First Aid Kit for Your Range Bag
In your lifetime you are ten times more likely to find yourself in a position to save a life using first aid vs. using a gun. You elect to carry a gun to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious injury and death. Even more critical to have close at hand is an individual first aid kit (IFAK) and the knowledge to use it.
The types of medical supplies to have accessible while shooting on the range are the same items you should have for your other activities on the go. I take along the same portable kit for shooting, driving, and wilderness hiking.
You can also assemble your own kit from scratch and draw on products from multiple vendors. No matter what supplies you select, you should train periodically with the exact equipment you carry. Be familiar with every item and go through the motions of hands-on practice at least once a year.
I am a minimalist and I’m also particular about selecting each item in my kit. I tote the bare minimum supplies for trauma first aid, and I seek out product quality and ultimate portability. Below is the full inventory of my kit. I share this for the purpose of giving some inspiration to anyone who is considering building out their own first aid provisions. All together I paid $200 for this load. I don’t engage in any affiliate links or ads, so these recommendations are based on personal choice to protect myself and family, not on any desire to advertise or monetize.
I pack everything in a pouch from Blue Force Gear. This Medium Vertical Utility Pouch ($56) comes in multiple colors and measures 2.5” x 10.5” x 6”. It’s lightweight with durable construction, but nothing uniquely special about its functionality. Any other similar size pouch would do. I stitched on a cheap medical patch from Amazon so it’s clear what is inside. If ever I’m an incoherent injury victim I would hope for others at the scene to realize that there are medical supplies at hand.
For items to stop the bleed, I pack:
Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T) Gen 7 ($30) from North American Rescue. It’s the official tourniquet of the U.S. Army, built for portability and for use with one hand if you are in the predicament to self-administer. A competing alternative, just as good, is the SOF Tactical Tourniquet from Tactical Medical Solutions, available at a similar price.
For packing wounds, I include two units of H&H Compressed Gauze (2 @ $5/ea). Each unfolds to 4.5” by 12’.
Then it’s more gauze -- one pack of QuikClot by Z-Medica ($20). That unfurls to 3" by 4'. This gauze is infused with kaolin, an inorganic mineral that accelerates the natural clotting process.
Gauze is used in tandem with a compression dressing to stop severe blood loss. For compression I carry the H&H Thin H Bandage Compression Dressing ($10). In this sterile sealed bag you get a 4” by 7.5” gauze pad (…yet more gauze) and a strong elastic strap. The strap has an attached plastic cleat in the shape of an ‘H’ that is used for holding it tightly in place after wrapping.
Duct tape is handy for helping to secure compression dressings and to hold pressure on gauze. I use H&H Flat Fold Duct Tape ($2) with a total of 2” by 100” in a flat pack.
Trauma scissors are needed for cutting off clothing and for cutting bandages and tape. I’ve experimented with various models ranging from $3 to $70. Over time I’ve settled on the 6.5” Miltex Scissors, Model 5-998 ($20). These are German stainless steel, German engineering, and made in Germany. They hold their tolerances and their cutting edges better than any others I’ve carried.
Additionally I include one H&H Wound Seal Kit ($11). This is a 6”x8” sealing dressing with adhesive that can stick to the surrounding skin even through blood and debris. In the same pack there is a 4”x7.5” gauze pad, identical to the one included with the H Bandage above (…and yet more gauze).
I squeeze in four more items for good measure. None are as essential as the supplies listed above, but they are small and easy to accommodate:
- Five Antiseptic Towelettes with benzalkonium chloride (BZK)
- Four Safetec single-use Antibiotic Ointment
- Four general purpose Band-Aids
- Splinter Tweezers. I’m a fan of the various models from Tweezerman, Dumont, and Regine. It’s worth paying the premium of these three brands to get some finely-tuned tips. These days I’m taking along the Regine 3.5” splinter tweezers, hand made in Switzerland ($39). They are also useful when you need to pull out a tick. Be sure to safeguard tweezer tips from damage. I rigged a short section of plastic tubing as a protective sheath.
We’ll conclude with three non-obvious recommendations for acquiring first aid supplies and training:
- You can buy any type of first aid supplies pre-tax if you happen to have a Health Spending Account (HSA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).
- Periodically inspect your first aid kits for shelf life of individual items. Some of the supplies expire after 2 to 5 years and should be replaced proactively.
- It’s often possible to get first aid training at work for free. If you suggest training to your supervision there is a reasonable chance the company will foot the bill as part of their budget allocated for safety or for training. This can include voluntary training in first aid, CPR, and/or AED. It’s even more likely to be approved if you volunteer to arrange for the certified instructor to come on site. This potential perk applies even to office jobs that have minimal risks of severe injury. There is little downside to inquiring about training. And it’s a good peace of mind if your coworkers are freshly trained.
 Based on comparative data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics and compilation of various studies on defensive gun uses.
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