16 Dec Essential Shooting Supplies: The Definitive Guide
This ultimate guide to essential shooting supplies walks shooters through the following:
- Necessary gun equipment
- Cleaning and maintenance tools you need
- Which nice-to-have products make the most difference
- Elite additions that are worth considering
Whether you want a refresher, are new to shooting, or are curious about our list, this is the guide for you. Let’s get started.
Essential Shooting Supplies Guide Chapters:
How to Get the Most From Your Ear and Eye Protection Gear
Protecting your ears and eyes when shooting, especially when shooting indoors, is a must for your essential shooting supplies. Shooting ranges won’t let you onto the range unless you bring or rent protective ear and eye equipment. While renting ear and eye protection is fine if you only go shooting once in a while or forgot yours, having nice equipment, especially for your ears, can make your shooting experience more enjoyable.
Types Of Eye Protection
Most indoor gun ranges provide plastic eye protection. These glasses protect your eyes from anything that might fly back at you. While there are various eye protection levels, basic shooting glasses will do the job. If you wear prescription eyeglasses, a prescription lens and nosepiece insert will allow you to shoot with your glasses on.
Best Ear Protection vs. Ear Shooting Essentials
While your eyes are essential, ear protection comes in more forms. You can get everything from a bag of foam earplugs to noise-canceling electronic earmuffs. While earplugs work in a pinch, they make it difficult to talk to your buddies on the range.
When You Need Eye and Ear Protection
When shooting indoors, you should always wear ear and eye protection. However, when shooting outdoors, the necessary protective equipment depends on the gun. The NSSF suggests always wearing ear and eye protection. However, if you and your buddies are shooting .22s or guns with silencers outside, hearing protection isn’t as essential because it isn’t as loud. That said, always have hearing protection, even if you plan on shooting a quieter setup.
Everything You Need to Know About First Aid and Guns
Having a first aid kit is always good to have in your essential shooting supplies. However, when it comes to shooting, it’s essential. Shooting can be dangerous, and while you probably won’t need it, it’s better to be ready for the worst than to be caught off guard by something small.
What Should Be Included in A Shooting Essentials First Aid Kit
Your firearm medical kit should include more than a couple of band-aids and some Neosporin. At the very least, it should have a tourniquet, bandages, gauze, a nasopharyngeal airway tube, nitrile gloves, surgical tape, a face shield, and trauma shears. Most trauma kits will include these items. Guns&Ammo suggests purchasing a basic Operator IFAK.
Instances When First Aid is Needed on The Range
Most firearm accidents occur because of ignorance and carelessness. If you are being safe, there shouldn’t be any need for a first aid kit. However, even firearm owners that properly store their weapons and go through the checklist of safety precautions before firing their gun may experience gun malfunctions. Thankfully, these malfunctions typically don’t cause severe injuries, but it is always best to be safe.
Precautions Every Shooter Should Take To Avoid Injury
Every shooter should be keenly aware of gun safety. The NRA has gun safety rules in place to keep everyone safe.
The basic rules of gun safety include the following:
- Always point your gun in a safe direction.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- Always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
Additionally, shooters and firearm owners should:
- Know what they are shooting at and what is beyond it.
- Know how to use the gun safely.
- Make sure the gun is safe to operate.
- Only use the ammunition meant for the gun.
- Wear appropriate eye and ear protection.
- Never use alcohol or drugs while shooting.
- Store guns in a safe place.
- Be aware of any additional safety precautions involved with the firearm or activity.
- Clean your guns regularly.
How A Cleaning Kit Will Benefit You
It’s the worst when you’re at the range, shooting match, or hunting trip, and your gun jams or doesn’t shoot accurately. Cleaning your firearm regularly will ensure it runs well.
7 Essential Shooting Supply Items Your Gun Cleaning Kit Should Have
If you buy a caliber-specific cleaning kit it should have all of the products and tools you will need to clean your gun. However, if you would rather only purchase the necessities, these are the seven basic items you will need in your essential shooting supplies.
A solvent helps loosen copper, lead, powder fowling, and ammunition powder from your barrel and other metal components, which could make the difference between a properly functioning and accurate gun and a malfunctioning one. For advice on solvents to consider, check out this gun-cleaning solvent article by Outdoor Life.
This product is a light oil used to help reduce friction in moving parts, drive out dust, and minimize rust buildup. Using lubricating oil on your gun will help reduce jamming and other malfunctions that typically occur when your gun starts to get too grimy.
Typically, this tool is stainless steel or aluminum. It is a long single-piece or multiple-piece rod that you slowly move back and forth through the barrel to move the solvent through the barrel and bring the loosened debris out of the gun.
Rod End Accessories:
Generally, rod end accessories include either slotted patch holders or a bore brush that attaches to the end of your cleaning rod to reach the grime and pull it out. Which rod end accessory you want on your cleaning rod depends on your stage in the cleaning process.
Patches are typically a 100% cotton material placed on the end of your cleaning rod and soaked in cleaning solvent or left dry to help remove grime from the barrel. Which patch size to get depends on your barrel size.
After cleaning the inside and moving parts, you can use a silicon cloth to wipe the reassembled gun’s surface. These cloths are pre-treated with silicon lubricant to remove leftover debris and acidic prints.
A rubber cleaning mat protects your gun while you take it apart to clean it. It also protects the work surface from the chemicals used to clean and lubricate the firearm.
A Beginners Quick Guide to Gun Cleaning
Here are 8 steps to cleaning a gun:
- Loosen Debris: First, use a dry bore brush to help loosen the debris in the barrel.
- Add Solvent: A cleaning patch dipped in solvent attached to a slotted patch holder then goes through the barrel and out the other side.
- Scrub Berral: After waiting 10 to 15 minutes for the solvent to break down the remaining fowling, use a dry bore bush to scrub the barrel.
- Use Dry Cleaning Patches: Then run dry cleaning patches through the barrel until they come out clean.
- Add Lubricant: A pull-through tool, like a bore snake, with light lubricant on it, is then put through the barrel to help prevent excessive build-up and corrosion in the future.
- Clean the Rest Of Your Gun: After cleaning the bore, it’s time to clean the barrel exterior, barrel hood, barrel lug, and feed ramp. Then follow a similar procedure to clean and lubricate the action.
- Clean Your Mags: Now it’s time to clean the magazines with a residue-free solvent or cleaning agent.
- Reassemble and Surface Clean: Once you are done cleaning and lubricating the inside and moving parts, it’s time to reassemble the gun, perform a function check, and wipe down the surface with a silicon cloth.
How Often You Should Clean Your Gun
How often you should clean your firearm depends on how many rounds you put through it, the type of ammo, and the shooting conditions. Firing a few shots in an indoor gun range doesn’t put nearly as much wear and tear on your gun as firing boxes of ammo outside in a dusty desert.
That said, the rifling finish quality probably plays the most significant role in how often you should clean your gun, especially when breaking in a firearm. According to a barrel care Guns&Ammo article, high-quality lapped barrels usually start firing consistently with cleanings between every few shots after 10 to 15 rounds. However, a mass-produced barrel may take 100 to 200 bullets before the barrel settles in, and copper fouling decreases enough per shot to increase the number of rounds per cleaning.
While cleaning your gun after every use doesn’t hurt, it may not be necessary. At the very least, you should clean your barrel at regular intervals to prevent excessive fouling buildup. Getting in the habit of cleaning your bore about every 100 rounds after breaking it in will prevent heavy fouling buildup, making it easier to clean the gun and maintain the consistency of its performance and accuracy.
Discover The Necessary Tools For Gun Maintenance
Maintaining your gun means you need to take it apart and tighten or loosen different aspects of it. To do that you need specific tools in your essential shooting supplies.
Essential Shooting Supplies for Gun Owners
- Bench blocks: A bench block will lift the gun off your work surface. It will protect your firearm and your work area from getting marred.
- Screwdriver set: You will want a screwdriver for changing grips, sights, and the like.
- Cleaning rod: While you want a cleaning rod for periodic bore cleaning, you will also want one on hand as a knock-out rod on the range to make sure the bore is clear.
- Inch and metric Allen or Hex wrenches: Most of the time, you will only need a standard wrench set, but if you have a European firearm, a metic set may also be necessary.
- Punches and hammer: A roll pin punch set is essential for driving out any pins in your firearm. A tap with a non-marring nylon hammer could also free up a frozen part of your gun.
- Vise: If you have a workbench to attach it to, a vise can make working on your gun a lot easier.
- Eye protection: Eye protection is important while shooting and working on your gun. Eye protection while working on your firearm could stop a spring in the gun from flying into your eye.
All-In-One Tool Kits
If you want an all-in-one tool kit, Fix It Sticks has a selection of all-in-one tool kits. These kits are excellent in-field repair tools because they are compact and easy to use.
While not included on our basic list of tools needed for gun maintenance, a torque wrench is necessary. For consistency, you need the correct torque applied to the fasteners of your firearm. Whether you use a manual torque wrench or a digital wrench, it allows repeatable and accurate torque settings on different parts of the gun.
How to Protect Your Firearms With Gun Cases and Safes
Guns should never be carelessly lying around. That is how accidents happen. When you get a gun, you need to keep it safely stored when not in use. There are a couple of different forms that this can take.
When You Should Use A Gun Carrying Case
The only time your gun should be out is when you are actively shooting, fixing, or cleaning it. You can’t even walk onto a gun range without your firearm in a gun case, range bag, or holster because it communicates to everyone else that you aren’t a threat and that you are being safe.
Hard Cases Vs. Soft Cases
Which type of case to get depends on your intended use. Soft cases are typically a better option for hunting trips because they are lightweight, easy to carry, and can be waterproofed and designed to float.
A hard case is a better essential shooting supplies option if you plan on traveling with your gun or need to provide a more secure storage option. These cases typically have foam padding and hard plastic outer shells. Some also come with built-in locking mechanisms or locking points.
When You Should Get A Gun Safe
If you only have a gun or two that are already safely secured in a hard case with a lock, then you don’t need a gun safe. However, if you have one or multiple firearms that don’t have a locked hard case, you should probably invest in a safe as part of your essential shooting supplies.
You can get a small gun safe for one or two handguns that secures onto a shelf in your house. It is worth looking into a large in-home or garage gun safe when you accumulate more than one or two firearms. You will want to ensure that your safe is specifically for guns because it will have secure spots in the safe for your firearms.
Which Targets To Use and When
No matter if you’re on the gun range to have some fun or practicing for a hunt, self-defense, or competition, you need a target as part of your essential shooting supplies. However, which target is the best option depends on your shooting objective.
Common Shooting Target Materials
There are several different target materials out there. According to a Gun Digest article about selecting shooting targets, the five most commonly used target materials include paper, cardboard, clay, steel, and polymer.
- Paper: Paper targets are popular in indoor shooting ranges. This material is a good choice for determining your shoot groups, sighting in your gun, or tallying scores.
- Cardboard: Cardboard targets are more durable than paper, making them a better option for outdoor ranges, but because they aren’t as cheap as paper, they typically are used as a backer for a paper target, allowing multiple shooters to use the same target.
- Clay: Clay targets, also known as clay pigeons, are typically used for shotguns. They are thrown in the air and shatter when shot.
- Steel: Steel targets are the most durable target material. You can shoot a steel target over and over for years and still have a usable target. They also make an audible sound when hit. However, the drawbacks are that they are heavy, it’s a little harder to tell where you have shot them, and they are more expensive.
- Polymer: Polymer targets are reactive when shot, making shooting them more enjoyable than paper, cardboard, and stationary steel targets. They also last longer than paper, cardboard, or clay targets because they self-heal.
Shooting Target Type Purposes
Which target type to use depends on your goals. There are a couple of target types to consider.
These target types include:
- Accuracy: Accuracy targets help shooters evaluate and improve their marksmanship. The most common accuracy targets include bullseye and sight-in targets.
- Feedback: A feedback target lets the shooter know if hit soon after firing at them. The most common feedback targets are made from steel because you can hear the ping of the bullet hitting the metal. However, reactive targets that either move, change color, bleed, or explode when hit are also feedback targets.
- Skill-Based: skill-based targets help shooters develop skills for different tasks. Clays are skill-based targets for bird hunting, silhouettes are typical for self-defense, and game targets help hunters aim for animal vitals.
The Economics Of Shooting Targets
Which shooting targets are the best economic choice depends on how often you shoot, the range location, and your goals. If you don’t shoot often, shooting paper is the most frugal option. However, if you are practicing for a bird hunt, clays are the cheapest way to practice this skill.
If you go outdoors and set up targets, steel targets will literally give you the most bang for your buck. However, if you shoot at an outdoor range that includes steel or polymer targets in the price, there is no need to spend more on targets.
How the Right Ammo and Mags Make a Difference
The magazine and ammunition you use in your gun can make a dramatic difference in the functionality and accuracy of the firearm. That is why it’s imperative to determine the best products for your firearm.
Competition vs. Hunting Ammo
The two main shooting hobbies include hunting and competitive shooting. However, the types of bullets you need for these are very different.
When shooting competitively, you need an aerodynamically sound bullet so you can improve the consistency of your shots. Consistency is extremely important in competition shooting because you are often trying to repetitively hit small targets.
Hunters also need consistency. However, consistency isn’t nearly as important as picking the right caliber for the animal. Picking a bullet that will drop an animal the first time will save you from having to track it down and potentially lose it.
Determining Which Ammo To Use
To determine the correct ammo for your gun, look at the side of the barrel for the barrel stamp. The stamp will tell you the specific caliber your gun needs or the gauge and length of the chamber. Within this caliber or gauge, you will have several bullet-type options.
Which bullet type you need depends on your intended purpose. A jacked hollow point is a common self-defense bullet type because of its stopping power. Soft point ammo is often used for hunting because it creates a large hole. Truncated cone and flat-nose bullets are better for target shooting because of their aerodynamics and clean holes.
How Different Mags Make A Difference
The magazine you use in your gun isn’t as important as the ammunition, but it still makes a difference in your shooting experience, which makes them essential shooting supplies. Having a larger mag will allow you to shoot more rounds before reloading a mag. Some mags are designed to be easier to load, making the loading process smoother and less time-consuming, especially for less experienced shooters.
How to Choose The Right Range Bag For Your Needs
The perfect range bag depends on how often and where you go shooting. If you don’t go shooting very often, you probably won’t have as much to carry, so a range bag that can hold the essentials will do the job. However, if you’ve shot for a while, you have probably accumulated more equipment, such as shooting bags and a shooting mat, and you will want a range bag that is large enough to carry your essential shooting supplies as well as this equipment.
The Essential Shooting Supplies Your Range Bag Should Hold
At a minimum, a range bag should be large enough to hold range maintenance and cleaning equipment, a first aid kit, eye and hearing protection, ammo, and spare mags. If you are carrying multiple pistols or even just one, a bag that can also hold your handgun(s) in its case will make it easier.
Choosing A Range Bag For Your Shooting Style
Another factor to consider when choosing a range bag is where you go shooting. If you only shoot indoors, you can probably get away with a basic duffle bag. However, if you prefer outdoor ranges, shoot competitive outdoor matches, or go hunting, you will want a weatherproof bag.
Duffle Bags Vs. Range Bags
While you need a bag for your gear, what kind you get is a personal preference. Often a duffle bag will do the job. You can even get a heavy-duty hiking backpack duffle hybrid with plenty of pockets and space for all your gear.
The main difference between a duffle bag and a range bag is that the designers of these bags had gun enthusiasts in mind, making these bags more intuitive to use.
How to Get More Out Of Your Gun With These Nice-To-Haves
While you can get by with a basic gun, there are some nice-to-have additions that will improve your shooting experience. Below are a few nice-to-have items that you might want to consider adding to your essential shooting supplies.
Adding a Scope or Sight to Your Shooting Essentials List
Adding a riflescope will help you see targets at greater distances, so you can accurately aim at them. Scopes also allow you to determine how far off your shots are so you can adjust.
Sights are typically put on handguns so you can more easily aim at your target. You can get everything from three-dot sights and red-dot sights to night sights.
The Difference An Aftermarket Trigger Makes
Everyone has their trigger preference. Some people like triggers that go off with a tap. Others prefer to pull back a bit more before the gun shoots. Neither is wrong, but when you find the one you favor, you will probably want to switch all your rifles and guns to a similar trigger pull weight.
Stabilizing Equipment to Consider in Your Shooting Essentials
If you have a rifle, you will probably want stabilizing equipment. Some options include bipods, tripods, slings, and shooting bags.
- Bipod: A bipod will give you more control and stability when you shoot prone.
- Tripod: A tripod provides stability when kneeling, sitting, or standing. However, tripods are a little more time-consuming to set up, so shooters often opt for slings when they need extra stability while kneeling, sitting, or standing during a shot.
- Slings: A sling attaches to the rifle and then is positioned on a stationary object or your body to provide extra stability.
- Shooting Bags: Shooting bags go under the rifle to provide the support needed to take a shot. Often these bags have a tacky waxed surface, so they don’t move as easily.
Why It’s Nice to Have a Shooting Mat
A quality shooting mat will save your knees and elbows during a shooting match or outdoor shooting range. These mats aren’t nearly as common for hunting because it’s something else you have to carry, and you often don’t have time to set up a mat during a hunt. However, if you have to hide in the bush for a couple of hours and wait for the game to come to you, it’s nice to have a shooting mat.
How Elite Additions Can Improve Your Shooting Game
There are a lot of fun gun accessories. Some are fairly inexpensive, and then there are the elite additions. That said, not all elite equipment is necessary to shoot your best. Below are some higher-end additions that are worth considering for your essential shooting supplies.
Suppressors and Muzzle Brakes
Adding a suppressor or muzzle brake to your rifle will decrease the noise and recoil of your rifle. The reduced noise from a silencer can help in a hunt, but in almost any other situation, it’s just fun to have a quiet gun. However, reducing the recoil with a muzzle brake or suppressor can help improve consistency, which is ideal in every shooting situation.
The Importance of Range Finders
A range finder will help you determine how far out your target is, so you can set your rifle up for the right distance. There are lots of range-finder products on the market; there are even range-finding binoculars.
Adding Tactical Clothing to Your Shooting Essentials
Tactical clothing is more than having a million pockets and camo-printed fabric. Quality tactical clothing provides the support you need during every situation. One quality tactical clothing brand is UF PRO. Their clothing has removable cushions that you can add to the elbows and knees and is designed to breathe in the summer and keep you warm in the winter, so you can shoot no matter the weather.
Why Weather Meters Improve Your Shooting
You can use an app to determine the weather in your area and the resulting setup for your rifle. However, these apps aren’t nearly as precise as a weather meter taking in-the-moment readings. When you are ready to level up your shooting game, a weather meter is a great way to do it.
This wraps up the Anarchy Outdoors guide to essential shooting supplies. Let us know what you think. If we missed something, message us, we want to know.