What should you be taking to your first game shoot?
This is aimed at those starting out in game shooting and should be a guide of essentials along with some things that you might not have considered.
There is a huge variety of shooting in the UK. From large driven days to small rough shooting with friends and everything in-between. Hopefully this guide helps to advise those who haven’t been before!
- You should always have access to wet weather gear. Unless you’re pigeon shooting in the height of summer I wouldn’t trust the weather in the British isles! With the UK being the way it is, it’s not unheard of to see all the seasons in a day. Whether you pick the trusty wax Barbour Jacket or a Gortex jacket, staying dry is essential and can really make or break a day out.
- Depending on the size of the shoot a meal isn’t always included. I’ve had some fantastic lunches eaten of the bonnet of a car which I’ve enjoyed equally as much those in shoot lodges. If you’re unsure, I would check with the shoot captain or whoever is organising but would also recommend taking some food and refreshments just incase. It always surprises me about how thirsty I get whilst out shooting so a bottle or two of water in the car won’t go amiss.
- Ear defenders are absolutely essentials bits of kit, whether they’re foam in ear ones or full price electronic earphones anything is better than shooting with nothing protecting you. If you forget you should always ask someone if they have anything spare. The damage done is often irreparable and talking to some of the old boys in the shooting game you can tell what years of unprotected shooting has done to their hearing. I would always recommend buying the over ear electronic headphones. I’ve had the same pair of peltor ones for 8 years and have only changed the battery’s a handful of times. That’s after shooting clays at university twice a week for 3 years and all the days in the season. If you find that the over ear ones are too bulky then there are some custom moulded ones that you can get that sit well within the shape of your ear.
- Footwear is key. Wellington boots are the norm and a good pair will last you a long time, I’ve had the same pair of le chameau boots for just over 7 years and wear them maybe 100 days a year and they’ve been brilliant. Incredibly warm and comfortable and easy to wear all day without discomfort. As with anything it pays to invest in quality and there are some boots that will last longer than others. If wellies aren’t your thing then Boots are a great alternative. Being a little less rigid and coming up a little lower on the leg, they are great to cover longer distances in. Boots are also much more padded so i’d recommend a pair for rough shooting or beat one stand one days.
- Smart Clothes: This applies particularly for driven shooting. Smart clothing is a sign of respect to the quarry that you’re shooting. Common sense should dictate the bottom half of your wardrobe. While many people will wear breeks in either +2 or +4 format this is generally for driven shooting. If your rough shooting no one is going to mind you wearing waterproof trousers. Common sense will tell you that walking through long grass in tweed won’t be comfy. You’re much better of committing to a good pair of trousers and staying dry. If you’re looking at tweed but wondering what pattern you should get just get your favourite!
- Cartridges: Cartridges are a personal choice. People get fixated on the numbers but at the end of the day it comes down to preference and quarry. Early in the season you can use 30 gram 6 shot cartridges to great affect. As the season progresses you can migrate to a slightly larger 32 gram 5 if you’re shooting a 12 bore. Unless you’re shooting speciality high birds then this should be more than enough to take down good game birds. Guns shooting older side by sides probably have a smaller chamber than whats in modern Over and Unders. This may restrict your cartridge choice but plenty of manufacturers are catering for the Side by side market. Choosing a quarry appropriate cartridge is key. Too big a shot will ruin the chance of harvesting the bird and too small may just wound the bird. When shooting 20 bore adjust the volume of the shot but not the shot size.