By Owen Geekie
Another successful Ding Dong Gong shoot was held by the Upper Tugela branch of the KZNHCA on 21 November 2015, as their end-of-year function. Registration began at 9am on Rietkul Farm, the home of our Chairman Piet Buys. With the shoot scheduled to begin at 10am, the shooting range on the farm opened at 7am for competitors who wished to zero their rifles.

After a welcome and briefing from our Chairman, the 61 competitors and a number of spectators moved about a kilometre up the road onto the farm Piet’s Hoek, where six gong ranges had been set out. The weather forecast for the day wasn’t promising – with a strong north-westerly wind predicted. With this in mind, the ranges were made a little easier than last year’s.

Competitors were allowed to use range finders and wind meters, which proved to be useful. They were also allowed to use their own shooting sticks at ranges where shooting sticks were provided. There was no time limit set, which did make for a few delays, but simultaneously eased the nerves.

The shoot began under almost perfect conditions, but when the group was on their third range, the predicted wind began to blow. And blow it did, measuring up to 12 metres per second at times.

Range one was a prone range, shooting over an X-bag. The nearest gong was at 215 metres and the furthest at 320m. There were 4x200mm gongs and one 150mm gong.
Range two was a standing range, leaning on a tree, which made a comfortable rest. Distances ranged from 175m to 198m. Again there were 4x200mm Ding Dong Gongs and one 150mm gong. This range proved to be the most difficult as, with the wind gusting at 12 metres per second, it was impossible to hold steady on the target.

Range three was shot from the sitting position with shooting sticks as a rest. The four 200mm gongs and one 150mm gong were all placed between 213 and 260m in a dry dam.

Range four was a standing range where an old fallen gum tree was used as a rest. Targets were 200m to 265m from the shooting position. Again, there was one 150mm gong amongst the others.

Range five was set up especially for our diesel stalkers. The shooting position was from the back of a Land Cruiser. This range was slightly different to the norm. The furthest target was a steel gong in the shape and size of a bushpig, and was painted white. Within the shoulder area of the target was a 200mm gong which was painted black. The black gong was treated the same as the 150mm gongs on the other ranges scoring wise. This target was placed out at 458m. The other four gongs on the range were between 234m and 300m.

Range six was similar to range five. The four targets were white 200mm gongs placed from 202m to 256m. The white steel blesbok with a 200mm black gong inserted into the shoulder was out at 473m. A large flat rock with sandbags was used to shoot over. Sitting or lying made a fairly steady rest. Our local Spar sponsored bacon and egg rolls for breakfast before the shoot. Avis Car Rental supplied nice cold bottled water and a cool trailer to keep everything cold.

There was 61 entries, including three ladies and five juniors. The top score of the day was 25/30, shot by Hardy Tsao and Berrie van Jaarsveld. Because it was a tie, the number of small gongs and black gongs that were hit was counted. Hardy hit more small gongs than Berrie, so he took first place. In thid place was Vincent Mortlock with 24/30 and fourth was a tie between Jason Peetz and Larry Bester, who both shot 23/30. The top lady was Gert Steyn, with Renee Buys in second place and Sonja de Jager third. The top junior was Daniel Peetz with 20/30. Second place went to Hayden Anderson with 16/30 and in third place was Karl Dedekind.

Prizegiving was held at Rietkuil homestead, where a number of sponsored prizes were handed out to those who had stayed for the evening event.

J C Schoeman and his wife Pat took care of the meal for us afterwards. A young Bushpig, shot a week before, and a sheep were roasted on the spit and served with delicious side dishes.Understandably, the scores were a little lower than last year’s, but we can blame the wind for that. Despite the wind, it was an immensely enjoyable day for those who attended.