Stephen’s done glasses, Mike’s done footwear so what’s left? All the stuff in the middle that’s what. So
what to wear and why?
Starting at the top we have a baseball style peaked cap, usually with a sponsors logo if you’re lucky
enough to find someone to give you stuff for free or a manufacturers one if like most of us you’ve
had to buy it yourself. But why wear one especially if you’re shooting indoors or on an overcast
day, it‘s hardly got any sun to keep out of your eyes after all? (ED – more likely to keep the rain off your glasses)
It’s about focus, you need peripheral vision for lateral targets which is why we wear the type of
glasses we do but unlike clay shooting we rarely need to see up high. By removing the sky from
your vision it’s easier to focus on the target array in front of you as well as any obstacles you may
encounter when traversing the range. But don’t forget to either remove it completely or turn it back
to front for that “homeboy” look for those prone stages.
Trousers, yep you’re going to need some unless you fancy sporting a kilt (which is OK at Shotgun matches but prohibited by rule 5.2.3 from Handgun events), but what type? Combats
are pretty popular due to fit not being too tight or too loose with 5.11 being one of the favourites
due to their rugged construction and good fit. In an ideal World a stretch type fabric would be preferable as it would allow good flexibility and movement but there are only a couple of shooters who wear these type of trouser though the Italians do have team shooting trousers that are made in a stretch fabric so it can be done, not as cheap as combats though and it helps if you have the legs for them. Jeans though worn
by a few are usually just too restrictive for easy movement so not as common as you’d think.
Short or long? Depends on the temperature and how nice your legs are I’d say. There’s no
advantage to either as for a kneeling stage knee pads are always an option and sometimes an
advantage, they’re available from DIY stores or places like Double Alpha for dedicated shooting ones which are easier to run in.
Now the most important item of all the shirt. Excusing the colours and patterns for a moment,
which often resemble an explosion in a paint factory, it’s the fit and material we’re interested in.
The fit should be good enough to allow movement without being too baggy so you can catch it on
things, like grabbing a handful of shirt together with the cartridges for a reload… equally the
material should allow your body to breath and sweat without causing any problems. Modern
materials are usually fast wicking and drying as most if not all are made from man made fibres,
which is one of the reasons you see the vast majority of practical shooters looking so elegant. You’ll
also notice a lack of pockets and only an opening neck to remove chances of extraneous obstacles
catching the shirt.
So why do we wear such lairy shirts, apart from fulfilling a childhood dream of looking like Ronald
MacDonald that is? Usually so the teams and clubs can easily be identified, let everyone know
which manufacturers have been generous with sponsorship and which Country we’re from, plus
announcing which competition we are competing in or which competitions we have competed in.
But one of the strongest arguments for bright colours is to remove the appearance from a combat
shooting style and take it into an International sports shooting arena.
With extreme temperatures then undershirts come into play with makes like Under Armour being
very popular for their wicking properties in high temperatures and warming properties in colder times, that’s without the compression characteristics giving support.
Underwear, well I’m making a big assumption in saying that you wear some but remember
whatever you chose it’s got to be all day long comfortable, the last thing you want is chafing boxers
to distract you on the last couple of stages. And socks should be supportive to alleviate stress to the
feet, after all why do you think athletic socks are slightly elasticated? Yep support which helps with
movement and concentration on those late in the day stages.
One really important thing is that no matter what the weather is when you come to shoot remove all
coats, jumpers etc. as you need to be able to move and mount the gun correctly, if you’ve only just
started shooting IPSC PSG then it’s easy to think “as it’s raining I’ll keep my coat on” but you’ll
find your movement restricted and the gun will mount in the wrong position causing misses and
much slower times. Watch the top guys and they’ll always remove coats, jumpers etc. before
starting a stage.
Talking of weather then don’t forget to take enough clothing to be able to keep warm and dry, there
are some ranges where the weather can be challenging whether it’s hot or cold, or raining, or
snowing, or windy. I think you get the point. Being warm and dry prior and post to shooting is
incredibly important if you want to enjoy the day so as to perform to your maximum ability.
One of the most important things is comfort, a day on a range in a competition or even up to five
days in a World event is a tiring time, so wearing something that gets uncomfortable after 3 or 4
hours is to be avoided as it’ll distract you from your focus and reduce your score.
Always remember 50% of practical shooting is looking good, the other 50% is knowing you look good….