There are three key considerations when dressing for a day’s game shooting: appropriate look for the day (dress code), safety, and of course the weather. In this blog, we’ll look at each of these in turn.
Dress Code for Game Shooting
Most shoots don't have a formal dress code, but game shooting is steeped in tradition. If you don’t want to feel like an imposter, it’s important to look the part. Modern-day shooting has evolved over the years, but you’ll still need to follow a few key principles so you can look the part on most grouse, pheasant, duck and partridge shooting days.
Tweed Shooting Jackets Or Green Jackets?
For a more traditional look, a three-piece tweed suit, consisting of a jacket, waistcoat and breeks would have always been worn. On a really smart day, this is still absolutely an appropriate look. However, for most days in the shooting field, this is no longer necessary (with a full tweed suit often now costing upwards of £1000, it’s a relief for most people).
Nowadays, it's more likely you’ll see people wearing perhaps one or two items of tweed, combined with country green garments. One of the reasons for this move away from tweed is the evolution of technical fabrics used to construct shooting jackets. The introduction of these new fabrics has resulted in jackets that are lighter, more waterproof, breathable, and durable. Whilst tweed may win on tradition, technical fabrics win on performance and are totally acceptable even on very smart shooting days.
Breeks (essentially a trouser cut off just below the knee), combined with full-length shooting socks (sometimes referred to as stockings), and garters are still very much the norm on a driven game shoot. If you’re new to shooting, you may feel a bit strange the first time you put them on, but once you arrive you’ll fit right in.
Wear a Shirt and Tie
A checked shirt in country colours and a country-themed tie are typical on most driven shoot days. You’ll find an endless array of ties available featuring pheasant, duck, partridge and other traditional British game birds.
Wellington boots are still standard attire in the shooting field, and for good reason. It's likely that it will be wet underfoot, you’ll need a good grip on rough terrain, and you never know when you’ll be drawn to stand in a spot that requires wading through a stream.Wellies is an area where you see a bit of snobbery as to what brand to wear.
Undoubtedly, you can’t go wrong with either Le Chameau or Aigle, which are both quality boots trusted by many. Occasionally you will see people in leather walking boots (or higher stalking boots), with gaiters. These are acceptable, but still more unusual.
Safety - Hearing and Eye Protection For Game Shooting
Clearly, this is vitally important to get right.Hearing protection can be as simple as foam plugs that are squeezed into the ear, to the hugely popular electronic ear defenders, that cancel out the bang of the gun and still allow you to chat with your fellow shooters. The main thing is, just don’t go without!
Eye protection is often overlooked by shooters, but is clearly important. Clear plastic safety glasses don’t cost the earth and could save a nasty injury from falling lead shot or other debris. A peaked cap is also a good idea, and can also help your shooting when the sun is low in the sky during the winter months.
If you shoot often, wearing shooting gloves is a good idea to protect your hands from the hot barrels. It’s important that your gloves provide a secure grip even when wet, and aren’t too thick. A fumbling trigger finger because of inappropriate gloves has obvious safety implications!
How To Dress For The Weather On A Shooting Day
The changeable nature of the British weather always presents a challenge for shooters. Most shoots will continue whatever the weather conditions are, so you need to be prepared. The best approach for all eventualities is layering up.
If it looks like it is a really cold day, start with a thermal base layer under your shirt. You will then want a country check shirt (complete with collar and country-themed tie). Next, go for a lambswool jumper (v-neck or zip neck to show off your tie).
An optional next layer is a shooting waistcoat. If you prefer to shoot without your coat on, a shooting waistcoat has pockets to keep your cartridges, and often also provides a shoulder patch for gun mounting.
Next comes your all-important shooting coat. It’s vital that this is waterproof and breathable, so you stay comfortable whatever the day throws at you. Finally, if it looks like being really wet, you’ll want a pair of waterproof over trousers.
With the combination of layers listed above you can be down to just shirt and tie if you get lucky with the weather, or wrapped up in all five layers, including an insulated shooting jacket, if you get a horrid day.
And Finally – Shooting Jacket And Welly Boots
As a final point, your shooting jacket and wellies are probably the two most important pieces of clothing to get right. Have these correct and you have a good chance of staying warm and dry and looking the part.