All too often at the range, I see new shooters going from excited to instantly overwhelmed. They have decided to take up shooting, purchased their first firearm and a box of ammunition, and made it to shooting range. However, they quickly realize how underprepared they are due to a lack of range gear. Before they know it, they are spending money on items such as earmuffs, safety glasses and targets before they even get to step foot on the range. But wait! There’s more.
On their way out, they see an entire section dedicated to gun care and cleaning supplies and find themselves right back at the register. While there are a ton of accessories and products that simply aren’t necessary, there are a few — as a new gun owner — you shouldn’t be without.
Eye and Ear Protection
Arguably (but it shouldn’t be in my opinion), the two most important items you’ll need are eye and ear protection. Whether you’re shooting at an indoor or outdoor range, you should always take special care to protect your eyes and ears.
When starting your search, you’ll want to look for glasses that meet or exceed ANSI Z87.1 standards (American National Standards Institute) and hearing protection that has a NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) rating of 33 or higher — preferably above 31 if indoor shooting. Both should be comfortable, secure, and able to be cleaned after each use. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but these items are not ones that you want to skimp on either.
After ensuring that you can shoot safely, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals and practice. After all, getting to the actual shooting is the fun part! Targets come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. More often than not, you’ll find paper and cardboard targets at your local range. While you can purchase them there, they may not have a wide selection and will likely be more expensive, so it’s wise to bring your own.
Most ranges will provide cardboard backing and tape, to assist with securing your target but tape is never a bad idea to throw into your bag. Targets will help you improve your accuracy, understand what you need to work on, and help zero in the sights on your new gun.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Every gun owner should know how to clean their gun and do it regularly. After a shooting session, it’s not uncommon to find lead or copper fouling, and residue left behind that can collect quickly. It’s a great practice to set time aside after the range for cleaning to ensure all firearms are in perfect shape for their next use.
There are many great products available to clean, lubricate, and preserve your gun. You can either piece them together into a nice cleaning kit or buy a pre-assembled cleaning kit that includes everything you’ll need. A clean gun is a happy gun!
Now that you have all of your gear, you don’t want to carry it to the range in a plastic bag, do you? Investing in a quality range bag can save you time and hassle, not to mention keep your things secure when transiting from your home to your vehicle and into the range. I suggest finding a bag that doesn’t just fit your essentials, but also offers various compartments and pockets to keep things organized. Knowing where your gear is when you need it will save you a headache in the long run.