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Chapter 11

Clothing, Equipment and Accessories

In your rush of enthusiasm to ‘get started’ you can easily spend a small fortune on your firearm and shooting equipment, only to find it is totally inappropriate or that in fact you really prefer another shooting discipline that requires different equipment.

And certainly don’t turn up at your shooting Club dressed like Rambo or a member of the Special Forces. At the very least you will be the subject of much caustic humour, or more than likely considered a potential danger, and asked to leave. Every club has a dress, equipment and behaviour code, especially when you are shooting in competitions.

Appropriate Firearm and Sights

The best advice you will be given when taking up a new shooting discipline is to use the Club’s equipment for the first 6-9 months, see what firearms and equipment other members are using, take lots of advice, and probably start with inexpensive second hand equipment if you can. For example, a second hand rifle with a good barrel might cost a few hundred pounds, while a new rifle might cost a few thousand and be an expensive mistake.


Many shooting discipline specify the types of clothing that may be used in competitions; from the tight fitting jacket and trousers of the Smallbore target rifle shooter, to the loose shooting vest of the clay pigeon shooter.

Figure 11.1: Jackets & Vests

The target rifle jacket used in Smallbore and Fullbore TR locks your torso. To test ‘fit’, raise and bend your arms, then try and bring your elbows together. The jacket should be tight enough to keep your elbows 10 inches (35cm) apart. The idea is that when you move your arms, the whole upper torso should rotate.

As an illustration of ‘acceptable’ clothing:

  • Hat – a hat should afford adequate shade and shelter to eyes and Rearsight.
  • Jacket – a purpose made jacket made of Cordura/leather that gives support across the back, with padding for the butt, upper arm under the sling, and elbows. Specialist jackets are made for: prone, standing and 3-position target shooting (e.g. AHG Anschutz, Kurt Thune, Sauer), High Power (e.g. Creedmoor Sports) and for Clay Pigeon shooting.
  • Glove – when using a sling a purpose made Cordura/leather glove may be worn to protect the forward hand from the sling and forward slide swivel or handstop.
  • Wet Weather Clothing – for wet weather on outdoor ranges a waterproof cape or mackintosh, trousers and boots are required.

Ear Defenders and Shooting Glasses

All shooting disciplines require you to wear ear defenders or adequate earplugs. Competition shooters also invest in specialist shooting glasses.

Ear Defenders

Hearing protectors come in all shapes and prices, subdividing into Ear Defenders and earplugs. Ear defenders range from cheap models that suppress all sound, to increasingly expensive electronic models, that filter out high-pitch discharges but allow you to hear people speaking.

Figure 11.2: Hearing Protectors
Likewise, earplugs range from cheap disposable or soft rubber inserts, to expensive custom-made devices that distinguish between firearm discharges and low-level background noise.

Shooting Glasses

Eyeglasses for shooting either improve optics or provide eye protection. Target rifle shooters, especially Smallbore, often use specially made eyeglasses, with adjustable lens, nosepiece and an opaque shield for the non-dominant eye.

Figure 11.3: Eyeglasses
In contrast, Black powder and Clay pigeon shooters wear eyeglasses that provide better visibility (cf. sunglasses) and also protection from dust and discharge.

Slings, Rests and Bipods

Depending on your shooting discipline, there are a massive range of slings, rests, sand bags, mono-pods and bi-pods.

Figure 11.4: Slings and Rests
As a taster, Figure 11.4 shows a typical target rifle sling, an adjustable front rest used by F-Class and Benchrest shooters, a so-called Harris-type bipod mounted on the fore-end of the rifle, and shooting sticks used in field sports.


The sling is an essential piece of equipment in most rifle shooting disciplines: Fullbore, Smallbore, High Power, Practical and Service rifle. Its purpose is to support the rifle with minimal muscular effort, giving the shooter a solid shooting platform. Slings come in a variety of styles and materials; such as Cordura, leather or cotton webbing. Slings loop around the upper arm and attach to the forend with a hook or bolt. Target slings need to be tight and so usually have a wide cuff where the loop goes around the upper arm, to reduce pinching and circulation loss [1].

Rests and Sandbags

Rests and sandbags are popular for long-distance prone shooting, Benchrest shooting, and also for zeroing a rifle. The front rest (illustrated in Figure 11.4b) is engineered to allow the height to be precisely adjusted, and a variety of rest ‘tops’ are available for the different shooting disciplines.

In contrast, the ‘sandbag’ or rear rest is a leather, suede or Cordura bag filled with sand. During shooting the height of the rear rest is varied by squeezing the bag with the non-trigger hand.

Bipods and Shooting Sticks

Bipods are two-legged devices that attach to the rifle forend and function as a portable rest. There are two basic types (see Figure 11.4): the Harris-type bipods that are attached to the front stud, and Shooting sticks for sporting rifle that can be monopods, bipods, or tripods.

Good bipods are adjustable for height and canting. Bipods must always be attached to the rifle stock, never the actual barrel, since it would affect the barrel’s vibration and cause a shift in the point of impact of the bullets. With shooting sticks, it is good practice to rest the rifle forend in the palm of the hand, and the hand on the top of the shooting stick.

Mats, Spotting Scopes & Scorebook

Other pieces of equipment you will need for many target rifle disciplines are: a) a waterproof shooting mat, with a non-slip surface at the front for your elbows, b) a high-powered spotting scope, with a 60-80mm lens if you shoot out to 1,000 yards, and lastly c) a scorebook. Because the scorebook is so important for target shooting, Chapter 17 is devoted to its use.

Figure 11.5: Mats and Spotting Scopes

Gun cases, Sleeves & Range Bags

To protect your firearms and other shooting equipment in transit you will need hard or soft gun cases, and also a range bag to carry your ammunition, scorebook and any tools.

As a word of warning, airlines are notorious in the shooting community for damaging rifles and shotguns in transit. So if you are planning to shoot abroad in competitions, you will need super-strong aluminium cases. For taking weapons to the range a hard plastic or soft gun case is suitable.

Lastly, you should get a range bag to carry all your accessories. The two basic types are: firstly the so-called Bisley design (see Figure 11.6c) that doubles as a shelter for your scorebook during shooting, and secondly a standard hold-all (ideally with internal dividers).

Figure 11.6: Cases and Bags

Cleaning Equipment

Finally, you will need a set of rods, brushes and jags, plus solvents, oils and greases for cleaning your firearm. Every shooter has their favourite set of cleaning procedures and equipment. So Chapter 54 covers cleaning of rifles, pistols and shotguns in detail.

Further Information

  1. Glen D. Zediker, “Slings and Things”, Zediker Publishing (2007).
  2. National Rifle Association (UK), “The NRA Rules of Shooting and Programme of the Imperial Meeting Bisley”, (2007).
  3. National Rifle Association (USA), “Competition Rules”,
  4. International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), “Rules”,
  5. Sinclair International, US catalogue specialising in rifle target shooting supplies and equipment.
  6. MidwayUSA/UK, comprehensive US and UK catalogue of shooting supplies and equipment.
  7. Edinkillie Sporting Services, Online Catalogue, UK catalogue specialising in target shooting equipment.
  8. Neal Johnson Gunsmithing Inc., Online Catalog, US catalogue specialising in target shooting equipment.


Clothing, equipment and accessories are highly specialised. Therefore it is recommended to ask fellow club members for advice on where they purchase their equipment.


Organisation National Smallbore Rifle Association Shop
Telephone 01483 485509
Address Lord Roberts Centre, Bisley Camp, Brookwood, Surrey GU24 0NP
Web site
Organisation Sinclair International
Telephone +1 260-493-1858
Address 2330 Wayne Haven St., Fort Wayne, IN 46803
Web site
Organisation Midway UK
Telephone 0845 22 66 055
Address P.O.Box 4300, Warwick CV34 9BR
Web site
Organisation HPS TR Ltd.
Telephone +44 (0)1452 729888
Address PO Box 308, Gloucester South, England, GL2 2YF
Web site
Organisation Edinkillie Sport Services Ltd.
Telephone 01324 711747
Address PO Box 21615, FALKIRK FK1 2YW, Scotland, UK
Web site
Organisation Intershoot Ltd.
Address PO Box 86, Omagh, BT78 9AQ
Web site
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