We spend a lot of time talking about what’s inside our range bags, so I thought it might be helpful to have a discussion of essential range operating gear that’s outside the bag.

The Right Belt

I’m a stickler for using a proper gun belt, especially for concealed carry. Structure engineered for stability is key, as the right belt must support your gun properly through all conditions — hot, cold, humid or rainy. And, its stability must survive the tests of time and wear and tear.

A proper range belt must do all that … and more. Whether for fun or training and for pure range convenience, you’re more likely to be “geared up” with extra magazine carriers, an outside-the-waistband holster and perhaps a tourniquet or compact med kit. For longer outings, all this with comfort is a big plus, too.

Enter the Maverick Battle Belt. It’s a two-part affair. At home, you thread the non-intimidating inner belt through your pants belt loops. There’s nothing tactical about this and you won’t frighten those you encounter traveling to and from the range. When you get to the shooting area, you wrap the outer belt with mag carriers, holsters and whatever else you like already mounted onto the inner belt. An aggressive hook-and-loop system combined with an industrial-strength buckle keeps the inner and outer belts firmly attached. When it’s time to go home, just rip off the outer belt and dump the whole mess into your shooting back. You’re back to “civilian” belt mode.

Sun and Fun

Long days in the sun epitomize the glory of youth — until your doctor starts cutting off body parts later in life. Those “interesting” range tans on your arms, neck and legs come at a long-term price: permanent damage from the sun and, if you indulge too much, skin cancers. Trust me, I know from experience that it’s no fun going under the knife for reasons so entirely preventable.

All this has led me to arguably my first good habit in life: wearing proper clothes at the range, and of course, anytime I’ll be out in the sun for an extended time. I know this may seem patently obvious to many of you, but tossing on a UV-protective shirt, ideally, a long-sleeved one, is the easiest ounce of prevention you’ll ever swallow.

The Marksman long-sleeve shirt is constructed from fabric featuring built-in sun protection. With a rating of 50 UPF, you’re well protected from ultraviolet radiation (both UVA and AVB). The Skin Cancer Foundation offers a seal of approval for fabrics rated over 30 UPF and considers 30-49 “very good” and 50 as excellent. What the “50” means is that only two percent (1/50th) of the sun’s UV rays make it through the fabric.

To keep you cool in the heat, this one offers vented underarm areas and a mesh moisture-wicking design. Chest and a sleeve pocket deliver space for your gear. If you prefer short sleeves, check out the Marksman Utility Plaid Shirt Sleeve designs.

Oh, one more thing if you carry. This one has the center front RAPIDraw snap placket feature. Hold that thought …

Concealed Carry … At the Range?

I often frequent a public range run by our state’s Department of Natural Resources. It’s a beautiful facility and staffed by an awesome crew of range safety officers. While the odds of any type of criminal encounter there are very low, I have “always carry” habits burned into my brain’s semiconductors. Besides, I like to practice with my carry gun, at least some, during every range outing. And, of course, I am traveling to and from the range, often stopping along the way for other errands. Bottom line, I often go dressed in similar attire to what I wear on any other day out and about town.

5.11 Tactical makes some traditional and decidedly non-traditional carry shirts. Right now, I rotate through three different Adventure Print shirts. They’re button-front, semi-Hawaiian-style shirts, so they won’t set off any “this guy is carrying a gun!” alarm bells. And you gotta love the patterns. Mine are previous-year models, offering colorful prints of mushrooms, wild boar and tropical flowers. Don’t worry, all those patterns are not on the same shirt! The company creates new designs yearly, so keep an eye out for additional options.

Here’s the functional benefit of these shirts. Yes, they have all the right features of wrinkle resistance, non-tactical appearance and comfort. But it’s the center front RAPIDraw snap placket that makes them my number one carry and frequent range pick. Simply put, the bottom few buttons are fake and hide snap fasteners, so if you need to draw quickly from concealment, just be aggressive, and the shirt material opens up for you. I love these shirts.

Shooting Shoes?

My regular ranges are all outdoors, so traipsing back and forth to targets and the berms, I collect plenty of mud, especially after a good rain. That’s not particularly popular at home, so I tend to keep a separate pair of boots for such use. Recently, I’ve been favoring lightweight options like 5.11’s A/T Mid Boots that represent a cross between an athletic or hiking shoe and a proper boot. Soft and flexible, they still offer solid support to help prevent the various “sore foot” ailments that tend to plague us as the years go by.

There’s one more very good reason to consider a pair of “shooting shoes.” Whether you’re shooting inside or out, you’ll be picking up lead residue from spent projectiles and the burned ick from some types of primers. You won’t get lead poisoning through osmosis of the feet, but your shoes will bring nasty stuff like that back into the home.

Gear Toting

While we’ve been focusing on “extra-bag” gear considerations, you do need something to carry your “inside-the-bag” gear. I bring a fair amount of stuff on my range outings, so I prefer a full-size bag with storage options. The Range Ready Trainer Bag is 21x14x10 inches, so there’s plenty of room for extra ears, ammo, handguns, a bunch of magazines (individual elastic pockets) and other accessories. One end is equipped with MOLLE straps so you can mount extra gear, perhaps a first-aid kit, tourniquet pouch or general-purpose organizer.

If you’re looking for something a bit more portable, check out the Range Qualifier Bag. It features the same durable construction but is sized for a simpler outing.

As you prepare for your next range session, remember that the gear you wear and carry can significantly impact your experience. From the stability of your belt to the protection of your skin, choosing the right gear is crucial Visit 511tactical.com to explore a wide range of high-quality, purpose-built gear designed to enhance your shooting experience.