Choosing what to wear for a day’s shooting can be a dilemma for the modern sportsman and sportswoman. With such an extensive array of garments, styles, materials and proposed benefits on offer, you can quickly lose sight of what your key shooting needs are and it becomes difficult to know where to start. To help, we’ve created this comprehensive shooting clothing guide, where the needs of the hunter are broken down into the most important areas: outerwear, trousers and breeks, footwear and important accessories suitable for the shooting conditions.
The usual starting point from which to build a smart and stylish look should be your shooting jacket. For a day’s shooting as part of a larger group, tweed is traditionally the chosen fabric. A high-quality tweed jacket is a worthwhile investment, as they are extremely hard wearing and, for a particularly refined look, can be matched with a tweed waistcoat and breeks. British tweed has gained global popularity and the classic three-piece tweed suit always looks great on a shoot. On occasions when you are out shooting with your partner, you may also wish to coordinate tweed patterns, as there are many men’s and ladies’ tweed shooting outfits to choose from.
The downside to tweed is that it can get very heavy when wet. As a result, many choose technical materials over tweed. These are invariably manmade materials but they have the advantage of being lighter in weight generally and most certainly when wet. This also means they tend to be very versatile and can be worn comfortably all year round. Fortunately, many tweed shooting suits are now treated to repel water to offer the best of both worlds.
Thus the decision is down to whether you favour tweed over technical in terms of look and then weigh that against the benefits of the versatility technical might give you over tweed.
A country shirt can be tailored for comfort and for the occasion. For a more relaxed day, sleeves can be rolled up and collars can be left open, but most days out call for a smart shooting tie. This gives you another opportunity to express yourself and be creative by choosing a tie with a different pattern or motif. A lambswool jersey or pullover can also be added for those particularly chilly winter days.
Trousers & Breeks
The two most important characteristics for trousers or breeks are that they are durable and weatherproof, which makes the choice of material a key decision. Your trousers or breeks will most likely come into contact with glorious sunshine, driving rain and some rather thorny bushes, possibly all in the same day. As previously mentioned, tweed is the classic choice and provides ample protection from the elements. For earlier in the season a set of breeks are the recommended for comfort during warmer weather. As with the choice of jackets, technical materials are coming to the fore as these give warmth, waterproofness and breathability all in the same garment.
There are few ranges of technical breeks however although Harkila have brought out their Woodcock range for the coming season. Instead most technical fabrics come in trouser format which might be a less traditional look. Thus the decision is over look over functionality. Tweed breeks are the traditional look, although not all are waterproof and the socks below them most certainly aren’t!
Comfort and durability are what we all expect from our choice of shooting footwear. While a wellington boot may be enough in more favourable walking conditions, it is advisable to invest in high-quality footwear particularly if you are going to be in cold conditions or having to walk any distance, such as insulated wellingtons or shooting boots, to ensure grip and warm, dry feet. For more information on choosing the perfect pair of wellingtons, please visit our dedicated footwear guide.
Safety is always paramount on any shooting day. As a minimum you must have a set of shooting ear defenders to avoid any damage from frequent, loud gunfire. If you’re bringing along guests who are not shooting, such as children, be sure to bring ear defenders for them. The possibility of ear damage is significant to you and those near you and, in particular to younger ears.
To keep yourself warm on cold winter days out in the field, gloves and hats are advisable. Specialist shooting gloves are to be recommended as these will keep your hands warm whilst still giving you the dexterity you need whilst handling a gun.