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Does SAHGCA put too much emphasis on shooting range activities?

The Association often receives comments that too much time is dedicated to shooting activities to the detriment of hunting, or that SA Hunters and Game Conservation (SAHGCA) has become a shooting association.

Every person who regards him/herself as a responsible hunter will strive to improve his/her shooting skills. To fire a few shots before the hunting season starts is not adequate preparation for the hunt. Game farmers often comment on the poor shooting skills among hunters and they have every right to complain when ill-prepared hunters wound animals. From the moment that you see the animal in your sights, you take on an enormous responsibility to kill it with the first shot. This implies that the hunter must be an experienced shottist that is fully aware of his/her limitations and knows when to shoot and when not to shoot.

Many of our members do not participate in the various shooting opportunities that the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association offers at branch, regional and national level. The benefits of these activities include:

  • improving your shooting skills as a hunter
  • promoting safe handling of firearm
  • offering ad hoc shooting training by experienced members of the branch
  • participation in shooting days at branch level
  • opportunities to qualify for shooting competitions at national level in SAHGCA

On the comment that SAHGCA has turned into a shooting association, my response is as follows:
Because an insufficient number of hunters participate in regular shooting activities there is a dire need to create and expand opportunities where members can participate and practise their shooting abilities. The Association aims to involve more members in shooting activities towards improving the shooting skills that makes us better hunters. Therefore, it is in the interest of the Association and its members that SAHGCA is seen to focus on shooting skills development.

If the criticism is aimed at people upgrading their equipment such as rifles, telescopes, etc. and reloading custom ammunition for use on the range, it is yet again an extremely positive development because it demonstrates dedication towards achieving excellence in a particular field.

I agree that there is a difference between dedicated competition equipment and practical equipment for hunting. For example a 7 kilogram rifle with a 26 inch, heavy bull barrel and a telescope suited for long range shooting may not be ideal to hunt in the Bushveld. Depending on the calibre/trajectory combination of this rifle, this may be an excellent choice for a springbuck “voorsitjag”. But those are the choices that every hunter has to make along the road to cater for different shooting and hunting scenarios. This diversity makes shooting and hunting such a wonderful outdoor activity, especially to the addicted among us! We love the opportunity to learn, experiment and adjust our equipment until we are satisfied with the end result!

Someone once said that the ability to be a “good shot” depends on:

  • Firstly the fact that you have to shoot;
  • Secondly, you have to shoot as frequently as possible; and
  • Finally, a hunter should shoot frequently from simulated field positions

The different shooting exercises designed by the Shooting Committee of SAHGCA simulate the hunting of plains, bushveld and large, dangerous game on a shooting range. There are various other shooting exercises available. Regular practice from different shooting positions both on the shooting range and in the veld hones hunters’ shooting skills and enable them to shoot with confidence on live prey. You develop a feel for your own limitations, which in my opinion, is the most important skill a true hunter can possess.

The Association can never concentrate too much on the development of shooting skills of its members – too little, yes!

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