Perfect shooting gloves: why are they so difficult to find?
Giles Catchpole is on a hunt
The dog has eaten my shooting gloves. Not chewed or gnawed, but eaten. Consumed. Except the buckles, which he brought to me with a wholly unjustified pride, rolling them about his teeth. “Look,” he seemed to say, “I’ve saved these for you.” (Read our advice on how to make a dog vomit in an emergency.)
You might imagine that we went hotfoot to the vets for emetics or laxatives, perhaps even surgery. We didn’t. I did follow him about with a stick and a rubber glove for a few days, just in case they made a difficult reappearance, but nothing eventuated so after a while I gave up. They were deerskin, you see, and unlined, so the fact of the matter is that he probably digested them. My favourite shooting gloves. Well, my current favourite shooting gloves; I have had many pairs over the years and there have been a goodly number of iterations, and several of those have been favourites. (Read our list of the best hunting gloves.)
Most of my early shooting was at pigeons over decoys during the summer holidays, so the question was less about cold hands and more about camouflage. I was advised that a broad-brimmed hat and some form of gloves would make me harder to spot by approaching birds, and so I accumulated a large felt titfer and some gloves.
But the hat fell over my eyes at crucial moments and the gloves played merry hell with the double triggers of my .410, so any advantage accrued was offset by periodic blindness and an inability to actually let off the gun. Not that the pigeons noticed. Or cared.
When I began to shoot driven game, I was advised that gentlemen didn’t wear gloves and that was that. I suspect that this was a hangover, perhaps, from the days of hammerguns when a glove might have been seen as a potential hazard in the cocking and uncocking. Or, maybe, chaps who wore gloves to shoot were akin to those who wore gloves in sports cars. A bit racy, verging on the caddish even. Definitely not the type you wanted sitting next to your wife at lunch. Anyway, officers don’t feel the cold, so there.
It only took one flush at a summer charity shoot, however, to underline the importance of a decent glove. Shot with a side-by-side, obviously. I looked everywhere. I even spent the big bucks and got the finest versions from smart gunshops. They all had faults. Buttons that scratched the stock. Velcro that wore out or caught on the sleeve of my sweater. Seams that were in the wrong place.
Then I found a stall at a local game fair that sold the perfect glove: surgically thin leather with a padded back for insulation and a woollen cuff for warmth. They were seconds that had failed quality control checks at a well-known purveyor of gorgeous gloves; they were released every other year and knocked out on the fair circuit. They only lasted a season or so because of the fineness of the leather, but whenever I saw them I would buy as many as I could. They served me well until the makers got better at making them — probably with a new computery-type machine — and supplies dried up.
That was when I found myself in an Army surplus shop in pursuit of cold-weather base-layers — military underthings are second to none and priced to sell — and found myself holding a pair of “Gloves Infantry/1st Issue/Desert for the use of”. This was after Kuwait and Iraq and before the Afghanistan debacle. Fine, soft leather, good wrist coverage and an adjustable plastic buckle. And at £10 a pop, what’s not to like?
So I bought enough — probably — to see me out. As long as the dog doesn’t eat them all.