It is one of the most important aspects in the world of shooting. Whether it’s for the sake of keeping you warm and dry or looking the part and making sure etiquette is adhered to, shooting clothing has to be on point.
Nothing ruins a day of shooting quite like being cold, so make sure your clothes are sufficiently warm. You’ll find layering is best as nobody wants to have big puffy coats and thick scarves around their necks whilst trying to mount the gun smoothly. A good set of lined gloves are a must as nobody wants cold brittle fingers on the trigger, extremities are to be taken care of too.
Why not consider thermals as part of your layering system? Most guns swear by a good set of skins under their tweeds as you may well be standing silently still on a peg for up to an hour.
It is also wise to make sure you wear a hat suitable for the conditions. Many choose to wear a warm, lined, tweed flat cap which will hold the heat in sufficiently enough. Don’t be afraid to wear a smart woolly hat should the weather be more on the extreme side.
Never place aesthetics before comfort because you must remember that you need freedom of movement to move, mount and swing your gun if you’re to move quickly and effectively.
You must consider that the start of the day in the shade of the hill and the conditions can seem calm, however at the top of the hill it may be blowing a gale and be pretty chilly. A windproof outer layer is a must for staying warm all day so consider buying that warm and cosy coat with the Velcro cuffs to keep the drafts out. You won’t regret it when stationary on top of that hill with northwesterly winds.
There are lots of imponderables, but there are also many things you can investigate beforehand. Take a look at the weather forecast so that you’re wearing the right clothes; make sure you have enough cartridges (if necessary ring the estate and try to get a sense of how many cartridges you will need) look at the estate’s website – if it has one – and see what sort of terrain you’ll face and choose your footwear accordingly – either wellies or boots. Always pack a spare coat or waterproofs. We have all been caught out in the fierce weather where you have soaked through to your undies.
Notwithstanding the need to be comfortable, there are occasions when you will need to be smarter than others, so try and get a sense of what sort of shoot you’re on. If it’s a family walked-up day, it’s likely to be a casual affair and in any case, you don’t want to ruin your smartest kit wading through heather and gorse, that’s what gaiters or over-trousers are for.
If it is a driven day, you should err on the side of being smart. Above all, use your common sense – if it’s double guns and driven grouse on the Glorious 12th then dress to impress. Above all, the best rule of thumb is that you can never go wrong with a tie and a smart set of tweeds.
Wear breathable material
You can get pretty hot and sweaty on a shoot, even if the weather isn’t too toasty. If it’s a walked-up shoot your temperature will begin to rise. And contrary to preconceptions, sometimes you’ll have a good walk to get to your peg – one of our hills has a one-in-three gradient and the only way to get to the peg is to walk! Again, layers are advisable where you can peel back to a waistcoat or cotton jumper.
When it comes to ruining a day’s shooting, freezing cold comes first and then, just before having horrible blisters, comes being wet right through. If it’s pouring all day and you don’t have the right kit you are without a doubt going to get wet and miserable. So read the reviews and the bumf on all of your kit and wear what you think will keep you driest if the forecast is for stair rods from dawn to dusk.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Friends and professionals are the best people to ask for advice. If your friends are competent and know the ground you’re likely to be shooting, then pick their brains. Gamekeepers will always try to help as well – whether it’s tips on the weight of shot or on what footwear, any professional worth his/her salt will try to help because none of them wants a gun who is unable to enjoy the day and is unlikely to ever return. It’s all about understanding at the end of the day and if you’re happy and informed it makes for a better and safer day for everyone.
Quality over quantity
Buy cheap pay twice as they always say. When it comes to gear, try to invest in the best you can afford as you will find you will only need a few staple items but its genuinely good quality gear. Companies have a vested interest in producing ever more technical ranges of gear, but you’re generally better advised to invest £400 in one jacket that you can wear for everything than five jackets for £80.
Make sure your attire is specific
Sometimes there are bits and pieces you absolutely need for specific tasks. If you are wild-fowling, for instance, camouflage can be very important as you can be terribly visible to geese. If you’re going walked-up through a bog, then wellies (or gaiters to go with boots) are a must as is waterproof/lined tweed for walking through overgrowth should you have to walk one stand one.