Your Gun Range First Aid Kit

Spending time on the range is always fun. But we have to remember that there is a certain element of risk too. Even at the safest range, there is still a risk of injury. Sometimes it’s an accident, and sometimes a health issue. But being prepared is prudent. Here are some thoughts about a gun range first aid kit.

Location Matters

While indoor ranges are often in urban areas with EMS response times that are quick, outdoor ranges are not. Typically, they will be in less populated areas, meaning response times can be lengthened. One instructor I know was teaching a class in a rural area when a student had a heart attack. It took 24 minutes for the ambulance to arrive after 911 was called. That student lived, but that was due in large part to the fact that an AED was available. If you are going to be in more remote areas, you may need more gear. That may include an AED depending on your situation. Also, you may need to prepare for heat or cold injuries depending on where you are.

Bleeding Control

Of course, the biggest threat here is a bleeding injury. It could come from a negligent discharge or from someone ignoring the 4 Universal Rules of Firearms Safety. But it could also be due to equipment failures/issues or even a ricochet. Regardless of the cause, immediate action is needed. A severed femoral artery can bleed out in as little as 90 seconds. With that in mind, you should have:

  • a Co-TCCC recommended tourniquet on your person. There’s truly no reason why one can’t be on your belt or in a pocket.
  • Wound packing gauze (hemostatic or plain)
  • Chest seals
  • A pressure bandage.
  • Shears
  • Gloves
  • CPR face shield

Beware of Fake Tourniquets

While the tourniquet should be on you, the rest can be in a grab-and-go type of pouch. It is in addition to the SAM XT tourniquet on my belt. This bleeding control kit from Rescue Essential is an excellent choice. The MOLLE straps allow it to easily attach to a belt or backpack. I carry one in all my vehicles all the time and it comes out on the range with me.

Why I Love the SAM XT Tourniquet

General Injuries

Of course, not everything is going to be covered with your bleeding control kit. Cuts, scrapes, bee stings and the like all happen from time to time. These would be good items to have available in your gun range first aid kit:

  • Band-Aids (various sizes)
  • Gauze pads and tape
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Bee sting relief swabs
  • Elastic bandage
  • Tylenol
  • Splinter removal kit
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Eyewash
  • Splint
  • Instant ice packs
  • Burn treatment (from hot brass or hot gun barrels)
  • Other things as you see fit.

Premade or Homemade

There are a lot of good, premade kits that you can use as your gun range first aid kit. This first aid kit from Redi is a good choice for a full medical kit. If you’re looking for a more economical version, this kit may fit the need. (Note: what it calls a tourniquet will not help you control bleeding).

You can, of course, create your own. It’s tough to beat the commercial kits in terms of the sheer amount of stuff. You may never use all of it, but it’s nice to have it when you need it. And, it’s really a lot of unnecessary work. But if that’s how you want to roll, rock on.

I prefer a hybrid approach. I start with a good commercial first aid kit, then augment it with items I’ve learned to include over the years. Additional tourniquets may be a good choice. Israeli bandages are also a good addition to any kit. I normally carry glucose gel packs in my kits. (I’ve run across more diabetics in need than I have gunshot wounds.)  

More Than Stuff

Having all the stuff is great, but knowing how to effectively use it is even better. A Stop the Bleed class is 2 short hours. A CPR/AED class is 4 hours. First Aid is 2. Look for an instructor with current certifications from reputable providers like HSI/ASHI, Red Cross, Heart Association or others. We can teach those classes for you. If you’re not in our area, we can help you find a legitimate instructor near you. Just contact us.

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  1. Gordon Romeis on April 24, 2024 at 8:14 am

    Absolutely essential. I carry kits in both my vehicles. I also carry one on my boat. One Coast Guard acquaintance of mine told me very few boat propeller injuries have a good outcome due to blood loss.

    • Alan Hughes on April 25, 2024 at 8:51 am

      And being on the water can delay responders even longer.

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