Essential Tools for a Successful day of Long Range Shooting
There is nothing worse than getting to the range and realizing you have forgotten a piece of gear. Rifle, ammunition, magazines, bipods, ballistic calculator, and wind meter are a given, but let's look at other gear essential for a successful day shooting.
Tools for your Precision Rifle
Allen keys in both metric and US Imperial are a must, as are a torque wrench and a Torx bit set. Ball head Allen keys are worth the extra money since they allow you to adjust your screws in hard-to-reach spots by holding the Allen key at an offset angle. I've used them to tighten down loose screws on rails, tripods, and my bolt action rifle components. A Leatherman multi-tool, level, and thread locker like Loctite are also an excellent addition to your kit.
Tools for Target Stands
Depending on your target stand, wrenches, straps, chains, nuts, bolts, gorilla glue, and duct tape are good additions to your gear. I tend to make my target stands out of wood, so I also have a cordless drill for the wood frame and a stapler for my paper targets.
In my previous career, I worked on an oil drilling rig. When it was -30C and I worked up a sweat, my glasses would fog up. We used a product called Cat Crap, a paste that rubbed into your glasses and kept off condensation. Today, I use the same stuff for snowboard goggles, scuba goggles, shooting glasses, and riflescope lenses. I rub it in with a finger and rub it off with a lens cloth, and I'm good to go. Vortex also makes a complete kit that includes a lens cloth.
Notebook and Pencil
I got into reloading to save money and improve the external ballistics of my projectiles. I meticulously logged my data using a notebook. One day, I went to the range to test out some hand loads over a chronograph and forgot my notebook. The data for the day was recorded on my phone, though it was accidentally deleted. A cheap dollar store faux leather notebook is a reliable, non-technologically dependent solution. Pair that with a classic No2 pencil, which will never dry out and works in the rain, and you are good to go. Just bring a pocket knife to sharpen.
Eye and Ear Protection
Eye and ear protection are permanent fixtures in my backpack. Earplugs are easy to stash and take up very little room and are great for flights or when you need to rest next to people who snore.
A Quality Shooting Mat…or substitute
I've spent enough time laying in puddles of water at the range to know that I prefer not to have to do that. I don't have a "shooting mat," but my Z-Lite Thermarest mattress fills the role nicely. I like it because it's very light, warm, and folds up into a compact package that can be strapped to a backpack. The closed-cell foam keeps water from penetrating, and water can be shed with a simple shake. You can extend it out to lay prone or fold it up to sit on. Mats purpose-built for shooting are great, and some can even be used as a rifle bag. Whether you live in the desert or in a wet environment, shooting mats will improve your shooting experience.
A range day without hot coffee or tea is just bad form. I usually carry my MSR Windburner Stove in the field, and I will throw some instant coffee and a pack of my favorite dry noodles in my bag when I go out for the day. Especially up in the mountains, this is nice to have when things get cold. A warm beverage and a meal can improve morale, especially with your significant other.
Binoculars/Spotting Scopes and Tripods
Binoculars and spotting scopes are excellent additions for a day on the range. Binoculars allow you to scan the range to make sure it is clear of things that should not be on the range. Binoculars and Spotting Scopes allow shooting partners to spot trace and call impacts. Tripods that can interface with binoculars and spotting scopes make using these optics easier.
First Aid Kit
Accidents happen, though, with the right gear, death, and severe injury can be mitigated. A basic kit includes gloves, scissors, sealed Israeli bandages for plugging holes, triangle bandages for limb stabilization, a three-sided chest seal, and a tourniquet. I also have a bag valve mask and oropharyngeal airways for use with CPR. My first aid kit is in my car or my shooting bag at all times.
A Satellite Communications Device
One of the best investments I have made was a Garmin Inreach. I primarily use it to mark target locations and measure target distances, but I also have it in case I have an emergency while out in the field. Satellite communications devices are a tad pricey but are invaluable for emergencies, like injuries or a vehicle breakdown.