Sport shooting in its various disciplines is a force of social cohesion in communities. It promotes and creates social engagement among athletes, families and communities. For many years we had a very negative anti-gun approach from most of the news media and even from some community members, who are not exposed to sport shooting and the impact it can have on the youth in particular.
The marked escalation in gun crime has also had a negative impact. Gun Africa’s fantastic coverage has encouraged more firearm owners to partake in sport shooting, and to join disciplines which they never even knew existed. These disciplines are open to all gun owners, who are inspired to join the discipline of their choice.
Therefore I urge Gun Africa to host more promotional events like its inaugural 2016 Champion Lady Shoot-Off, which attracted both competitors and officials such as myself. At the end of the day, we are all public relations offi cers for sport shooting and hunting. I appeal to the varying representatives of sport shooters, hunters and licenced firearm owners to merge into a single umbrella body that will stand strongest against the anti-gun movement, and which will be able to petition national government in order to secure the rights of all gun owners as per the Constitution of South Africa. I sincerely believe that Gun Africa is an excellent catalyst in the formation of such an overarching representative body.
THE GENTLEMAN'S PERSPECTIVE
BY Wimpie van Heerder
You will see them at every sport shooting match. The shooting range widows. Sitting in lawn chairs encouraging their loved ones, husbands, boyfriends; applauding at accomplishments, consoling at failures. These ladies support us in our shooting sport endeavours making the take-away coffee or that soggy sandwich packed to keep the hunger at bay. They put up with our neverending quest for the new gadget, load or firearm to improve ourselves in our sport, without complaints (maybe).
But what happens if the shoe is on the other foot? If the lady of the house, the sister or the girlfriend is the sport shooter, showing their skill and competing against each other. On Saturday, 6 August 2016 was just such a day with the first ever Gun Africa Lady’s Shoot-Off held at the Touwsrivier Shooting Range in the Western Cape.
Yes ladies, we were there supporting our loved ones with words of support, the squeezing of a hand and I even saw a loving kiss before each stage. We, the menfolk hailing from Mars, were occupying the lawn chairs and now understand the suffering that you must go through.
Not being able to drop down behind that Truvelo CMS in 6.5 X 47 Lapua with its Night Force 5.5-20 X 56 optic and fingering its trigger with a crisp 1 pound brake sending a round downrange at 2 700ft/s was murder. All that was left to do was discuss bullet BC, bullet weight, powder loads, and muzzle velocity as our ladies moved on and shot the Mossberg 4X4 in .308 with its Nikko Sterling 3-9 X 40 and watch in anxious anticipation as you broke clay after clay. While you ladies got to shoot “Smoke and Hope” steel plate stage, we could only stare at the artwork that is the beautifully Philippine made SAM Stingray 1911 platform (one of my favourites) expending .45 round after round in the hope that maybe we will get a turn, but alas it was not to be.
You ladies were shooting tin cans off stands with the Ruger 10-22 semi auto rifle − a shooting exercise where many a boy or girl’s love for firearms developed and I could hear the men-folk talking among each other boasting that they were able to shoot pegs off the washing line. Double indignity During the shotgun stage we the men in your life had to sit back and watch you destroy clay after clay with dramatic explosive effect with the Mossberg 12 Gauge shotgun as Didier charmed you in his pronounced French accent.
As you got to the Self-Loading Rifle stage it is here we sat up a little straighter and you saw the sympathetic hand movements as rounds were loaded at speed and the magazines slammed home. That cocking lever was racked and a whole lot of 5.56mm goodness was sent downrange through the Galil/LM5. In our mind’s eye some of us could hear a distant firearms instructor barking orders to get that rifle operational.
It is at this stage that the torture got too much for me and I have to admit for a little while I had to turn my back on the event. At this stage I was suffering from serious shooting withdrawal with the snarl on my face and the saliva running down my chin to prove it. I wanted to shoot even if I had a catapult or a sling shot − anything just to shoot, but I was there to support the women in our lives and suffered in silence (almost).
To each lady who competed on the day: congratulations, especially to the winner Ester Liebenberg. May you enjoy your Tisas PX9 - 9mm pistol. To the competitors of the Gun Africa 2016 Lady’s Shoot-Off − you are women and the whole of Touwsriver, Western Cape and South Africa heard you roar.