Building the Perfect Range Bag - Inside MDT

Posted by Aaron Martin on 2024 Jun 27th

Building the Perfect Range Bag - Inside MDT

You have driven a couple of hours to get to the range, and when you arrive, you realize an essential piece of kit was left at home. By preparing a dedicated range bag, this scenario never needs to repeat itself. A range bag should include everything you need for a successful trip to the range and items that make accomplishing the task easier, be it specialized tools, target accessories, or even devices that assist in loading ammunition into magazines. Every shooter's range bag will be slightly different depending on the intended goal, but there are elements to the kit that are common to every outing. Once the bag is assembled, leave these pieces in the bag to be ready for the next time.

Range Bag List:

  • Tool Kit(s)
  • Cleaning Kit
  • Eye and Ear Protection
  • First Aid and Trauma Kits
  • Paper Targets
  • Steel Targets
  • Staple Gun and Staples
  • Rigger's Tape
  • Pin Flags
  • Chronograph
  • Range Finder and Optics
  • Spare Batteries
  • Shot Timer
  • Flashlight

At a bare minimum, purchase a complete kit from Fix It Sticks. They offer a wide assortment of prepared kits, I prefer this one for long-range shooting. Inside, you will find a ratcheting T-Handle, torque limiters from 15 to 65 in-lbs., punches, scrapers, and picks, a mini pry bar, two bubble levels, and an assortment of 1⁄4" bits that cover the most found fasteners on rifles sold today. There are some openings in the organization tray that I have found handy to store backups or specific 1⁄4" heads as needed.

Fix it Sticks - Long Range Competition Tool Kit

Keep all optics-specific tools, like a small Allen key, in the kit with a magnet. You're less likely to lose it this way, and the magnet doubles for keeping small parts and screws together if tearing down a rifle in the field (we've all lost those small springs and detents!). If you shoot with a suppressor, it's a good idea to keep the spanner wrench in this pouch, but at a bare minimum, the spanner wrench should find its way into the bag.

A cleaning kit (don't forget a bore guide) is included in the tool kit category. The Long-Range Competition Toolkit from Fix it Sticks includes a stainless-steel version. I like this one because it comes with a case to keep everything organized and segregated from the bag's contents. A multi-tool has also proven handy on occasion; I use this one. Everyone has their preference for ear and eye protection, but keeping some spares for guests is a great idea. Even small foam earplugs can save a range day when inviting family or friends who don't visit the range very often.

Snake Staff Solutions IFAK + ETQ bundle.

While gun safety is paramount at every range, come prepared with first aid and trauma kits. The likelihood of encountering a small laceration greatly outweighs the occasion for a tourniquet, so don't skip the small bandages and sterilization wipes. Still, being prepared for trauma on both limb and torso is a necessity. Snake Staff Solutions provides a well-thought-out trauma kit that addresses it all. Keep your first aid and trauma kit outside of the range bag, preferably in a red pouch denoting its use. Brief anyone in the vicinity where it is and the contents included (I usually keep a paper list in the kit for this).

Medical kits should be clearly labeled and easily accessible.

Paper targets can be as simple as 8.5" x11" printer sheets to adhesive reactive targets like Shoot N See. I prefer dedicated targets that apply to specific drills meant to diagnose, correct, and train a shooter. Check these out from Modern Day Sniper. I keep my paper targets in a manilla envelope so the edges don't get bent, and I can retain them for further analysis later. Of course, we need to attach the paper targets to a target board and keep a staple gun with extra staples in the range bag. Having white and black pasties in the bag is a great way to reuse a target for extra drills. Pack a roll of Rigger's tape, just in case!

Targets, paint and staple gun!

What is more fun than shooting steel targets? The audible feedback upon impact keeps us shooting for hours. Keep those targets in working order by packing spare parts. Most steel targets use 1⁄2" hardware when connecting to a target strap or hanger. I keep several extra in the bag, along with the adjustable wrenches. Check with range first, but I often find steel targets already on a range to be shot up when I arrive. I keep a few colors of spray paint in the bag to freshen up the target array as well as a reset for the next shooters coming behind me; I call this "Painting it Forward." Small fluorescent pin flags can assist you in designating firing lines or shooting positions in more austere range environments. I use these flags when shooting pistols and carbines to denote different ranges. Keeping a handful in the bag is a great practice.

Garmin Xero is an awesome piece of equipment.

Chronographs have come a long way in a short period. I keep a Garmin Xero inside my range bag in a small hard case to check muzzle velocities and diagnose external ballistic issues. While there are many chronographs on the market today, I have found the Garmin works best for me, and I never need to worry about it not gathering data from a shot.

A laser range finder is the best way to define distances when shooting at an unfamiliar or unmarked range. A small and portable monocular like this one from Leupold comes in handy when you need it most. A requirement for some will be a spotting scope. While I tend to use binoculars the most, a trusty set of 10x binos cannot compete with a dedicated spotting scope when viewing small groups at a distance. I always keep one in the bag with a small tripod.

shot timer is a great tool for promoting friendly competition and holding yourself accountable when training. The ability to set a par time and run a drill repeatedly will improve your shooting.

Listed above are several electronic components. There are likely several electronic components on the firearms you're using as well. Keeping extra batteries for these components in a small tackle box speeds up the reset process and gets you back on the gun quicker.

A small light is invaluable for packing up after a day on the range.

Also, keep a small flashlight in the bag. Many range trips turn into an all-day affair. Packing up in the dark is a good way to ensure something is left behind. Checking the range and firing line with white light when the sun goes down is a good habit to have. More than once, I found an errant magazine or shooting bag on one last check. It's also handy to have some direct light when working on a firearm or checking torques. I like this one from Cloud Defensive.

Finally, get a good range bag or hard-sided case. Having all this gear and equipment is awesome, but having a convenient and thoughtful way to transport it is essential. The bag can be as simple as a duffel bag, a large plastic tote, or a specifically built range bag like this one from Eberlestock.



Aaron is a former US Marine Corps Scout-Sniper and Reconnaissance Marine, having served multiple tours. He has gone on to instruct hunters and military service members on precision rifle skills at FTW Ranch and is an engineering and design consultant in the firearms industry. He is currently competing in the NRL Hunter Series on Team Ruger. Aaron resides in Southern Indiana with his family when not instructing in Texas. At home, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and working on the farm alongside his wife and daughter. Aaron can be reached via Instagram @TENSECONDPRECISION.


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