Range Bag Loadout: Hunting Rifles

Spring time means it’s time to get back out on the range to start sighting in our hunting rifles. Here's what you need at the range.

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or more range bag loadouts, go here. Spring time means it’s time to get back out on the range to start sighting in our hunting rifles. For my family, that can mean a trip to a few local shooting ranges that offer longer distance lanes and we also have some public lands where shooting is permitted. What I put in my range bag depends somewhat on if we’re heading to an actual shooting facility or out to public lands, but there’s a lot of commonality.

The gear Jodi Stemler packs when shooting hunting guns at the range.
The gear Jodi Stemler packs when shooting hunting guns at the range.author photo

The Bag

First, my range bag is a Beretta Waxwear Field Bag. This bag has plenty of room for everything I need to carry, plus it's well padded to protect my gear and the waxed cotton provides some protection in wet weather.

The Beretta Waxwear Field Bag is a great all-around range bag choice.
The Beretta Waxwear Field Bag is a great all-around range bag choice.mfg photo

This bag has lots of pockets, inside and out, and many of them are padded as well. This allows me to stash things in easily accessible places and store some things that I might not need as frequently.

Ammo

The author brings Federal’s Vital-Shok  and Fusion ammo to make sure the hunting rounds perform just as the target ammo once a rifle and scope are calibrated.
The author brings Federal’s Vital-Shok and Fusion ammo to make sure the hunting rounds perform just as the target ammo once a rifle and scope are calibrated.mfg photo

Obviously, I bring plenty of ammunition to sight in my rifles. I'll bring several boxes of lighter grain weight cartridges that won't recoil quite as much so they're easier on my shoulder when I'm going through a lot of rounds. Federal's Power-Shok line provides good accuracy, and it's also more moderately priced which is good if you might be going through a couple of boxes at a time! I also bring a couple of hunting load options, in this case Federal's Vital-Shok and Fusion, in order to make sure that my gun continues to shoot accurately with the round that I'll be taking in the field.

Targets and Staple Gun

Birchwood Casey's Pregame targets use photos of real animals with their vitals illustrated. The targets are also reactive, so you can see your hits clearly and easily from a distance.
Birchwood Casey's Pregame targets use photos of real animals with their vitals illustrated. The targets are also reactive, so you can see your hits clearly and easily from a distance.mfg photo

We always bring targets with us when we shoot, some ranges provide these for you but at our preferred range (and when we're shooting on public lands) it's BYOT – bring your own target. I like splatter targets because it's much easier to see where you're hitting from a distance. We also always bring some game targets because it makes it easier to visualize a hunting scenario. Birchwood Casey offers a lot of options, including their Pregame line of wildlife photo targets and their Dirty Bird splatter targets. Don't forgot to bring a good staple gun or tacks with you so that you can staple the targets to the target stands at the range (or a tree or cardboard box if shooting on public lands).

Marker and Spotting Scope / Binoculars

A pair of binoculars, like these Bushnell Elites, are crucial for checking your progress downrange.
A pair of binoculars, like these Bushnell Elites, are crucial for checking your progress downrange.mfg photo

If the targets don’t come with black dots to cover previous shots, bring a Sharpie pen to cross out old shots – that way you can tell if you’re making progress with your shoothttps://amzn.to/2KhUCETing adjustments. One thing that’s not in my range bag, but we always bring with us, is a quality spotting scope or binoculars so we can see where we shot and make adjustments without having to walk downrange.

Eye and Ear Protection

These Gatorz Magnum Z shooting glasses offer supreme protection and adjustability with a bendable aluminum frame.
These Gatorz Magnum Z shooting glasses offer supreme protection and adjustability with a bendable aluminum frame.mfg photo

Eye and ear protection is essential and often I'll bring backups just to make sure I have them on hand! Because we're shooting outside in Colorado, it's typically very bright so I use Gatorz Magnum Z shooting glasses. The polycarbonate lenses are ANSI Z87+ rated so they provide some of the best impact resistance possible and the dark grey color provides excellent UV protection.

The frames are made with aircraft aluminum so they are lightweight and fully adjustable so they are comfortable over a long day.

I bring my Beretta Off-Shot active hearing protection as well so that I can have a conversation with my shooting partner but also know that repetitive shots (from me and every other person at the range that day) is blocked.

Tools

The Real Avid’s 18-in-1 Gun Tool is a great addition to any range bag.
The Real Avid’s 18-in-1 Gun Tool is a great addition to any range bag.mfg photo

For other miscellaneous shooting accessories, I keep a few other items with me. Real Avid's 18-in-1 Gun Tool is specifically designed for shooters offering everything from a choke tube wrench (for when I'm shooting shotguns), a pin punch, a variety of size and shape wrenches, hex drivers with three sizes of hex bits, a pin punch and more. You never know when you might need some of these tools when you're on the range!

Shooting Bags

The author prefers Caldwell’s TackDriver Shooting Bags as rests for long guns at the range.
The author prefers Caldwell’s TackDriver Shooting Bags as rests for long guns at the range.mfg photo

We also bring Caldwell's TackDriver Shooting Bag – it doesn't fit into the range bag, but it's nice to have a steady rest for sighting in. Finally, I always carry a small flashlight like the Nite Ize Inova X2 LED. Flashlights are one of those things that you never think you're going to need, until you do, so it's easy enough to stash one in the bag.

Sunscreen and Lip Balm

During long shooting sessions in the sun, lip balm and sunscreen are essential.
During long shooting sessions in the sun, lip balm and sunscreen are essential.photo from amazon.com

After the shooting supplies, my range bag also includes some things to help keep me comfortable when at the range. In Colorado, we pretty much don't do anything outside for more than an hour without wearing sunscreen. I always pack extra in case I start to feel a burn starting. It's also typically warm, windy and dry so my lips often get chapped, so I stash Chapstick everywhere and make sure it's got some sun protection value.

Wet Weather Gear and Miscellany

Sitka’s new Vapor SD jacket is a great option for protection from wet weather.
Sitka’s new Vapor SD jacket is a great option for protection against wet weather when the skies open up.mfg photo

In spite of the "300 days of sunshine" reputation, Colorado weather can change really quickly so I carry a lightweight rain jacket in case I need to pack up quickly in a deluge. Sitka's new Vapor SD jacket is incredible – super packable with a new Gore-Tex Shakedry technology so it's 100% waterproof but you can just shake it dry (seriously!) and put it back in your bag when the downpour stops. I get hangry so snacks are a necessity – protein bars and jerky do the trick! And we never go anywhere without hand wipes and hands down Grime Boss makes the best wipes for when you know you'll be getting dirty.

We try to keep our range bag simple and efficient, with most of these things packed and ready to go for every shooting trip. If you know where your gear is every time, you can spend more of your time actually shooting on the range.