Clay pigeon shooting is one of the most gentlemanly sports available to the modern man. In fact, a fine shotgun has become such a symbol of refinement and luxury that it remains to this day a mark of affluence, education and social position. And as with all things luxury, fashion is never far from the forefront, so here's what to wear in the field.
The Outer Outfit
Like many others, a shooting outfit takes its nature from the nature of the affair. A formal field day calls for tweed, a more casual day for safari style, and a day of competition for more sporting livery. Regardless of which is called for, a little attention to detail will have you looking at home on the field.
Formal shooting outfits are rather British: a tweed jacket, a waistcoat and breeks (the Scottish word for baggy trousers). However, if the weather is warm a shooting vest can replace your jacket, or if overly cold a thick overcoat is commonly worn. For extra style points, add some layered knitwear to your outfit - especially jumpers with padded elbows and shoulders to reduce a little shotgun recoil.
Shooting breeks are commonly looser fitting than normal trousers. Remember, you'll need to pivot, turn and lean into your shotgun, so any tight-fitting clothing will affect your ability to perform. A hard-wearing cotton such as moleskin is best, but at a stretch, a tan or brown denim will suffice.
Colours should be natural: greens and browns hued towards grass, bark and scrub, as well as tans. If the day is less formal and the occasion more competitive, bright blues, greens and whites are common for a shooting uniform.
The Shirt and Tie
A tattersall shirt, featuring a check or plaid pattern, is a fine choice for a shooting shirt, as is the more rugged brushed cotton. Again, durability and stretch are required, and you should be able to extend your arms in front of yourself without difficulty or restriction. At the very worst, a polo shirt can suffice.
A tie should be worn on a formal shoot, featuring lively and affair-appropriate designs like game birds, retrieving dogs or at worse, a simple plain tweed pattern.
Comfortable yet stylishly capable footwear is imperative when shooting. Boots provide good ankle support especially over uneven ground. Good sole grip is imperative for stability when moving and pivoting, and waterproof options are a wise choice for the winter months.
Hats and Caps
A tweed or cordurouy flat cap is the best choice of headdress for a well-dressed shooter. However, if you tend towards sporting attire, a baseball cap is also acceptable, but much less stylish.
The Shooting Vest
A shooting vest is a sleeveless jacket with patch-like pockets designed to hold cartridges and spent shells. A leather patch is common on the shooting shoulder to absorb a little of the gun's recoil and allow the gun to slip more easily into the shoulder. But be warned: if you sport a vest, you'd better know your trap from your skeet.
So next time someone suggests an afternoon of trap and skeet, embrace it for the leisurely pursuit that it is. Just don't forget your sartorial finery.