Night gong shoot – 16 January 2016

It was a chilly evening for January, with a brisk south-easterly breeze, when 13 hunters and a number of spectators gathered at Piet Buys’s farm Rietkuil just outside Ladysmith to enjoy our annual Night Gong Shoot.

The main concern at any shoot is firearm safety. At a night shoot, this becomes even more important as most of the time a participant can’t see what is happening around them and the range officers can’t easily control everyone. For that reason, a large army tent was erected and well lit by a generator. Tables were set out and all firearms were placed on the tables with their bolts open, until the owner was to go forward and shoot.

The usual four ranges were set out with five gongs on each range. The distances varied from 150m to 340m. Each gong had a piece of reflective tape attached to the belt, immediately above the gong. There was a spotlight run off the battery of a bakkie for each range. The spotlight was turned on and each gong was illuminated for competitors.

Upper-Tugela-Shoot

Each range had a different shooting position. The first range was shot over shooting sticks from the sitting position. The next involved sitting at a shooting table with a high sandbag, so the butt of the rifle was not on a dead rest. The next was standing over a round hay bale that was lying on its side and covered with a tarp for safety.

The last range was from the standing position, shooting over sturdy shooting sticks, with an adjustable support for the front of the rifle, again for safety.  The top score was shot by Reggie Gerber who missed the very first gong, but hit all the rest. Second place went to Ralf Dedekind, Piet Buys and Owen Geekie who missed three gongs each. In fifth place was Johan Odendaal who missed four.

The only lady to participate was Renée Buys, who shot 13/20. For safety reasons, there were no juniors participating.

As the last of the competitors engaged the gongs, the braai fire was lit, and once the shoot was over and all the rifles put away, the cooler boxes were opened and the remainder of the evening was enjoyed by all.

Pistol shoot – 19 March 2016

As hunters, most of us have a handgun which is hardly ever used, locked away in a safe, or strapped to our side at the ready. It is safe to say that we don’t get to practise with them enough.

The Upper Tugela branch schedules one handgun shoot a year and holds many impromptu ones in between. Having noted that CHASA uses the TYRO shoot for members to qualify for Dedicated Sportsman status, we decided to run the TYRO shoot at our scheduled shoot this year.

We set the range up at Stewart Park to cater for three participants at a time, knowing from experience that there wouldn’t be that many people at the shoot. Well, we were on the money – only 11 interested parties arrived. This did, however, make things easier for the range officers. The shoot began at 2pm and took most of the afternoon, as round after round was completed. At first the time constraints of the TYRO shoot were a little prohibitive, but with a little practise it became fairly easy.

The scores varied quite substantially, with most participants shooting scores good enough to qualify as a pass in the TYRO shoot. The top score was 231/240. Two more scores of over 200 were attained and three participants wouldn’t have qualified if we had been running an official shoot. The lowest score was shot with a revolver and the owner was unable to reload fast enough to get all his shots in.

From the range, we moved up to the farmhouse where we had a late afternoon braai with lots of discussion around the topics of handgun shooting, calibres, carries, reloading and the like, which continued well into the evening.