Looking the part?

There is plenty of sports gear that suits clay shooting very well

There is plenty of sports gear that suits clay shooting very well - Credit: Don Brunt

The clothes you wear on a clay ground are more important than you think, says Don Brunt

Golf isn’t for me, I’m afraid. I believe it was Mark Twain who described it as a good walk spoiled, and for me he hit the nail on the head, so to speak. However, as much as I find the game itself to be an infernal creation of the devil and his little helpers, I find Golf Clubs (by which I mean the venues, not the bat things…) to be pleasant enough places to visit. Generally speaking they are neat and tidy with a certain air of things being done ‘just so’.

Of course, one thing that you can’t miss when visiting such an establishment is that there is a strict dress code. Consequently everyone knows exactly what is and isn’t acceptable as far as attire is concerned, and they are quite aware that if they turn up looking like they have been dragged through a hedge backwards they will be quietly and very politely asked to leave.

I am not for one moment suggesting that shooting grounds should turn into a sea of Pringle jumpers, but if we are ever to attract more of the general public into the sport then perhaps a new look might make shooting a more attractive proposition to Joe Average.

You wouldn’t turn up to a cycle race in business dress or to the gym in a shirt and tie, yet when it comes to clay shooting it seems on occasion that quite literally anything goes. Lycra cycling shorts? String vest tops? Sweat-marked T-shirts covered in this morning’s (and yesterday’s) breakfast…? Is that really the sight you want to be greeted with when you are out spending your hard-earned cash, or taking your family out for the day to try a new sport?

The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association has a dress code for National Championships and Selection shoots which specifies a number of requirements. Among these are no vest tops, no camo clothing, no offensive slogans, no cut-off jeans and no shooting vests being worn over naked torsos; the latter point applying equally to both sexes! None of those points appear to most people to be overly draconian, but they are flouted on a regular basis even at the major championships, and for registered events there is no requirement for competitors to follow the smart/casual doctrine.

At this point there are undoubtedly people jumping up and down ranting about how they will not be told what to wear. However, Peter Wilson didn’t show up in London wearing jeans, nor did he wear a T-shirt proclaiming his sexual preferences. If he had done he would have been sent home with a flea in his ear, simple as that. Referees, staff and the media have to conform to a standard of dress at all ISSF events and it all helps reinforce the fact that it is a sporting event. FITASC goes even further and requires that no guns equipped with slings can be used in competition because of the military overtones such paraphernalia imply. This brings us on to the subject of camo jackets and the like. Although woodpigeons have the eyesight of an eagle, I have to break it to some that their cousin – the clay pigeon – does not, and consequently scores are unlikely to improve if the latest Afghan spec assault vest is worn while shooting a round of Sporting.

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There are plenty of custom-made sporting clothes that suit clay shooting very well. Polo shirts in heat-reducing materials, lightweight tracksuit-type trousers and jackets, as well as the ubiquitous Skeet vest. Of course not everyone may want to look like a Peter Wilson – or a Tiger Woods for that matter – but there are very few people out there who don’t own a shirt or polo shirt that has a collar, or a pair of casual trousers or a washing machine. Sadly there are very few ground owners that decide to turn away the tiny minority who choose to dress inappropriately. It’s understandable, of course, as who wants to turn away a paying customer in this climate? However, all that succeeds in doing is making it clear to the rest of the shooters at the ground that you really can wear whatever you want. Mankini, anyone?

Now, this golf thingy… Maybe I could fit a trigger to the bat?

By Don Brunt