Whether your new to shooting or an old timer, Simon Everett unfolds all your essential apparel requirements for a comfortable day of shooting, whatever the time of year. Follow his guide and you’ll never find yourself left out in the cold on your day-long session!
1. Get hats for all seasons
There is no definitive answer to the hat decision: you need several for different occasions. For plinking and target shooting in the field, a baseball cap is fine. In cold weather, a woollen or thermal beanie is a good choice, but they offer no shading for the eyes. A peak or brim can make a big difference to your sight picture. For hunting I prefer a wide brimmed hat. In hot weather, wet your hat and shake off the excess: the evaporation will help keep your head cool, and you will shoot better as a result.
2. Cover your face
A scarf can be used to cover your face and make you less visible to quarry, but your breath will steam up your scope. A thin face veil is a far better proposition and works exactly the same. The fine mesh ones are also midge-proof, but they allow your breath to dissipate and don’t steam up your sight.
3. Use base layers
If you are cold, if not necessarily shivering, your muscles will be tense and your senses will be impaired, as will your reactions and thought processes; consequently your shooting will suffer. Thick woollens reduce your mobility and ability to take up a position, but modern base layers provide excellent insulation and thermal qualities without restricting your movement. You will remain more comfortable and better able to give a good account of yourself. You are better off with a couple of thinner layers, rather than one thick one.
4. Stay dry
Traditional waterproofs are a cheap and effective way to keep your normal clothes clean and dry, provided you aren’t hunting. Nylon-type waterproofs might be effective, but they are very noisy, and you will tend to sweat inside them if you are active. They’re best left for the outdoor target shooters; hunters need a much quieter solution.
5. Proof cotton
I like using military-surplus DPM gear for hunting. It is cheap and rugged, but it is in no way waterproof. A shower will get it wet and not come through, but the cotton does soak up the water and become heavier than it already is. That can be improved though. Ballistol does a fabulous, little-known product called Pluvonin that will help to ‘proof’ open-weave fabrics like cotton against the rain. It won’t make it waterproof, but the rain will bead up and run off much better.
6. Find the right boots
Footwear depends on the terrain you are going to be traversing. Long wet grass or woodland? Wellies are the order of the day. Dry downland with short cropped pasture means walking boots will be fine. I like my Muck boots: they have good soles that grip on wet rocks and are supple enough to allow quiet footfall.
7. Get a protective jacket
What a minefield it is, negotiating the choice of jackets for shooting. Undoubtedly the most versatile is a Gortex membrane. They are extremely waterproof, but even these need treatment every so often. Fear not, the Nik Wax cleaning and proofing kit is easy to use and very effective.
8. Get a rucksack
If you get into the habit of taking a small rucksack, you will never leave anything you need behind again. I use a BCB 25-litre daysack: it will hold my pellets, my calls, a knife, a pruning saw, secateurs, a flask and small eats without even using the inside compartment. I can put a camo net and couple of decoys in if I need them. A polythene bag inside prevents any blood staining the rucksack should I be clever enough to shoot something. It is better than cramming your pockets full of bits.
9. Have plenty of gloves
There are gloves for all seasons and all reasons. Even in summer, I use thin gloves just to hide the flash of skin that is a great giveaway; they also help to protect from mosquito bites. In the winter, warmer, soft-shell gloves keep hands warm and the trigger finger supple, but are soft enough to feel to shoot accurately. For more specialist disciplines, such as target shooting, gloves are used to give better support. Be diligent with your digits: they are the link to your trigger.
10. Avoid biological washing powder
Hunters should all be aware of this: modern biological washing powders employ brighteners to make colours stand out and make whites whiter. The reason the colours are more vivid is due to the inclusion of UV brighteners. Hunters need to be aware that in nature ultraviolet signatures are used a great deal, and nature ‘sees’ in UV; so using these UV brighteners will make your nice camo jacket glow like a neon beacon!