One of SAHGCA's most important practical activities is to create opportunities where members can develop and improve their shooting skills and practise to use their firearms with knowledge and confidence, whether they are on the shooting range or when hunting.
The purpose of SAHGCA's shooting exercises
The purpose of SAHGCA's shooting exercises for hunters is to ensure they succeed with a one shot, killing shot, approach when hunting. A responsible hunter must know the limitations of his shooting skills. It is only through experience and regular practice that he is able to act responsibly and use his common sense when hunting.
SAHGCA's shooting exercises have been developed to simulate different hunting conditions and different animals. These exercises aim to transfer the following knowledge and skills to hunters:
- Safe handling of firearms – safe handling of firearms, always, based on the principles taught on the shooting range;
- correct shot placement – a variety of targets developed for shooting exercises simulate vital organs on different species in a realistic manner for the practise of correct shot placement;
- utilize shooting aids such as shooting sticks for a more accurate shot;
- Shooting with confidence from different positions, e.g. prone, sitting and standing;
- minimum calibres for certain species and different shooting exercises e.g. using minimum of 6.5 mm calibre in the Bushveld shooting exercise (Blue wildebeest/zebra) in bushveld conditions and the 9,3 x 62 mm Mauser as a minimum calibre in the big bore shooting exercise (buffalo);
- with regular practice at the shooting range and shooting from various positions, the hunter develops his/her shooting skills to a level where the decision to shoot or not to shoot at an animal in the veld, becomes easy. The hunter develops a very important feel for his/her own limitations in terms of shooting skills.
Shooting activities at branch level
Shooting days at branch level are the foundation of SAHGCA’s shooting activities. They can participate in standard shooting exercises and depending on their skill and results, may qualify for shooting badges (gold, silver or bronze) for each shooting exercise. Shooting days also give members the opportunity to practise and prepare for shooting competitions at regional and national level. Many members participate in the branch shooting days for their own enjoyment and to share a mutual interest with other members. Approximately 3 500 shottists participate in shooting days at 73 branches in 15 regions, which add up to 600 shooting days per year. Ammunition to the value of approximately R9 million are used at shooting days every year. This excludes the ammunition that hunters use when they hunt.
Every year from January to June, SAHGCA branches host the President Shooting Competition in each region where individuals and the Interbranch Team Shooting competition (five shooters per team) where any member can participate. The Plains and Bushveld shooting exercises are used at these competitions. Judging by the steady increase in participation by members, shooting competition are becoming increasingly popular. During the Regional Inter Branch Team Shooting Competition in 2014, 337 teams (1685 individuals) participated, compared to the 281 teams (1405 individuals) in 2013. This represents a 20% increase in participation. In the Regional President Shooting Competition in 2014, 1772 shottists participated compared to 1598 shottits in 2013. This is a 11% increase in one year.
In 2012, an Inter Branch Challenge Team Shoot Competition was added to the Regional Shooting Competitions. Teams of five shottists each compete in the Warthog and Impala shooting exercises at regional level. This competition is not intended for top shottists and they may not participate. The new Challenge series is aimed, creating more participation and to involve shottists who do not have the right equipment and abilities to compete at national levels, but who can participate as part of a team over shorter distances at regional level. During 2013, 52 teams (260 shottists) participated in competitions compared to 17 teams (85 shottists) in 2012. This is an increase of 206% in participation.
Shooting activities at national level
SAHGCA offers three major shooting competitions at national level, of which the first is the Most Versatile Shot Competition that is annually held in February and any SAHGCA member can participate. This competition comprises seven different shooting exercises, including shotgun, hunting rifle, heavy calibre, 22 Rimfire rifle and hunting handgun and are aimed at the shooters who can participate with a variety of firearms. The rules of this competition are amended every year and published prior to the competition.
The second competition is the national President Shooting Competition for individuals in September every year, where SAHGCA determines the champion shottist of the Association. The Top 20 shottists of the previous year's national competition, and the Top 100 shottists, Top 10 women shottists, Top 10 senior shottists (65 years and older) and the Top 10 U/18 year regional competitions of the current year, are invited to participate.
The national Inter Branch Team Shooting Competition is held in August every year when the Top 30 teams, based on the current year's regional results, are invited to participate to determine the Champion Team of the Association.
Since 2011, juniors can also participate in a series of shooting competitions for juniors. Elimination rounds are held at regional level and finalists are invited to the national shooting competition. Participants invited to the annual national competition in September include the Top 15 juniors under 13 years of age competing in the Airrifle shooting competition (spring type) and the Top 15 juniors under 18 years of age who compete in the 22 Rimfire shooting competition (pre-charged pneumatic airrifles may be used as an alternative for 22 rimfire).
For more information on regional and national shooting competitions, go to Rules for regional and national shooting competitions.
Shooting activities for disabled shooters
SA Hunters are busy developing a category for disabled shooters where they can participate in shooting exercises. The first Most Versatile Shooting competition was hosted by the Sandrivier-58 Branch at Welkom during June 2014 in which 19
disabled shooters participated. Disabled shooters interested to get involved are invited to contact SA Hunters national offices or go to disabled hunters on the website.
Really shooting activities for everyone! SAHGCA members who are not yet participating in shooting activities, are advised to contact their nearest branch for more information.