Here at California Tactical Academy, we frequently get questions from new and even some experienced shooters, as to what they need for a fun and safe range day. The answer really depends on what the shooter is hoping to accomplish. However, some items are absolutely essential.
First off, have personal protection items. Eye wear and hearing protection is always required at any reputable shooting range. Believe it or not, in the not too distant past, I taught a class with some very adapt military members. I mentioned my requirements for eye protection that exceeds cheap sunglasses. One of the more senior members told me that was ridiculous, the idea that a round might ricochet off a rock and cause an eye injury was not even a possibility as far as he was concerned. Since it was my class, it was my rules and despite his seniority, he would have to follow them. And he begrudgingly did. I was amazed that a seasoned, combat veteran would jeopardize his eyesight in such a foolish manner. I’m still amazed that some people will quibble at buying or renting protective eye wear. My vision is worth so much more than a couple of hundred dollars. And good, protective eye wear does not expire or wear out. It does sometimes get lost or re-purposed by my family but that’s another issue.
Hearing protection is another area where you must have the proper equipment. I prefer ear muffs to plugs. Ear muffs provide better protection when firing a rifle and they are easier to ensure proper application. I sometimes see people struggle with getting ear plugs properly seated. The best solution is to use both. This provides the best hearing protection possible and is unobtrusive. The downside is hearing range commands and conversation with friends. I generally recommend electronic hearing protection. The price of such items has come down to a point where they are a better value than regular ear muffs. For less than forty dollars you can get electronic hearing protection that will shut out loud noise, while amplifying normal conversational tones. Again, what is your hearing worth over your lifetime? Hearing loss is irreversible so don’t quibble on these items.
For the casual shooter, the next item is a small kit to clean and lubricate your firearm. There are few things more frustrating than arriving at the range, and having malfunction after malfunction of your pistol or rifle due to dirt or lack of lubrication. Even if you arrive with a clean firearm, an extended shooting session will almost always leave your gun wanting for lubrication if not a quick field cleaning.
Of course, you will need targets and ammunition. Getting targets is not too difficult, but now in California ammunition must be purchased from a dealer. Obviously, California Tactical Academy is aware of this and now sells a wide range of ammunition for most popular firearms. The type of ammunition varies from precise long-range target ammunition, to lead free hunting ammunition. CTA also offers reloads for the high-volume shooter who wants to either get in a lot of practice or shoot some of the offered competitions.
The final item the range requires is a chamber flag. This device fits into the open ejection port or the open chamber of a firearm to show the gun is clear. This helps the Range Officer ensure the range is indeed safe so people can go down range to recover targets or check their shot groups. The pro Shop sells these for less than two dollars and I have never seen one wear out.
One last thing to consider is a range bag. I like to keep all my stuff packed so I don’t have to go searching for my eye protection, ear muffs etcetera when I want to go to the range. My oldest child is just the opposite. If I tell her we are going shooting, it’s a 20-minute search party in her room for the eye pro, the hearing pro and the like. I suggest investing in a range bag and save yourself the trouble. Keep everything together in one place, add the gun and ammunition and off you go.
On the topic of guns, we all like to try new things. One of the nice things about a well-stocked range like California Tactical Academy, is they have rental guns available. Want to shoot a .44 magnum, newest AR, fully costumed Glock by TTI without the initial purchase costs? Rent one at the pro Shop and see if you like it enough to make the full commitment. Same goes for several of other fun firearms.
So, get the gear, show up safe, and have a fun and safe day. We’ll see you at the range.
About the writer
Military and Law Enforcement Veteran
FBI certified firearm instructor
MP5 and Sub Machine gun instructor
Defensive tactics instructor
Police Academy instructor