Post Date: 28 Nov 2019
By Owen Geekie
It has been a fairly quiet year as far as Upper Tugela activities are concerned. We seem to have got into a rhythm with the shoots we host and have our regular dates and venues sorted. The attendance of members at a lot of the activities is still fairly low though and I encourage those who don’t regularly shoot at our shoots to try to make an effort to attend. You won’t be disappointed. One thing that is very noticeable is that there are usually more non members (not only branch but association) than members at these shoots.
Our year began with a very successful Ding Dong shoot in November. With plenty of sponsored prizes including a rifle from Wildman PMB, the shoot was well attended with 30, three man teams entering. Dewet Jacobs did an awesome job setting up the ranges at a really fantastic venue, which has set the benchmark for these type of shoots across the country. We even received a message on social media from one of SA’s top marksmen congratulating us. “Die mooi manier waarop die baan voorberei en uitgestel is, is ongeken. Dewet well-done.” Our thanks must go to our sponsors,
Wildman PMB, Safari and Outdoor, Toyota Dundee, Mica, Canvas and Tent, de Franca Spar, Hinterland, Afrivet, Coenrad Steyn, Hunters Lodge and Penny Williams for all the prizes that we could hand out on the day.
The next shoot on the calendar was the Swarovski Two Man Challenge. This shoot is hosted by Ralf Dedekind and Regie Gerber under the auspices of KZN Hunters Upper Tugela. It has become a very popular shoot with magnificent prizes up for grabs. The shoot is held at “Platrand lodge” near Ladysmith. Thank you to Whylo distributers for allowing us to have this shoot under our banner, and to Regie and Ralf for all your hard work.
We had a very late start to our rainy season this year. From drought conditions to almost flood in a matter of weeks. Being a farming area and most of our members being either farmers or directly involved in agriculture, we are very grateful for the season turning out how it did despite the rains being so late. A down side to lots of rain is its very difficult to plan and host shoots. The Night Gong shoot was a victim of these circumstances. Having had so much rain the week leading up to the shoot, and the forecast for rain over the day the shoot had been scheduled, a decision was taken to cancel it with the intention of holding a day/night shoot later when the rainy conditions abated. Unfortunately it was the wrong decision, as the weather man was way off with his prediction, and it ended up being a beautiful day and evening. Although setting ranges in the very muddy conditions at the time, was also part of the decision to call the shoot off. Unfortunately the season changed quicker than we could set an appropriate date and the evenings became too long and cold as winter drew nearer, so the 2019 Night Shoot was never held.
Rob Fortmann and Kobus Botha did us proud, yet again with the Ka-Ching shoot they set up in Winterton again this year. Usually a smallish shoot participants wise, it is never the less a fantastic shoot. There are no fancy prizes to woo the crowds, but winning some of your entry fee back is always a bonus, especially for the youngsters. The shoot was held in the same place as last year and proved challenging this time with some difficult shooting positions. It was well supported and relaxing under the beautiful nKhamba trees after the shoot, enjoying good protein and a beverage or two, is one of the reasons we participate. Thanks Rob and Kobus.
It has been a while since we held a CHASA shoot, so we ran one in September at the Estcourt Shooting Range. Hosted by the Estcourt Hunting Rifle Club. They have their annual Hogdown shoot this time of year so we thought combining the two would be an opportunity to attract more participants.
We held our 24th Fin Fur Feather Clay Target shoot this year and the 10th under the Upper Tugela banner. Numbers continue to be disappointing but at least 18 this year was better than the 10 who arrived last year. Still way down from the 46 in 2010. The Shoot seems to have found a permanent venue now at the Stewart Park Bush Camp. Easy access, good facilities and this year even the rugby to watch(disappointing to say the least). The shooting was fun though and as always a very good evening was had by all around the campfire afterwards.
It was a quiet year, but successful in many ways. We gained a few members but unfortunately lost a lot as well. From 93 members last year we are down to 85 now. Ironically our shoots are becoming more and more popular but our membership is dying slowly. Without members we won’t be hosting any shoots. As usual, it is a select few who do all the work for many to benefit. And on that note I would like to than my committee for putting themselves out to enable others to enjoy the benefits the association provides.