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The development of shotgun shooting at SA Hunters

In the past, the hunting of birds in flight with a shotgun, also known as wingshooting, was perceived as a hobby among the stiff upper lip English with their Purdeys slung over their arms, while looking down their noses at the commoners. Fortunately, this stereotyping is something of the past. These days, Italian O/Us, East European SBS, and the occasional pump and bolt action and semi-automatic shotguns are very popular among hunters and sport shooters. The popularity of wingshooting is on the increase worldwide. Sound agricultural practices and a growing awareness of responsible hunting and sustainable use of gamebirds support this activity.

The reason for the growing popularity of shotguns is probably an interesting topic for discussion around the camp fire. However, a direct consequence of this trend is that more hunters are participating in shotgun shooting activities to improve their shooting skills towards a more fulfilling hunting experience, which includes preparation and utilisation of the bag; the use of hunting aids such as calls, decoys and trained gundogs to ensure a one-shot kill and to prevent the wounding of animals.

This last point has led to the greater emphasis on clay target shooting across the world. The same trend is evident in South Africa and among SAHGCA members, which led to the development of a variety of shotgun shooting exercises that are suitable for everyone: from beginners to experienced guns. The names of these exercises, i.e. Francolin, Rock Pigeon, Guineafowl and Duck echo the character and culture of SA Hunters.

Previously, range design was inflexible. Following numerous requests, it was agreed to standardise the shooting exercises to allow for the use of ranges built to international standards. These exercises can be successfully hosted on existing Compak, Sporting, Trap and Skeet ranges, which means that branches that have access to these ranges will incur no extra expenses, while branches may continue to design their own ranges when required.

This development was successful, considering that shooting scores of approximately 2 700 official shotgun shooting exercises were registered in 2016. During 2017, participation grew by almost 15% to just over 3100 scores being registered. The objective to host at least six regional shooting competitions in 2017, was exceeded when 317 guns participated in nine regional shooting competitions. Pretoria East Branch will host the National Shotgun Shooting Event at the Wattlespring Sport Shooting Club on 17 March 2018. It is an invitation event based on the rankings generated during the shotgun regional shooting competitions. Invitations will be send to qualifying guns soon. Meanwhile, guns can view their rankings here.

We want to thank Inyathi Sporting Supplies, importers of and agents for, among others, Fiocchi ammunition, Browning shotguns, Bore Tech cleaning supplies, Schaftol wood oil, and Ballistol rifle oil, for their donation of three cases 12 Bore #7.5 ammunition to each event to be given away as prizes. Branches that want to host a regional shotgun competition may contact me at SAHGCA for more information. Please note that Inyathi Sporting Supplies is a wholesaler and does not sell directly to the public. Their products are available at various retailers.

The following regions hosted shotgun shooting competitions in 2017:

  • 1 April: Eland Branch in Gauteng Southeast;
  • 29 July: Genl. De la Rey Branch in Kalahari Bosveld;
  • 5 August: Valschrivier Branch in Free State;
  • 12 August: Swartland branch in the Western Cape;
  • 9 September: Tuinroete Branch in the Eastern Cape;
  • 16 September: Pretoria East Branch in Gauteng North;
  • 7 October: Wesrand Branch in Gauteng South West;
  • 21 October: Stormberg Branch in Drakensberg Eastern Cape;
  • 28 October: East Rand Branch in Gauteng South East.

We also wish to express our gratitude towards all host branches, and congratulate them with their successful shooting competitions. All these branches have indicated that they are ready to host competitions in 2018. Cheetah Branch in the Free State is also planning a regional shooting competition in 2018. The preliminary calendar for the Regional Shotgun Shooting Competitions is available here.

Any other regions that are interested in hosting a shotgun regional event can contact Boetie Kirchner on 012 808 9300 or boetiek@sahunt.co.za for advice and assistance.

The format of the Shotgun Regional Shooting Competition is based on the Inter Branch Competition, which comprises a total of 50 clays. It can be set up as two Compak ranges with 25 clays each or as a single Sporting range comprising at least six shooting points with 50 clays.

Because the level of difficulty at each varies, the points for the ranking lists will be calculated according to the highest individual score for a specific exercise at a branch on a particular day, which will be regarded as the maximum (full marks). The score for each individual gun will be calculated as a percentage of this maximum score.

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