This year I’m celebrating my 20th year of competitive shooting. I learned quickly that going to a shooting match was different than just heading to the local range to practice—many matches were out of town—if not out of state—and if you didn’t have it with you, you shouldn’t count on one of the other competitors to loan you something. Heck, they want to beat you, so even if they do have a full set of Allen wrenches in their bag, they might not admit it. Heading to a nearby range, you can throw whatever you might need into the back of your truck. Competitive shooters, however, live and die, win and lose, based on the contents of their bags.
The first range bag I ever bought was the biggest on the market at the time, because I figured if I got anything smaller, I’d end up regretting it. It was sold by Wilson Combat, and veteran competitive shooter Bill Wilson knew a few things about range bags. Wilson doesn’t sell that bag anymore, but it was large enough to hold four handguns, 1,000 rounds of ammo, a cleaning kit, spare gun parts, whatever other assorted gun tools you could think of, 20 magazines and it still had room left over for your empty cases. You know what else it was when I loaded it up? HEAVY.
I lugged that bag around for years, even to local matches, before I stopped and asked myself, “Why am I lugging all this stuff around?” At that point, I started paring down the contents of my range bag to the items I really needed, and the stuff I couldn’t do without. Now my range bag is a much more minimalist affair, but I still have everything I need. Here’s a short list of stuff you absolutely need to have in your bag to make sure your range time puts a smile on your face.