Your first day out in the shooting field is guaranteed to be a great experience and hopefully great fun, but there are 2 areas that tend to be a bit daunting, etiquette and what to wear. Loads of websites help you out with the etiquette, so we thought we’d give you some hints and tips on the basics you’ll need in terms of clothing and equipment.
It’s an expensive sport, and as it’s your first day you’re not going to want to go mad buying top end kit, so we’re put together a selection of quality basics, that will look the part on any shoot, but not cost you the earth.
Let’s start with kit, and the obvious starting point is a gun. On your first day in the field you’ll almost certainly be borrowing a gun, as you’re unlikely to have gone through the process of applying for a licence and to the expense of buying a gun without trying the sport first to see if it’s for you. That said if you are looking to buy, the new Berretta Silver Pigeon 1, 12 bore over and under is a good place to start, and there are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, 12 bore is by far the most common gauge gun for game, and there’s no point getting complicated on your first purchase so stick with the tried and tested. Secondly, over and unders are easy to shoot with, I haven’t enough words to explain why, they just are! Over and unders are also now completely acceptable on a driven game shoot, a few years ago they were the preserve of clay shooters, and looked down on by game shooters, but those days are long gone. Finally, the vast majority of new shotguns sold in the UK are made by Beretta, and with good reason, they are reliable and have excellent after sales support, and at around £1300 the Silver Pigeon 1 is exception value.
Once you’ve sorted the gun, make sure you have a cartridge bag, the Bisley range from John Rothery has a quality look to it but at a sensible price. A capacity of 100 cartridges should be plenty for most shoots, and a bag any bigger tends to be too heavy when full. You’ll also want a gun slip, hopefully you’ll borrow this along with the gun, but if not Bisley again make a sensibly priced slip. Ear protection is vital, but the good news is it is really cheap. After many years shooting my favourite form of ear protection is still a pair of foam plugs that cost 39p!
Now let’s look at clothing, and the key thing is a good coat, there is nothing worse than being cold and wet out in the shooting field, and the Westmoor Jacket from Musto should do the job brilliantly. It is lightweight, waterproof, smart enough for any shoot, but wouldn’t look out of place walking the dog or going to the pub, and at £175.00 it’s great value. Match this up with a country coloured cotton check shirt and a tie if appropriate and you’re starting to look the part. On colder days add in a plain green lambswool V neck sweater (Barbour do a great range), or a green fleece waistcoat (try Seeland for a good value option).
A good pair of moleskin trousers in a green or lovat will be ideal for the lower half, Philip Morris & Son do a great value own brand range. You’ll find the experienced shooters are generally wearing breeks, but investing in breeks for your first day out isn’t a necessity, and once you’re in your wellingtons nobody can tell anyway. Wellington boots are probably the second most important item of clothing after your coat. At most shoots you’ll find that over 50% of ‘guns’ are wearing Neoprene lined Wellingtons made by Le Chameau, who are a clear market leader. If you feel the cold, getting a pair of boots with a Neoprene lining is a must, however both Hunter and Musto do Neoprene lined boots that look the part, but are about a third cheaper, personally I’m a big fan of the Musto Pelton wellington.
The final few things to think about are some gloves, and a hat. Get a pair of fairly thin gloves so you can feel the trigger and reload easily, special shooting gloves with a cut away finger are best. A peaked hat is import almost whatever the weather as sun in your eyes can be as bad as rain when you’re trying to take aim. You’ll see all variety of headwear, so as long as you keep the colour muted, you should be ok. I’m a fan of the Barbour waxed baseball cap. Once you’ve got all that you should be set to go. Enjoy!