Shooting kit should be comfortable, practical, stylish and appropriate.
Here’s our guide to what to wear out shooting, so that you’re dressed correctly and feel confident you’re dressed appropriately.
What you’ll wear shooting depends on the type of day you’re going to have. If you’re going driven shooting, then you’ll probably want to wear a tie and dress a bit more formally. A walked-up shooting day is different again. If you’re out on the clays on a shoot day then you won’t need to wear tweeds (read our advice on what to wear clayshooting here.)
Whatever sort of day you’re going to have it’s important to get your shooting footwear right. Here is our list of the best shooting boots and the best wellies for shooting. You may also want to wear a shooting hat too.
The origins of shooting clothing.
Shooting clothing was originally designed to be practical, keep the wearer safe and at the right temperature. Tweeds may have a bit of a reputation as the height of formality but tweed was the original performance fabric long before the likes of GORE-TEX came along. It’s still popular with shooters today. However, if you’re shooting early in the season you might just want to wear a lightweight shooting jacket or a fleece gilet for shooting.
Wear the right shooting clothes and you’ll make the best of your day out. Wear the wrong clothes and you’ll feel uncomfortable for a variety of reasons.
So here’s how to dress for the field properly.
Top tips for what to wear shooting
- Some days are formal. Others less so. To make sure you turn up in the right kit check the dress code with your host. Ask about footwear and headwear too (a lot will depend on the weather). Nobody will think less of you for asking – in fact you’ll be respected for your good manners. On some days a pair of wellies suitable for shooting may be perfect. On others (for instance if you’re walked-up or rough shooting) you’ll want to wear sturdy and supportive boots for shooting.
- A lot depends on the ground you’ll encounter (so ask about footwear when you make that initial call to your shoot host).
- Guns usually wear brown or green clothing which blends in with the surroundings. This may or may not be tweeds (in fact, some Guns now wear fabrics printed to look like tweed.)
- If you want to preserve your hearing you must wear ear defenders.
- Tweed caps are popular and useful for keeping the sun out of your eyes and the rain off your face.
- In early autumn you can have some warm shooting days – particularly if you’re walking up shooting when you’ll be doing a fair bit of exercise. Choose layers that you can discard – shooting in a shirt and tie and taking off your jacket is quite acceptable on a warm day. Or maybe just wear a shooting vest over a shirt and tie.
Protect your ears
Not wearing ear protection is quite simply stupid because you’re risking your hearing. Moulded earplugs, ear defenders or disposable ear plugs are all options. If it’s cold, think about a hat with flaps to keep your ears warm.
On a formal shoot you will need to wear a shirt. Tattersall check shirts are perennially popular and look good both with and without a tie. On the grouse moor opt for darker colours to avoid being seen by the birds.
In general a tie is expected on a formal shoot. (See our list of the best shooting ties.)
If you’re on a formal shoot, many Guns will be wearing a three piece tweed suit with matching breeks or trousers, waistcoat and jacket.
You’ll be game shooting mostly during the winter so make sure your coat is warm and waterproof. When buying a shooting jacket, make sure you have enough movement to swing your gun. You’ll also want a jacket with deep pockets for cartridges.
A cartridge bag is essential. Run out of cartridges and it’s game over. You might also like to have a cartridge belt.
Legally you’ll have to carry your gun in a gun slip. If you’re on a budget then a canvas gun slip will do the job but opt for leather or at least a gunslip with a leather trim if you’re on a formal driven day. (Take a look at our guide to the best gun slips.)
On a formal shoot, you should wear tweed breeks or trousers. At less formal shoots, you can wear moleskin trousers.
If you’re walking over moorland then these are a must. Read our guide to gaiters here.
Socks/stockings with garters
Wear long shooting socks with stockings, tied with garters to stop them falling. Here’s how to wear your shooting socks correctly.
The best bet is shooting boots with good ankle support, as this will suit you on uneven ground as well as flat earth.
For clayshooting, there is no official etiquette on what to wear. However you’ll almost certainly enjoy your day on the clay ground moor if your clothes are smart and functional. Go for items that allow movement and take account of the weather conditions.
On the clay ground this is even more important as more shots are fired than in game shooting. Make sure your hearing protection has a comfortable fit that doesn’t impede gun mount, or bad habits will set in. Options include disposable ear plugs, high end digital headphones and moulded earplugs.
All clay shooters need to wear eye protection and a shooting school can provide this for you. There are a variety of tints available which help you pick to the clays – experiment to see which works best for you. If you wear glasses then consider prescription eye protection.
Shirt or T-shirt
This depends on the weather. Most clay shooting happens in the summer season, but unlike game shooting, there’s often a lot less physical exercise. You also have the luxury of not needing to carry your clothing with you, as you would in the shooting field, so wearing several light breathable layers that can be discarded when needed is a good idea.
If you are attending a clay shoot you will be expected to bring your own gun. If you are attending a clay shooting lesson, the school will be able to provide you with a gun and ensure the gun fit is right for you. If attending a clay shoot, always return your gun to its slip between stands while waiting to shoot.
This is a judgement call based on the weather. Wellies will be fine in the wet. In dry weather, trainers or walking boots or some other comfortable footwear will suffice.
Waterproof sports holdall
This is not essential when having a clay lesson but during a clay shoot you will need one for carrying cartridges, chokes and a cloth to keep your hands clean and a snack to keep your concentration levels up. This is also handy for storing extra kit if you have to remove a layer in the heat.
Ideally overcoats should be removed before shooting if it’s comfortable to do so as this will affect gun fit. If you intend to shoot with it on during the rain, ensure when you buy it there is no restriction of movement. Take a look at our guide to the best waterproof shooting jackets which we have tried and tested.