As we move toward the winter season, there is going to be a much greater chance of shooting in inclement weather, anything from extreme cold, to mist and fog, and in the UK, a huge chance of rain. There are a few things that you need to know about this watery menace, so within this article we are going to look at clothing and how to keep dry, gun prep and how to protect your rifle from corrosion, and finally, we’ll do a test to see if shooting in the rain will affect the pellet's flight, and I must admit, I was surprised at the result.

Okay, so let’s start off with the basics. Shooting in the wet can be miserable; you get cold, clammy and everything is just a bit less fun, but if you are shooting in a series like the Southern and Midland Hunters, there are times when you need to just suck it up and get on with it. 


The secret to shooting in the wet is preparation, and if you prepare properly, you stand a much better chance of coming in with a good score. Of course, the first thing you always need to do is check the weather forecast the day before. It can be lovely on a Saturday, but I’ve driven to a shoot on the Sunday, and a hour after I’ve got there, the heavens have opened up. 

So, what do we do if it’s going to be wet? Well, the first thing we need to do is prepare our gun bag. There is a good chance that the lenses of your scope will get wet at some point, so take some soft cloths in plastic bags and place them in your gun bag where they will stay dry. Even if you get one wet, you will have a back-up, and if you have flip-up covers, fit them or take a bikini cover. Always carry a flask of tea or coffee because this can keep you going on a cold and wet course, and take some snacks – your body burns more fuel trying to keep warm.

Moisture prevention pouches for gun slipsWATERPROOF

You’ll need a good set of waterproofs and a favourite is Gortex army surplus, but unfortunately, if you are on the more rotund size, these are not available. A trouser and jacket set does have a drawback; when the weather is very bad, the mat that you lie on to shoot will often become waterlogged, and as you move around on it, little puddles of water that can form will ride up inside your jacket and you will get a wet stomach. For me, I prefer the ‘bib and brace’ waterproof because this keeps your mid-section dry – and they are very warm. Essentially, what I am saying is, buy the best that you can afford, and the more rubberised you get, the dryer you will be. Add a waterproof, warm hat, and a glove for your trigger hand, and you can take on the world!

If you have boots that have started to leak over the years, they can be resealed with Nikwax, or use a pair of Sealskinz socks. These are waterproof and will keep you lovely and dry, but they can make your feet stink to high heaven. I love mine, though, and there is nothing worse than shooting with wet feet.

Make sure that any paper you use  – score cards, aim-points etc – is kept dry. At Redferns, my aim-points were written on paper, and by the time I’d got halfway round, they’d become a soggy mess and were unreadable. Also, I keep score cards in a DVD case – just cut a piece of laminate from a laminated pouch, place this over the cards and it will help keep them dry.

Once you’ve sorted out your waterproofs and your kit is as watertight as it can be, it’s time to shoot, and the rain can be your friend. When you look through your scope, look at the way the rain is falling. You can often see which way the wind is blowing by the slant of the rain, too, but you’ll need to remember a few things; chances are that the rain will cause everything to be dark, so don’t use ‘blur’ because it will lie to you. If you are wearing a big coat to keep dry and warm, when you lie down, make sure that the coat’s collar doesn’t get between your face and the stock because this will affect your aim-points. It’s a good idea to practise in your wet-weather clothing, and sometimes taking a kneeling shoot in waterproofs is not easy!

The effect of rain on air rifle accuracyACCURACY IN THE RAIN

The big question is, will shooting in the rain affect your pellet's flight? This is a very interesting question and my first port of call for an answer was Jason Lockett, a top-flight bench rest shooter, and as these guys measure in millimetres, he would know. Jason told me that rain absolutely does have an effect on trajectory, not just because of pellet deflection as it moves through the rain, but also by air density and pressure. He told me about a shooter by the name of Jerry May. Jerry had shoot two perfect 250 cards, then it started to rain and he shot a 231. Things like this don’t happen in BR, so the rain must have made a difference.

With this in mind I set up a test. I paced a card out at 25 yards and set up a hose pipe to simulate rain at the target. I shot the target with no rain and the pellets all hit their marks, then switched the ‘rain’ on. Every single shot dropped low by around 5mm – exactly what Jason had predicted. I did this multiple times and every time – no rain, bang on target; with rain, 5mm low. From now on, if I’m shooting in heavy rain, I’ll be aiming a bit higher!

Gary Chillingworth shooting an air rifleYOU WILL SURVIVE!

So, we’ve moved around the course, handed our cards in and now it's time to go home. The gunbag is soaking wet and it’s a two-hour drive back. In the past, I’ve recommended drying the gun off and placing it in a gun slip for travel, but at Redferns, a shooter said to me, “Gary, that’s overkill. Just get an old towel and wrap the gun up, then place it in the gun bag.” 

This is a great idea and will keep the rifle dry until you get home and are ready to transfer your rifle into its cabinet or case. One of the best things that you can have is Napier Vp90 – a sachet that looks like a teabag that you leave in your gun cabinet, or case. When opened it releases a monomolecular vapour that bonds to metals, but not wood, laminate, leather or glass, and this molecular mist prevents corrosion of metal.

They last between 6 and 12 months and I used to replace mine every 9 months, but like an idiot, I forgot to replace mine last year and my TX suffered the consequences. I have ordered a new one from my local gun shop because they were out of stock, and for £8 a year, they are definitely worth having.

Shooting in the rain can be horrible, but buy a brolly, get some good waterproofs and look after your kit and you can survive it – and trust me, when you come off the course cold and wet, the bacon roll and mug of tea will always taste so much better.