A useful (and sometimes wishful) list
There are various pieces of shooting kit that are essential to trips out in the field. We’ve picked some top picks and some that are on the wish list.
1. The jacket
This recently came out top in our list of best tweed shooting coats. It’s a great all-rounder and a useful colour. It’s waterproof and has quick drying insulation and will see you right out in the field or on the grouse moor. (Read our full list of the best tweed shooting coats here.)
2. The cartridge bag
All guns will recognise the ecstasy of fumbling that occurs in your pocket as birds sail overhead. This ingenious contraption from William Powell may look like something the bus conductor left behind, but, in fact, it’ll speed up your loading, and therefore your shooting, to an extent you won’t believe.
‘Good shooting equipment should not be purely conceived by designers,’ maintains Mark Osborne of William Powell. ‘It needs to be really practical—and that means you have to know how it’ll be used in the field.’
3. The hat
Don’t forget headgear. Whether you’re a wide brimmed, feather-in-the-band sort of gun or you put your trust in a classic deerstalker, headwear is a must for all shooting. A good old-fashioned flat cap such as this attractive tweed Musto Technical Tweed will keep you surprisingly warm, shield your face from wary game and protect your eyes from whippy twigs and thorny branches, as you clamber through hedge or woodland. It’ll also keep a surprising amount of the weather off, too. You’ll find more inspiration on our list of best hats for shooting.
4. The Wellington boots
These are the ones you’re going to see out time and time again in the field. And with good reason. The editor of Sporting Gun commented about them: “I was standing still on frozen ground for hours and my feet were still warm. Definitely some of the best wellies for shooting I have tried.” Excellent grip, a buckle fitting that allows adjustment and outer rubber allows the boot to flex easily. Features like a choice of calf sizes justify the boot’s relatively high price tag.
5. The socks
Shooting socks are your friend. A decent pair won’t bunch up in the bottom of your boot (is there anything more annoying?) and they’ll do almost as much as your hat to keep you warm and dry. Find our list of the best shooting socks here.
6. The shoot box
If you’ve got all the essential shooting kit, it might be time to spoil yourself with a shoot box from Blackwood and Locke. Custom-made for both the boot of your vehicle and your needs, these beautiful pieces of furniture come in a range of hardwood and leather luxury finishes.
‘No two boxes are ever the same,’ declares Philip Moorsom of the Cotswolds-based company. ‘We’ve made drawers for silver-plate Champagne flutes, tot cups, bottles of Bollinger and bottles of brandy. The top drawer often holds a large bespoke foam cutout to secure guns safely and the drawers are removable, so we can build picnic sets to replace gun drawers for use outside the season.’
7. The gunslip
Set to be something of an heirloom, this is made from the finest leather hides. Quite simply it’s a masterpiece which is why it’s on our list of best gun slips. Available in chestnut or dark Havana leather in different sizes, it has a classic opening fastened with a buckle flap. A padded fleece lining will protect the guns inside. You can use the gun slips individually if you’re just taking out one gun or put both together with the leather straps. It will age gracefully alongside you, each season adding new creases and layers of lustrous sheen.
8. The shotgun
There’s nothing quite like an English gun in your shooting kit as a celebration of craftsmanship moulded around your distinct measurements. The Holland & Holland Royal Deluxe, available as a side-by-side and an over-and-under, is no exception – it’s truly a work of art.
If you spend the £100,000 necessary to own one in either 12, 20 or 28 bore, you’ll spend as long gazing at the exquisite engraving of gamebirds as you will at the swirl and patina of the polished walnut. This is the one sporting purchase that your great-grandchildren will thank you for in seasons to come; as well as being a pleasure to shoot with, it will become a treasured family heirloom.