My love for guns and shooting pairs well with my dislike for housework and cleaning. However, I do love organizing my range bag, and I make it a point to carry a few items that even “MacGyver” would be proud of.
Aside from packing what you must have for the range, there are other items you should consider tucking away in your range bag or vehicle for those range emergencies for which you wish you had thought ahead.
Here are 15 things I have used or have heard of that I now keep with my gear.
My number-one use for a paperclip is as a takedown pin for my 2011 pistol. It can also be used to mend a canopy, re-hang a target or fix a sling. I’ve seen sling hardware break while hunting, and a paperclip can be fashioned into a working fix. A paperclip can also secure excess sling out of the way.
Not just for toddler shoes, Velcro makes legit first aid for problems in the field. It is handy for keeping your magazine pouches from sliding around on your belt or keeping duck calls and other gear from making noise while hunting. I once gave a piece of Velcro to a friend whose pants fly broke in the middle of a match. It also works great to couple two Sure-Fire AR mags to create a monopod, repair broken straps or hook gear to a belt while dragging game out of the woods.
Keeping your gear bag or yourself dry are obvious uses for an umbrella. But if you need a squib rod, an umbrella rib can work.
“I … Love organizing my range bag, and I make it a point to carry a few items that even “macgyver” would be proud of.”
From repairing ripped pants to reinforcing a makeshift bipod to fashioning a pistol magazine pouch, duct tape can save the day. It works as shipping tape to send your ammo home from a hunt and is the product-of-choice when repairing a broken range cart or taping target sticks that have broken. I leave a roll of duct tape in my car at all times.
I prefer using super glue, but if your fiber-optic sight falls out, many women use nail polish to double as a temporary glue. I have used this on the fiber-optic for a Glock, and it worked great.
These are my go-to belt-keepers. With the aggressive movement in 3-gun matches, gear can get snagged. Use zip ties to prevent your gear and belt from moving and shifting. I have also attached slings and bipods to rifles and secured gear to my belt or zipper pull to free up a hand when hunting. I’ve secured game tags to deer and even used a very small zip tie in place of a takedown pin.
I keep a tube of Loctite in my makeup bag. I’ve used it on the screw on my pistol magwell, pins that walk, sight screws and other small parts. Loctite is less MacGyver and more of a necessity for a well-stocked range bag. Formulas with different levels of hold are available—from “This keeps the screw from moving but can be removed with a screwdriver” to “This isn’t coming apart with a jackhammer.”
I’ve use JB Weld to repair stocks and other nonstructural parts, along with filling cracks and holding things in place. It’s not a permanent solution, but in a pinch, it’s strong enough to keep you in the match or out in the field. (Don’t repair anything structural on a firearm with this fix!)
“I keep a tube of loctite in my makeup bag. I’ve used it on the screw on my pistol magwell, pins that walk, sight screws and other small parts.”
Shooting ranges come with splinters, dust, bugs … all sorts of things that can irritate. Pack alcohol wipes for cuts, bee stings, and to clean glasses or parts of a firearm.
You need a lighter or flame to melt fiber-optic when you replace it or to repair a frayed rope or a belt. And, if you are stranded while hunting, a source of fire is always a good plan.
Securing targets is the obvious use for a stapler, but if you don’t have needle and thread or Velcro, a stapler works in a pinch to mend torn pants or a broken fly (you might want to remove the pants first, though!). In a match setting, a spare stapler will earn you brownie points with any range officer whose stage has ground to a halt because they need staples.
Of course, the best way to fix torn clothing, mend slings, repair bags and shooting rests is with a good, old-fashioned needle and thread; and they’re usually free from a hotel.
Another hotel item is a shower cap. Use it to cover your pistol to keep the rain and dust off. A shower cap also works as a makeshift cover for your phone or camera.
ChapStick is handy to fend off the sun and wind. In addition, if you are working with someone who cannot shoot with both eyes open, a little bit of ChapStick on the non-dominant eye’s shooting glasses lens can work as an occluder to help them focus with the correct eye.
A little less MacGyver and more Florence Nightingale, I learned the hard way that medicine is a must when competing overseas. Dramamine will always be in my range bag—along with charcoal capsules for food poisoning or intestinal distress. Eye drops help with dust (for example, Boiron Optique is a singledose eye drop. You can put a few in your bag and forget about.
Author Becky Yackley competes in action shooting (3 Gun, USPSA, Bianchi and IPSC) with her husband and three sons. When she isn’t shooting matches or writing, she is busy with her camera. Becky is the founder of the 2A Heritage Junior shooting camps and works in social media for several firearms industry companies.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the June 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.