Shooting Sports Essentials

Jan 19, 2024

Shooting Sports Athlete
In the world of sports and hobbies, both enthusiasts and novices often find themselves navigating through a sea of equipment options, each claiming to be a necessity for success.

To ease this stress, the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) team has compiled a list of the shooting sports essentials needed to enjoy trap, skeet, or sporting clays, whether it be for competition or leisure. 

A range bag is “designed to simplify the process of preparing for a day at the range, ensuring that all equipment is organized and easily accessible.” These bags are available online, at many outdoor stores and shooting ranges. Alternatively, a backpack can also do the trick, as long as it accommodates all of your gear.

Upon joining shooting associations, you’ll receive a physical membership card by mail. Registered competitions through the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA), the National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA), and the National Skeet Shooting Association (NSSA), will require athletes to have their membership cards for sign-up and check-in. Some gun clubs also issue physical cards to members to present at checkout for discounted rates. It is recommended that all membership cards live in your range bag to prevent losing or forgetting them.

To preserve hearing, it is essential to wear ear protection with a noise reduction rating (NRR) of at least 25 dB while on the range. These protective measures come in various options, all deriving from the traditional earmuffs and earplugs. Explore Ear Protection Options >>>

Shooting glasses are a vital piece of safety gear, offering protection against unexpected elements. They come in an array of lens colors, each serving a specific purpose. To maintain clarity and prevent smudges and fingerprints, keep a cloth and lens cleaner in your range bag. Enhance Your Shooting Vision >>> 

What’s great about shotguns is that a plethora of options exist, ensuring accessibility to the sport regardless of budget, activity, or size. In clay target shooting, a 12-gauge and a 20-gauge shotgun are the most common choices. Find the Right Shotgun for You >>> 

Once you’ve chosen your shotgun, the next step is selecting the appropriate ammunition. The optimal speed, size, and type of shells all depend on your activity. Wondering Which Ammunition Suits Your Needs? >>> 

To keep your ammunition easily accessible on the range, you’ll need a convenient storage option. Two choices exist. Which Should You Pick? >>>

A choke tube helps restrict your shot pattern down the range, increasing your chance of hitting the clay target. A Guide to Choosing Choke Tubes >>> 

While a detailed cleaning after each range visit is not necessary, it is good practice to carry compact, individually packaged gun cleaning wipes for a quick clean before returning your shotgun to its case.  Additionally, a boresnake to clean the inside of your barrels is another useful tool to have on hand. Save a more comprehensive cleaning kit at home for post-range maintenance.

Hydration is key, no matter the temperature! Make sure you always have water on hand by keeping a reusable bottle in your range bag. While numerous options exist on the market, those seeking space-saving solutions can find collapsible bottles in the camping or hiking section of their local sporting goods store.

It’s no secret that the weather in our home state of Tennessee can be unpredictable. Don’t let scattered showers deter you from heading to the range, especially since experiencing inclement weather during competitions is inevitable. Keep a rain jacket in your bag or vehicle as a precaution. Many athletes also find it helpful to have a towel clipped either to their vest or pouch, or stored in their bag. Not only does this prove useful during rain, but great in the sweaty summer months.

Many great coaches recommend keeping a shooting journal as a valuable tool to enhance your mental game and work towards goals. Regular journaling enables you to track scores which reveals trends in performances and helps identify areas for improvement.

There are several “assorted items” that should also find a place in your range bag, including: 

  • Basic First Aid Supplies
  • Sunscreen
  • Gun Grease
  • Electrical Tape
  • Multitool/Allen Wrench
  • Pocket Knife
  • Wad Knocker

As you frequent the range more often, you will quickly identify additional essentials you need for a productive day at the range. You can also engage in at-home training exercises on days when a range visit is not possible. 

With this list of shooting sports essentials, the Tennessee SCTP team strives to empower those stepping out onto the range for the first time with the confidence and knowledge needed to have a successful shooting career. To learn more about the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program, visit tnsctp.org

More From Tennessee Wildlife Federation