Leaving an essential piece of kit at home can put an end to a day’s sport. Mike Morton suggests using a range box to make sure this isn’t an issue.
You’re heading off for a day’s shooting and are excited at the prospect of some great airgun action. You’ve prepared your rifle and have gathered up your regular ammo – it’s a thoroughly reliable pellet that you know shoots like a dream in your specific combo.
In the case of a multi-shot PCP, you’ve made sure the rifle’s been topped up with air to exactly the right pressure, and you’ve double-checked you’re bringing along the correct magazine.
You’ve also thought about your clothing and have put together an assortment of suitable items for your trip, whether it’s to the hunting field or to the range.
If it’s hunting, you’ve gathered your rangefinder, hide, hide poles and beanbag seat – and of course you’ve packed some food and drink. You’re all set to get out there and have fun.
Ticking these items off your mental checklist is pretty much a given for most seasoned airgun shooters, and if you remember to take all of the above to your shoot, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a great day’s sport.
But what if you arrive and find you’ve lost zero? What if you see your scope has shifted slightly in its mounts? What if you didn’t bring as many pellets as you thought?
What if your rifle’s not grouping properly and you think there’s a bit too much lead in the bore? If only you’d brought along a few extra items to solve all these problems. Well, don’t be a member of the ‘if only’ club. A little bit of preparation is all it takes to make a big difference. And that’s where the range box comes in.
Despite its name, the range box holds pieces of kit for any type of shooting, not just the range. You can leave it in the back of your car at your permission, in your club car park or at your next HFT venue.
The crucial thing is that you’ve brought it with you. And provided it contains the right items, it really can answer that SOS call and Save Our Shoot if something goes awry. Most of the time you won’t even need to open it – but when you do, it’ll prove invaluable.
Better yet, the range box can help not just you, but your fellow shooters too. The contents of my range box have helped save my own shoot on a number of occasions, but they’ve also been able to save a fair few other people’s as well – one notable case being a torn O-ring on a pellet probe. Having such a small, but specific, item readily to hand really did save the day for one of my shooting buddies.
My own range box is made by MTM, although there are plenty of alternatives, and this one has been specifically designed for carrying shooting gear.
The Shooters Range Box has various segmented compartments in a removable lid section, and the main unit underneath contains two removable plastic forks that can be slotted into the base to provide a rifle support.
A range box like this is incredibly useful, and is brilliant if you’ve got the money, but it’s far from essential if cash is tight. Before I bought my MTM, I was using a Stanley toolbox, which didn’t have the former’s rifle rest, but did offer loads of carrying capacity. Prior to that, I just used an old sports bag.
Just remember, anything’s better than nothing, and taking a fully stocked range box to your next shoot means the day won’t be wasted if something’s gone wrong.
That shift in zero, wonky scope or lack of pellets no longer mean the end of your shoot. Now they’re just a mild inconvenience that can easily be fixed. And the shoot can go on!
In the box
A day’s sport can be ruined by the smallest of things such as a split breech seal or damaged pellet probe O-ring – I always carry spares.
It’s wise to check zero before you start shooting in earnest – these zeroing targets from Gr8fun Targets are very handy to have around in a pinch.
First aid kit
Like many of the items in my range box, a first aid kit is something I don’t expect to use and hope I won’t need – but it’s there nonetheless.
Boxes like this MTM Shooters Range Box and the Nitehawk Shooting Range Box feature removable forks that can be slotted in place to hold a rifle.
Some gun clubs will insist you wear hearing protection – this is a spare set in case I forget my regular ear defenders.
A small torch can be very handy for peering into the various nooks and crannies of an airgun if you’re carrying out an in-the-field adjustment or repair.
Coins are useful for doing a quick check of group size – I typically like to see 5p-sized groups at closer ranges and 10p-sized ones at greater distances.
BBs and capsules
Although the majority of my airgun action involves shooting pellets, I enjoy BB guns too and like to carry a spare tin of BBs as well as some CO2 capsules.
I like to keep a few tins of pellets on hand in both .177 and .22 – these are back-up tins only, not my main source of ammo for the day’s shooting.
The humble toothbrush is brilliant for tasks like brushing the grit off a magazine that’s been dropped on the ground.
Sometimes the simplest tools are the most useful – this cotton bud with the ends removed is perfect for removing unfired pellets from a magazine.
Lubing pellets is a job best done at home, but the lube itself can be used as a makeshift bore cleaner in conjunction with felt pellets or a BoreSnake.
I use a Javelin bipod that accepts swappable legs of different lengths. I rarely use the longer set, but keep them with me just in case.
Oils and lubricants are usually supplied in bulky containers, but can often be found in one-use sachets which are far easier to carry around.
My particular range box is segmented into an upper and lower section, and the upper section has two lift-out trays, making it easy to organise.
A compact bubble level is great for marking reference lines on a paper target to verify the crosshairs of your scope are level.
A tube of thread lock is perfect if you ever have to refit a scope or wobbly moderator, either for yourself or a fellow shooter.
Use support forks
This range box features removable rifle supports that can be fitted into different slots to change the way the rifle sits.
In more detail
It’s simple enough to check zero by shooting a fallen acorn or twig, but a proper card target makes it easier to see if your zero has shifted and by how much.
These little cards will show you at a glance whether you’re on target or not, and if not by how much you need to adjust. You can get by just by shooting at a natural target, but card targets are quicker to use – provided, of course, you remember to bring some with you.
Bubble level and hex keys
A spirit level used in conjunction with some small bubble levels makes refitting a scope a fairly straightforward task.
The set of Allen/hex keys made by PB Swiss Tools is a bit of a luxury item. I used to carry a selection of hex keys that I’d gathered over the years that had originally been supplied with various guns, scopes and mounts.
These worked well enough, but the PB Swiss Tools set is colour-coded for size, so it’s much quicker to locate the correct hex key.
It’s far easier to clean a gun at home, but if you do need to do it at the range or in the field, carry the right products so you can do the job properly.
Grease should be used sparingly, but is very useful for making bolts and sidelevers operate more smoothly. Grease is also good for applying to threads to make sure the items don’t bind.
First aid kit
Accidents involving airguns are incredibly rare – think of a first aid kit as an insurance policy that will hopefully never be needed.
What’s far more likely to happen is for you to pick up a small cut, scratch, splinter or insect bite.
Clean it with an antiseptic wipe as soon as you get the chance, especially if you’ve grazed yourself on some barbed wire.
If you’re hunting, you’ll already be carrying a knife with your main kit, but a back-up knife is always handy. Just remember that under current UK knife legislation, you can’t carry a knife in public without good reason – unless it’s a knife with a non-lockable folding blade that’s three inches long (7.62cm) or less.
The Böker knife at the top of this photo fulfils this criteria, while the Ontario RAT underneath is not suitable for everyday carry. You can still take it to your shoot, though, as that constitutes a good reason to have it with you – but don’t take it to the pub on the way home, as that most definitely doesn’t!
Whenever you use a knife, be it your main blade or your back-up blade, it needs to be sharp to be of any use, so do be sure to maintain it and sharpen it periodically.
The hard plastic support forks on this range box have been coated with a rubberised material to help protect your stock and grip the rifle firmly.
Some rifle clubs will have a bench installed with an armourer’s vice. If you use one of these to support your gun, do take care not to damage your rifle or stock, protecting it with plenty of padding.
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