, or a clean place to sit on, dust or rain cover etc. Inexpensive and extremely functional, they’re worth the small amount of space they’ll take up on the side of your range bag. MSRP: $15
It’s better to have an emergency tourniquet on hand and not need it, than to need one and not have it. Sound familiar? photo from amazon.com
Yes, I carry a tourniquet in my bag, and you should too, because things happen. Aside from having it handy, you should be trained in how and when to apply it. MSRP: $15 to $20+
NFused Field Kit
Hoppe’s Boresnakes are a great way to give your barrel a quick cleaning at the range, and even work well to do a deeper clean at home. mfg photo
Quick and efficient to run thru the barrel before I pack my pistol up to go home. A few quick passes and I’m good to go until I have time to field strip for a proper scrubbing. MSRP: $14
Kind of like a shemagh, there are endless uses for microfiber towels. photo from amazon.com
There’s a million uses for a microfiber towel, I usually use mine for wiping down my pistol when I’m done shooting.
Whether you need a screwdriver, flat head, or pliers, a good multi-tool is worth its weight in gold in your bag. I’m never without one.
Mechanix gloves are a great, affordable option for shooting gloves that offer a great balance of dexterity and protection. photo from amazon.com
Inexpensive, comfortable, mechanics/general purpose gloves make for good shooting gloves. The padded palm makes racking the slide easy and comfortable when your hands are cold. They’re thin enough for a good feel of the trigger, but offer decent protection from the weather. MSRP: $14.65