Cutting your cloth

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You only have to scan through a few copies of Airgun Shooter to see that I have a range of shooting clothing.

I rotate it all according to season, weather conditions or the quarry I’m hunting. Just like most readers, I look for value and practicality, so am rarely interested in overpriced, highbrow apparel.

I don’t do driven shooting, nor client guiding, so there are no moleskins or tweeds in my wardrobe. When Mr B turns out to shoot, it’s totally WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get!

Clothing is a consumable item, expendable. It gets ripped, covered in blood, washed into oblivion. We outgrow it or we diet out of it. If you’re a full-on hunter (not a ‘camo poser’), your clothing will be in a constant state of flux, so in my opinion it needs to be very affordable.

Although I have my little luxuries, I generally have a ‘tight’ approach to shooting – especially with regards to footwear. I buy waterproof, leather boots with superb grip from a local retailer for £50, and they last me about two years with almost daily use. But I simply won’t lay out upwards of £200 for a pair of treads!

202_WTC (03)2Trousers? All I need is a couple of pairs of baggy cargo pants, with loads of pockets.

I usually have to source these from army surplus stores as our shooting outfitters seem to design some totally impractical drain-pipe type designs. Sorry, but I take probably 80 per cent of my shots from a quickly-adopted kneeling stance – and I want to concentrate on my target, not avoiding castration.

I need, erm… ‘space’ to move within my garments – and that extends to upper body wear, too. I don’t need many pockets above waist level, I need them in my cargo pants.

I cross lots of barriers, climb stiles and pass between barbed wire fencing. So I bend forward a lot from the waist.

Phones, knives, vermin calls and the like are too easily lost from a shirt or jacket pocket. I’d rather keep them below waist level, in a secure pocket, preferably zipped.

Over late summer and autumn 2013, I took to wearing a Deerhunter Innovation shirt over a T-shirt.

Perfect stealth material and comfortable to wear, it sadly isn’t showerproof – so in my gamebag had to reside an olive green Paramo Fuera shower top. This specialist walker’s item cost the same as my boots, so it’s not something I want to risk while clambering through a barbed wire fence!

203_WTC (05)3For my summer base layers and for winter wear, I simply turn to my Jack Pyke items: summer camo mesh vest and T-shirts, both short and long sleeved; winter micro-fleeces and coats.

They’re all perfect – as are my JP shooting mitts, thermal gloves and snoods. Snug and silent, too.

I have a huge collection of baseball caps, mainly camo or green. I consider it to be one of the most used and versatile pieces of kit a shooter can employ.

It keeps your head both cool and warm, while its peak keeps rain off your face and shadows your eyes.

The latter not only makes using a scope easier (by stopping glare) but also hides your face and eyes from quarry.

204_WTC (06)4Jack Pyke make two versions of the same pattern – a stealth cap from a warm, micro-fleece material (useful in autumn and winter) and a cotton range, which is cooler for spring and summer.

So, what about those more expensive ‘luxury’ items I mentioned earlier? Well, I have a Seeland Olwen zipped sweater, which is windproof and is probably my only concession to what I would term ‘social’ shooting clothing.

More than just functional and comfortable, it’s the perfect ‘meet and greet’ top. When meeting a new landowner about permission, slipping into the pub for a pint on the way home from hunting or calling into the local Tesco to buy a paper.

It’s toasty enough for a winter morning walkabout hunt – but I wouldn’t want to catch it on a blackthorn bush or barbed wire fence!

Then there’s my Tilley camo hat – an indestructible Canadian-designed bush hat which is great for keeping rain off my face or neck.

It also gives perfect facial cover while roost shooting, stopping the glint from my specs from startling the woodpigeons. I actually ran a short Facebook poll on whether I should change to the Tilley… but the baseball cap won hands-down.

A couple of people went so far as to say it was my ‘trademark’! (Perhaps that’s why I own so many?)

Ian Barnett

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Posted in Features, Gear

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