What to take to the range

by B.B. Pelletier

This report was inspired by Scott298, who asked me to discuss what a shooter should have available in the field and at home when shooting. I will concentrate on the field.

My shooting kit has been assembled over the years from shooting competitive field target and from having to travel many miles to get to a range. Whenever I needed something I didn’t have, it probably made its way into the kit.

Personal
Let’s start with safety and comfort. I always carry extra shooting glasses and disposable foam earplugs. Even if I know I’ll be wearing electronic muffs at the firearm range (ALWAYS!), I never know where I’ll be when I’m NOT at the firearm range. Sometimes it’s just nice to have hearing and eye protection to pass around.

I always carry OFF Deep Woods insect repellant, and to this day, I still carry a can in my kit. The insects are not always bothersome, but they can be on the odd day when the wind doesn’t blow. In cold weather, chemical hand warmers are a real blessing to have. They last for many hours and will get you by when the weather takes a nasty turn.

Fill devices
When shooting PCPs and bulk CO2 guns, I always carry spare fill adapters, because you never know when an adapter will blow an O-ring. I also carry a roll of Teflon tape and two crescent wrenches in case I need to fix any connections. I’ve never used these on my own equipment, but I have fixed a number of other shooters’ fill devices this way. I also carry a jar of silicone grease and a small bottle of Crosman Pellgunoil. Because I once ran out of CO2 cartridges 27 miles from home, I carry three spares in my kit all the time.

Fill devices, continued
I also take a hand pump rated to fill whatever guns I’m shooting, because a scuba tank eventually drops in pressure. I have a Hill pump for when the gun needs more than 3,000 psi (the new AirForce hand pump, which I don’t have yet, goes all the way up to 3,600 psi). I used to carry an 80 cubic-foot scuba tank, but my wife took pity on me and let me get an 88-cubic foot carbon fiber air tank. It weighs half as much as a scuba tank and carries MUCH more air, so even when testing big bores I have all the air I need.

Binoculars
Sometimes, I shoot with open sights and instead of walking 50 yards downrange to see the target, I carry a small pair of 8×21 binoculars. I started carrying them when I shot field target.

Tools
Can’t have enough tools when you need them, and the range is a bad place to need them and not have them. I take all my Allen wrenches (for scopes, mostly), a B-Square tool kit, and several cleaning rods for clearing the bore. More than once I have been stymied when a pellet got stuck in the bore a long way from home.

Targets and target holders
I always inventory my range box to make certain I’m carrying enough targets when I head to the range. I’ve been caught short so many times that I even carry a couple universal targets in my truck all the time. A 50′ slow-fire pistol target can substitute for many things in a pinch, including a 100-yard rifle target. For target holders on the informal ranges I visit, I use cardboard boxes. The targets are taped to the boxes and if there is wind, I put rocks inside to keep them steady. I always carry at least one box in my truck at all times. A roll of Scotch tape is always in my kit, and when I go to the firearms range where they have rubber target hangers to attach targets to, a heavy-duty stapler and extra staples go along. I also have an Air Arms folding target frame that is always with me. If I need to sight in, I can put this frame on the ground 10′ away with a 10-meter pistol target in it. It’s perfect for sighting in a scope.

Range box
I’ve used an MTM range box for the past 10 years and it’s perfect for holding everything except the cleaning rods. It’s about the same size as a large tackle box. It’s similar to this small Plano case. Although it has room in the top for pistols, I usually carry them separately, because the box is always loaded with so much other stuff, including ammunition.

Besides all that, I carry pellets, chronographs and a digital camera.

40 thoughts on “What to take to the range

  1. Now I remember one reason I used to love my old Sheridan silver streak. Rifle, can or two of pellets and I was good to go for the day.


  2. Thanks for todays post BB

    I usually take a small towel with me. It can be used to wipe sweaty hands, the rifle stock or even clean the metal parts of the rifle before you put it away…

    It’s not essential but it’s better than wiping your hand on your shirt of trousers before you grasp the stock to make the shot.


  3. BB,

    I dont think i could get by with a scuba tank. I have one and it does not compare to my cf tank. I had a pump but it broke twice. The first time i took it apart and fixed it (good for me!) but the second time i striped the threads where the hase goes in. Yea, i fixed it with no guidence but dont know to stop turning.

    -sumo




  4. BB,

    WOW! all my guns together drain it in 2 weeks with me shooting 200 rounds per day. I have been shooting much more with pellet guns recently. That will go back down to 40 shot sessions once every three days. I was thinking about getting one of the small cf tanks but i get enough shots per charge in the feild and when im not in the feild i have my surpluss of air by my side. Its not far to the scuba shop where i get the tank fill.

    Funny thing is… I had it filled at this shop by a guy that looked to be in his 30s about 4 times then i went in for the 5th time or so and the owner was in the store but not the other guy that filled it before. I showed him what i had and he said he could not fill it! I said, i have the adaptor and i HAVE had it filled here before. He said that it was an insurance issue that he could not fill anything but scuba cylinders. He was reasonable and gave me a fill to 4500 but said he would have to talk to the insurance company. They always say no dont they!!! We will see.

    -sumo


  5. bb – I have a somewhat unrelated question: do you know of any remedy for shooting glasses fogging up? My 10 meter indoor shooting space gets pretty stuffy. Should I just go for the source of the problem and get a shop fan?


  6. do you have any knowledge of traveling by air with airguns? I’ll be heading out west via air and want to pack along a bengi 392 or maybe a co2 or pumper pistol. I know they wont allow pressurized tanks. Can you just put it in checked luggage or do you need to declare it like a firearm.

    thanks,
    hb


  7. HB

    co2 stays on the ground!

    you could ship it all for like 20 bucks with fedex. I have been sending guns back and forth from ct to California a bunch over the past 3 months. I would fedex if i were you.

    -sumo


  8. Hi B.B.,
    Just wanted to say a big thank you to you and Pyramid air for this blog. I’ve been reading the stuff on here for around a year and have learned a lot. I’ve got a question about accuracy from the offhand postion. What would be considered a good offhand group with a RWS 34 from say 20 yards with open sights? Just need something to guage my progress. I’m just getting into adult airguns so I have a way to go. I get half inch groups offhand but that’s at 20 feet or so! Your recent post about offhand shooting really helped. Trapper



  9. I know this is off topic, but I am looking for help choosing an air rifle for a 13 year old. We would prefer a spring rifle with a wood stock, that is manageable for a smaller framed person. We have been disappointed with the lower priced Chinese imports and would like something similar in quality to the RWS 34, but in a smaller package. (shorter, lighter, and easier to break) It will be used mostly for casual plinking. The Beeman HW30 looks like an option at the higher end of our price range, but would you have any other options we should look into? I have looked through some of the older information you have written here, but manufacturers change things so quickly I am unsure your past comments are still accurate.

    Thanks

    DCS


  10. hi sorry a little off topic. i was wondering if you knew how much energy is possible with a crosman 2240 mod pistol with a 14″ barrel if its ported and polished etc. in larger cals, ie. 32,38 say with a 85-115 grain slug.
    thxs


  11. One suggestion for a shooting kit is targets that are considerably easier to use at the range without either squinting in desperation through your binoculars at shot groupings or walking back and forth to the target so much that the other shooters get frustrated.
    The Visi-Shot targets are perfect for that because they make all hits instantly visible with a fluorescent orange splash surrounding each pellet hole.
    The first two links below even have targets that use multiple colors so you can score your hits by looking at the color of the splash circle.
    Another virtue of these particular targets is that the paper is stout card stock that doesn’t rip easily, so it is quite easy to unstaple them, put them in your car, then put your calipers to them to measure groups.
    I also use these to their maximum potential by using the first shot as my aim point, then putting the next four right on top of it.
    That way, I generally can fit four different groups carefully onto one target, use a silver Sharpie directly on the target to identify the pellet, airgun, and range of each group, then circle the appropriate group.
    Once you use visible shot targets such as these, the Shoot-n-C, or the Dirty Bird, you will get so spoiled that you won’t want to go back to plain paper.

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=1877

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=1878

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=1884

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=1883


  12. bb,

    what if i take a condor, put it on high power, get a gunsmith to put in a lothar walther .17 firearm barrel, and use .17 hm2 bullets? would this work as a long range hunting pest gun(100yrds+)?

    DED


  13. DED,

    BB will be able to explain the technical reasons not to do that, but I know the answer is a definite no.
    We had another poster who was using Daystate air BULLETS, instead of pellets.
    These were nothing more than Eley .22LR lead bullets sold in a tin for specific Daystate rifles designed to use them.
    This guy was just barely able to load them into his Condor using considerable force with a spoon, then fire them.
    It turns out that this kind of thing can damage the Condor, as it was never designed to operate with anything but conventional pellets, with the Eun Jin being the top of the heavies.
    Using a .17HM2 bullet will be CONSIDERABLY tougher to load than a plain lead bullet, since it is gilding metal (95%/5% copper/zinc alloy) jacketed.
    You are also far more likely to damage the Condor sooner than with lead, since those jacketed bullets are so much harder to propel down the barrel.
    To get an idea why using conventional rifle bullets is such a bad idea out of even such a beast as the Condor, realize that the Condor has 3,000psi maximum to propel its projectiles.
    Now, the lowly .22LR is using something on the order of 22,000psi.
    Want REAL pressure?
    I don’t know at what levels the HM2 operates, but I DO know that the .300 Weatherby is operating well above 55,000psi.
    Even if you could get the Condor to launch that hard bullet without damaging it, you wouldn’t get enough muzzle velocity to properly stabilize it, and accuracy would suffer badly as a result.
    FWIW, I hear from some people who can do 100 yard shots with the Condor just with a little practice and perhaps some minor customization.
    If you want 100-150 yard shooting, leave the airgun and move to the scoped .22LR or (yes) the .17HM2.
    Anything beyond that will require a centerfire.



  14. hb,

    You already got a good answer to this question, so I’ll just add a few things. You must call the airline before goinjg to the airport to learn their regulations. They will treat an airgun the same as a firearm, plus they will not transport compressed air or gas, so leave the CO2 at home.

    The gun will have to be in a locked container regardless of whether it’s in your luggage or not, and you will have to be present when they open it to examin it.

    B.B.




  15. DCS,

    Whoever this 13-year-old is, is a lucky person, becausde you are looking at quality instead of performance. The HW 30 is an ideal rifle for this person. Cocking may be difficult to manage at first, but the shooter will find a way. And this rifle will grow with him or her.

    Diana used to offer a model 24 that would also have been fine, but they have lost the vision of a balanced product line. Thankfully, Weihrauch has not.

    B.B.


  16. 2240 big bore,

    I would imagine you could get 35 foot-pouns out of a 14-inch barrel with a heavy enough bullet. Of course as the caliber increases so does the optimum barrel length, so stopping at 14 inches is robbing you of potential.

    B.B.


  17. DED,

    I must agree with Scott on this. The only air rifle I know of that shoots jacketed bullets produces 125 foot-pounds and costs about $8,0000. I would think you would have to spend at least $2,000 to gunsmith a Condor to do it.

    On the other hand, for under $800, I think you can get a Condor to shoot LEAD bullets and come close to the performance of a Ruger 10/22 shooting stardard-velocity .22LR ammo. That’s my sarcastic way of asking why you are seeking to spend buckets of money on an airgun just to get what firearms already offer for a lot less.

    B.B.


  18. bb,

    lol, i wasn’t actually thinking of doing this, i was just trying to think of a set up that would work like that, lol. just kinda designing it in my head.

    DED


  19. B.B,

    Tell me more about how the pellet gets stuck in the bore. With firearms stuck bullets are usually because of no powder. What happens with air guns?

    Farmer


  20. Farmer,

    The last firearm bullet that got stuck in the bore for me was a cartridge that exploded because of too much headspace on a rimfire prototype rifle chambered for the .17 HM2. It left a bit of brass in my right arm, too.

    Airguns do it for the same reason, no air or CO2. Sometimes spring guns are so powerful they blow the heads off thin pellets and leave that mess sitting in the chamber.

    B.B.


  21. B.B.

    With firearms there is often catastrophic failure if the obstruction is not removed before the next shot is fired. What happens with air guns?

    How do you tell if the head has blown off or if there is only enough air or CO2 to move the pellet partially down the barrel?

    Farmer


  22. Farmer,

    The pellets just pile up in the bore.

    If the head blows up the skirt usually stays put, making it impoossible to load another pellet.

    The amount of air or CO2 (CO2, mostly) is a judgement thing based on sound and experience.

    B.B.




  23. Nate,

    Yes, Indeed,indeed!

    Thanks for the link.

    The guy lived to take pictures, but did not show his face–niether would I.

    Farmer


  24. B.B.,

    The high pressure hand pump you take to the range looks like an ordinary bicycle pump. What mechanism makes a high pressure pump able to give reach 3000 psi fill? Can you please show a diagram and pictures?

    Thanks.

    Dave


  25. Dave,

    I have no diagrams to show, but the mnodern high-pressure hand pumnp is really three pumps nested inside one another. The air is handed off from pump to pump (pumped from one into the next), being compressed three times from start to finish. The final output is a small amount of air at a very high pressure and temperature.

    B.B.


  26. bb,

    there are quite a few hand pumps out there(the hill, air venture, air force, etc.)…which one should i get when i buy the aa s410 sidelever? also, what accesories do i have to get?(if you can, leave links…this will be my first pcp, so im kinda unsure of what to get). sorry…im too excited to wait for the review, lol.

    DED


  27. DED,

    I recommend getting the FX Logun pump for this rifle because Pyramyd Air has set it up that way. If you get any other pump, you will be responsible for all the connectors.

    Get a jar of diver’s silicone gease for the O-rings. Pyramyd doesn’t sell this stuff yet, so get it on line or at a dive shop.

    Get a chronograph. That’s the ONLY way to know how to properly fill YOUR rifle. It may say 3000/200 bar, but each rifle is a little different. And, besides, 200 bar is not even 3000 psi (it’s 2940), so right there you start with a mistake. You want 206 bar, but nobody cares when they write the instructions.

    Get the name of the person selling you this rifle, so you have a person to call if something goes wrong.

    B.B.




  28. DANGEROUS to use pellgun oil in PCP. probably 3000+psi in cartridge case to produce 800fps.

    this could cause an explosion!

    “Cartridge maintenance
    Besides charging and loading the cartridges, they have to be lubricated periodically. Crosman Pellgunoil is about the best stuff for this.”



  29. B.B.–scott 298-hope you and your wife had a good weekend. Just wanted that in addition to most of the stuff you carry I also have something in my arsenar (tried to post last week when this came out but couldn’t get thru). I have my range set up at my sister-inlaws-lot of room and this is where I store my portable shooting bench. The additional item is a surveyors tape -measures about 5″x5″ and plays out to 100 yards. This way-especially if I’m sitting in I know the exact range and I can also play around with it to determine the hold over at various distances-thanks Scott298


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