Water bottles, an E-Z Up, Tables, Folding Chairs, and maybe a grill and some hot dogs; these are probably the obvious items that come to mind when going to a day of shooting guns in the desert.
These are great items to bring along, but as you deal with the heat, the dust and the dirt, you will quickly realize that there are a LOT of things that could make your day a lot easier.
These tips and tricks will help you survive the small inconveniences of being in the hot California desert while shooting guns!
7. Bring Trash Bags
This is an obvious one, but a lot of people forget this one.
While a lot of California desert shooting spots are pretty much littered with trash, it’s a good idea to clean up after yourself.
There are some really nice spots without trash, but many spots are just a complete waste land. This is good in some cases, you might find some really cool things out in the desert. We have found a lot of cool shooting targets left out there by other people that turned out to be great fun!
You and your group of friends will begin to accumulate a lot of trash quickly! Whether it’s empty cardboard ammo boxes, stripper clips, napkins, paper plates, etc, you’ll want to do your part!
6. Bring lots of Cheap Soda (Not for Drinking)
It’s surprising to hear just how many people go out to the desert without any shooting targets, or bring some cardboard or paper targets without a proper stand. They will blow away so fast!
You can buy a 12 pack of some no name brand sodas from the grocery store for pretty cheap.
Clay pigeons are great for shotgun shooting, and good if you can hit with a pistol, but most of the people in your group will probably not be able to shoot it with an AR-15 or other common guns brought to the desert.
Soda cans make great static targets for their weight and size. You know instantly when you’ve hit them; it’s very satisfying and fun!
Pro Tip: If you have a pickup truck, try to keep the sodas covered. Driving in the California mountainous deserts or the intense heat causes a lot of the cans to bulge, and some may even explode in the back of your truck. Better to keep them inside or covered from the direct sunlight!
5. Bring a Tactical Belt or some Mag Pouches
The fastest way to get your mags mixed up with your friends or to get dirt in them is to lay them on the table or keep them in your back pocket where they can easily fall.
This isn’t really a MUST HAVE, but it’s definitely worth having for convenience. Assuming you aren’t shooting from the table, but likely standing out in the designated shooting line, you don’t want to have to drop all your mags to the dirty desert floor or fiddle with reloading and grabbing mags from your back pocket.
It’s not as smooth or easy as you think, especially when all your clothing is slightly moist with sweat and sticking to your skin.
A good Tactical Belt with some Mag pouches and a dump pouch (to toss your empty mags) is the ideal setup. Light weight, comfortable, and holds everything you need it to.
4. Bring Carabiners (Lots of Them!)
Shameless self promotion of our sponsor and partners, K Tech Tactical, check out their awesome locking carabiners!
The idea in the desert is to go hands free as much as possible. Even if you bring one or two folding tables, those tables are going to get filled up quickly with rifles, ammo, etc.
You are not going to have a lot of spots to put your personal belongings besides the car, maybe a folding chair, or the dirt. If you have water bottles, a flash light, anything that can be hooked to your belt or backpack, you should do it!
The extra weight that you carry on your body isn’t really going to be a huge issue. Out in the desert, it’s not like you’re going to be running around or doing intense hiking. It’s better than getting sand all over everything you brought!
3. Bring a Camel Back
Lots of water bottles or a cooler isn’t enough. Your water bottles will literally bake out there, and while it’s nothing deadly, wouldn’t you rather have a nice, refreshing ice cold sip of water vs. boiling water from a water bottle?
I always fill my camel back 3 Liter bladder to the brim with ice, and then top it off with as much water as I can fit in between the ice.
For a single day of shooting, this is more than enough for me, and the water stays ice cold pretty much the whole time. I will say that the first sip of water (water which is still in the straw tube) is usually pretty warm, but that transition from warm to ice cold water is amazing!
I’ll never go to the desert again without it!
2. Bring Gloves (Work or Shooting Gloves)
Most guns are black, black things get very hot in the desert sun. Even with your nice little E-Z up, it’s impossible to prevent the sunlight from hitting your gun all the time.
Your gun is going to get very hot and touching it is going to become a chore.
We learn from experience, trust us on this one, you won’t want to burn your hands when you pick up your gun from the table. This is both a pain but also extremely unsafe if you’re with noobs who will over react or hold the gun in weird ways to compensate for the heat.
Bring some good gloves!
1. Bring Wet Wipes
It’s going to happen, if not this first tip, the next. Eventually, someone from the group is going to need to take a dump and your choices are either to drive miles back to the nearest town (and inconvenience everyone) or just find a hole somewhere.
Wet wipes not only come in handy for this circumstance, but pretty much every other situation you could think of, from cleaning your hands after eating food, to wiping the dust off your face at the end of the day.
Resealable wet wipe packaging is unreliable. To keep your wet wipes from drying out, be sure to keep them in a plastic zipper bag!
Dry wipes are useless!
Enjoy shooting in the deserts of California? Hopefully these tips will make your trips a little easier and more fun for everyone!