With our good friend and valued contributor Andy N from Calibre Shooting back in the fold, he shares the experience he has gained both in the UK military and as a trainer as he brings us a training solution that could be invaluable to any airsofter as he gives the lowdown on his “Range in a Bag”!!!
When you’re doing the rounds on square ranges, whether it’s for personal gain or for tactics training it can be a little laborious to say the least. Even the most sophisticated and high tech range can seem like a place of doom and gloom. But what if you find yourself on a private range in the middle of nowhere, or in a dark corner of your local site, and with few and slim resources? How would you go about setting up targets to practice those new and old skills?
I want to introduce you to my portable or mobile range bag. I have three range bags; one for indoor training with minimal kit, a bag for outdoor training with almost everything I need for a full day on the range whatever the weather, and my mobile range bag.
There have been many times that I’ve had to improvise, adapt, and overcome during training sessions both on a purpose-built range and in the middle of nowhere. It can be hard and frustrating at the best of times when you struggle to make do with only what you have to hand. So I decided to put together a bag with all that I need to build a range (well, target system anyway). It may not be the best nor the prettiest of systems, but when you have absolutely nothing to hand this, to me, has proved a life saver in my professional career. Quite a few chaps who have had the privilege to use my mobile range bag have gone on to put one together for themselves.
My first task was to plan it to be portable enough to take on any deployment I may find myself on. Everything had to be compressed into a large sports hold-all which was not too cumbersome and heavy. This took lots of trial and error before I got just what I needed, but my final result was workable.
My first problem was the target stand. For this I used 35mm poly pipe the kind you find in a plumbers merchants or hardware store. I cut lengths of pipe to fit into the bag with T-joints and bends to construct the shape. I also added a couple of straight connections for when the pipe gets damaged, so I can make a quick repair. I use sticky tape to hold the paper target to the stand once constructed. As for the targets themselves I use basically whatever I can lay my hands on at the time. If it’s available, I will use a role of lining paper, the type that decorators use when papering a wall. This is cheap and easy to get hold of in most places. Once secured in place with your trusty sticky tape you are free to draw or spray paint wherever targets you want. The poly pipe structure is lightweight and very sturdy for what it is but it will need to be secured to the ground in order to stop it falling over in the wind. For this I have used rocks, sandbags and even filled the pipes with dirt from the ground before now. I’ve rarely had any issues with these methods.
Although I am no Picasso, I decided to also produce some simple stencils to accompany the bag. On my home range we use stencils made from hardboard, however this was not an option in this case. I obtained some thin card and cutaway the desired size and shapes needed to make my target stencils; again not the best in the world but workable under the circumstances. I added tabs to the shapes so I could hold them up to the target paper and spray them with vehicle paint if it was to hand, failing that I could use a marker pen to draw around them. I also cut out some shoot/no shoot target stencils too. This gave me the opportunity to add target identification drills into the mix.
The other items that I have included are coloured marker pens, a roll of duct-tape (for hanging targets and repairs), some coloured sticky dots for patching up the target and a retractable blade. Once the target is constructed it’s easily moved around on the range if desired. I was able to transport four target stands in one hold-all including all the necessary kit needed to keep the range going. The lengths of the poly pipe depends on the type of targets you are going to use and also the size of the hold-all that you are going to use to transport it in.
As I said it’s not the best nor is it the most sophisticated setup, but it sure beats shooting at rocks in the middle of the desert!