When I went to my first match I brought the bare basics. I really didn’t know what to bring other than the few things the form told me to bring. I have been to around 10 events, so I am not a gristled veteran of the competition circuit, but there are some things I wish I could have brought along and have since learned along the way.
We all have a general idea of the good spare items to bring. Most of these items go with you every trip to the range:
- Rifle (and spare rifle)
- Spare parts: extra bolt, extra firing pin
- Sight adjustment tool
- Chamber flag
- Eyes and ears
- Extra ammo and mags
The Other Stuff:
Then there are other things that were not so obvious to me on my first match. I started bringing these things to every match since I started to learn that some things get too hot and other things need fixing.
- Gloves: a 100 round string of fire can get your rifle too hot to hold. Wear gloves if the event is a non-stop course of fire.
- Stapler: People need help putting up targets. Bring your own stapler and help.
- Dump Pouch: Extremely useful to place on your range bag. I dump range brass here, trash, and everything else when it’s time to go home.
- Water on your person: Don’t leave a bottle of water in the car or at the bench. Carry water on your range bag or a Camelbak.
- Duct tape: Sometimes targets need repair or the frames need a little TLC. I keep a roll in my car.
- First aid: Basic trauma essentials are wise to have. Others might have extra stuff but at the very least have a worthy compression bandage handy.
- Spotting scope: I only have a basic (cheap) scope. It does what I need it to do.
- Para-cord: Again sometimes the targets need repair. We have had people shoot the string off of a plastic swinger. Whoops.
- Spare shot timer: I don’t have one of these yet… but I have seen two shot timers break during events. Might be handy to bring.
- Good range bag: I had a bulldog case at first with no storage. Sucks. I have a Condor nylon case with molle web gear. Much more organized.
- Glock 19: Sometimes the event suddenly becomes “lets throw in a pistol portion for fun after the match.”
- Tarp or shooting mat: Things can get pretty muddy. Invest in one of these sooner rather than later.
One of the items I didn’t mention in my list is to bring a good attitude. There are plenty of times where people show up with some nice gear (Acogs, high dollar weapons, etc.), but there are plenty of times when their guns fail or the guy with the A1 iron sights comes around and schools everybody. Look at your score, look at your mistakes, and the next time you hit the range work on correcting them. So far I have never seen anyone “lose it” at a competition. I do think that some people might not come back due to ego bruising, but I have no way of knowing that. It’s embarrassing when your rifle starts to sputter or you can’t hit the steel. Been there. The value is that the next time I go I will fix the errors and continue to improve my game.
Don’t forget that competitions are a great gear show. People will share their thoughts on setups, optics, and everything else. Plenty of people borrow and handle weapons after the match. This is a great way to get hands on with gear before you decide to buy.
That guy with the A1 carbine comes around often and scores very well. I am pretty sure he only owns one gun.