Range Bag Loadouts: Skeet Shooting and Sporting Clays

There are specific aspects to shooting skeet and trap that require a few pieces of specialized gear. Here's what you need.

The author's loadout for skeet and clay shooting.
The author's loadout for skeet and clay shooting.author photo

For me, a trip to the range means trap, skeet and/or sporting clays, plus the possibility of doing some pattern testing. I’ve had the Wild Hare Sporting Clays bag forever, and it holds everything I need and has a shoulder strap for packing around the sporting clays course.

The author prefers the Wild Hare Sporting Clays range bag.
The author prefers the Wild Hare Sporting Clays range bag.mfg photo

Its twin-zipper top opens the bag wide with one pull on the loop. The new ones are the same as mine, if nicer, and finished in a quilted stitching pattern.

Here’s what fits inside:

Eye Protection: Randolph Rangers XLWs

The author chooses Randolph Rangers XLWs shooting glasses.
The author chooses Randolph Rangers XLWs shooting glasses.mfg photo

I wear Randolph Rangers XLWs with a bifocal prescription insert. The feature interchangeable lenses in a huge range of tints and shades .Target orange is my favorite, and the one I wear 98% of the time, as it makes orange clay birds pop against any background. https://www.randolphusa.com/re-ranger/frames/ranger-xlw-frame/

Ear Protection - Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Ear Muffs

Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Ear Muffs are a great and affordable hearing protection option.
Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Ear Muffs are a great and affordable hearing protection option.mfg photo

I wear electronic muffs over foam earplugs whenever I go to the range. With the volume turned up, I can hear myself talk when I'm coaching, or turn the volume down to quiet the hecklers when it's my turn to shoot. In either case, the amplifier circuit shuts off to allow the muffs to protect my ears when a gun goes off. These require just two AAA batteries and shut off automatically after four hours to keep me from draining them when I leave the muffs on by mistake.

Shooting Vest - Browning Trapper's Creek Vest

The author likes the discontinued Browning Trapper’s Creek Vest.
The author likes the discontinued Browning Trapper’s Creek Vest.mfg photo

Like most of my stuff, this vest is discontinued, but it bears a strong resemblance to the current Browning Trapper's Creek Vest. It has pockets big enough for lots of shells my ear muffs when I'm not wearing them. It's mesh, so it stays as cool as anything can during Iowa's humid summers, and it has a pouch in the back where I can save empty hulls for later reloading. There's a recoil-absorbing REACTAR G2 pad in the shoulder, too. The golf towel (not included) clipped to the vest comes in handy for wiping the sweat off my hands and brow.

Ammunition and Bucket

Shotguns, more than any other kind of shooting, produce a lot of spent shell material. A 5-gallon bucket is a great accessory to have on hand for toting live and spent ammo.
Shotguns, more than any other kind of shooting, produce a lot of spent shell material. A 5-gallon bucket is a great accessory to have on hand for toting live and spent ammo.mfg photos

I shoot mostly 7/8 ounce, 1200 fps reloads for practice because they are soft-kicking and more economical to load since they require less powder and shot. I tote them to the range in a 5 gallon bucket. Reloading doesn’t save a ton of money, but when you’ve got a whole bucket full of shells, and can grab them by the handful, it makes you feel rich.

Tote Bag

A heavy, all purpose bag with good handles is always useful on the range.
A heavy, all purpose bag with good handles is always useful on the range.mfg photo

A freebie from a past SHOT Show, this L.L. Bean tote bag works perfectly to hold my hulls when I empty out my vest pouch.

Multi-Tool

The Gerber MP600 line of multi-tools has a lot of good options for range junkies.
The Gerber MP600 line of multi-tools has a lot of good options for range junkies.mfg photo

Mine's a Gerber, and, again, while old, is eerily similar to the current MP600. The pliers come in handy all for pulling stuck hulls out of shotguns, and I use the knife blade to cut paper off the roll when I'm pattern testing.

Gloves

These MacWets gloves provide protection and dexterity for shooters.
These MacWets gloves provide protection and dexterity for shooters.mfg photo

Gloves are both for cold weather and for the rare times I want to shoot a classic double gun a lot without burning my fingers on the barrels. Mine are MacWets, originally designed in England for water skiers. They are thin enough you hardly know they're on, and they're breathable and they help you hold onto things like gun stocks when they get wet, too.

Tools - Screwdrivers and 5mm Allen Wrench

Having a set of screwdrivers and Allen wrenches on hand is a good idea.
Having a set of screwdrivers and Allen wrenches on hand is a good idea.mfg photo

If I have to take the stock off an O/U to get at an internal problem, I can pull the pad with the Phillips head, then unscrew the stock bolt with either the long-handled flat screwdriver or the Allen wrench.

Gunsmith screwdriver: The black-handled screwdriver is a Wheeler Engineering gunsmithing screwdriver with interchangeable bits, seen here in its incarnation as a punch for drifting out trigger group pins from pumps and semiautos. It comes as part of a kit with two handles and 70-some very useful bits to fit almost any screw.

Breakdown Cleaning Rod

This breakdown cleaning rod from Hoppe's can be used to clear stuck shells and, obviously, to give barrels a quick wipe-down.
This breakdown cleaning rod from Hoppe's can be used to clear stuck shells and, obviously, to give barrels a quick wipe-down.mfg photo

This one is from Hoppe's. I don't bring it for cleaning so much as for dislodging a wad stuck in the barrel, which happens to anyone who reloads every once in a while, and to some of us more often than others.

Rag

You want to keep your firearms in good condition. A rag or towel is necessary for wiping off sweaty fingerprints or drying a gun that gets caught in the rain.
You want to keep your firearms in good condition. A rag or towel is necessary for wiping off sweaty fingerprints or drying a gun that gets caught in the rain.mfg photo

I think the one in the top photo used to be a dishtowel. Whatever it was, now it's handy for wiping off sweaty fingerprints or drying a gun that gets caught in the rain. If you want to get fancy about it, you can get something like this Browning Shooting Towel.

Hoppe's Gun Medic

Hoppe's line of GunMedic cleaning products are fast acting and deal with the heavy grime of extended shooting sessions.
Hoppe's line of GunMedic cleaning products are fast acting and deal with the heavy grime of extended shooting sessions.mfg photo

When a gun gets balky, a spritz of Gun Medic can get it going again. It cleans and lubes in one step.

Staple Gun

If you have paper targets, you need a staple gun, plain and simple.
If you have paper targets, you need a staple gun, plain and simple.mfg photo

I use this for stapling up contractor paper when I'm pattern testing. It takes T50 staples, which go into plywood backstops quite well.

Sharpies

A Sharpie marker ends up in almost every range bag.
A Sharpie marker ends up in almost every range bag.mfg photo

Patterns are of no use to me if I can't remember what gun, load, choke and distance I shot them at. So, Sharpies.

Choke tubes and wrench: These are Briley tubes custom fitted to the bores of gun. With this set, and the wrench to change them, I can use one gun for everything.

Gun Case

Soft gun cases can be more versatile that hard-shell models.
Soft gun cases, like this one from Boyt Harness Company, can be more versatile that hard-shell models.mfg photo

Hard gun cases better for protecting your firearms, but soft cases that let you keep the gun together are so much more convenient. This is Boyt Harness Company's scoped rifle case, which just fits my shotgun and has a handy pocket where I can stash a box of choke tubes and a wrench, or a rag and some oil.

Shotgun

The author uses an old Charles Daly shotgun for sporting clays and skeet.
The author uses an old Charles Daly shotgun for sporting clays and skeet.mfg photo

My sporting clays gun doubles as a skeet gun and works for trap in a pinch. It's an old Charles Daly made in the Miroku factory in Japan in the 1970s that now makes Citoris, and it's fairly close (but way cooler, I'm biased toward older guns) to the Citori CXS crossover target gun, which is likewise made to be an all-around target gun