The restrictions that Covid-19 placed on SA Hunters’ activities at branch, regional and national level, encouraged the Association to find alternative methods to maintain contact with its members. The Garden Route Branch was very proactive and introduced successful monthly online management committee meetings since April. Subsequently, the branch used the same method for its member meetings in August to discuss the reopening of the shooting range and to explain the conditions of this move (based on the approval that SA Hunters obtained from the Minister of Sport, Art, and Culture).
At 19:00 on Thursday, 6 August 2020, the Garden Route branch held an online Zoom member meeting that enabled members to participate from the comfort of their homes. Gerhan Archer (chairman) is very happy that 70 members participated. Feedback from members was encouraging and all were in favour of having online meetings. Most members enjoyed this method. The oldest member that participated, was 82 years old. Some of the older branch members kept Gerhan busy with questions for an hour after the meeting had been concluded. Afterwards, he also received numerous phone calls from members that expressed their satisfaction with the format of the meeting.
Some of the branch members live and work outside South Africa, and they particularly enjoyed the experience to be part of the meeting and to make contact with other members. There are members in Iraq, the Isle of Man, and England. A member that has been stuck in Iraq since February 2020 because of Covid-19, was very happy to see some familiar faces.
On the evening of the online meeting, it was an icy winter’s evening in George. Gerhan is convinced that a regular member meeting would probably not have attracted more than ten people. On average, about 30 members used to attend the Garden Route Branch‘s member meetings. The attendance of 70 members during the online meeting was exceptional.
Hosting a successful online meeting depends on proper planning. Gerhan and his team clearly succeeded. Gerhan appointed two committee members to co-host the meeting and assisted with muting of microphones to reduce disturbances during the proceedings. They also assisted in answering members’ questions posted on the chat function, which further streamlined the meeting.
In order to compile the attendance register, all attendees had to submit their names and member numbers via WhatsApp. The secretary compared the participants’ detail on the screen with the information received by WhatsApp to complete the attendance register.
This member meeting served as the perfect rehearsal for the Branch’s AGM on Zoom that was scheduled for later in 2020. It was decided unanimously that the Branch would hold its AGM using Zoom on 17 September 2020. The branch adhered to the Association’s recommendation and made no changes to its management committee. It also did not have any voting or a prize-giving ceremony since there have not been sufficient shooting days for winners to be identified. Only the annual financial report and chairman’s report would be presented. The Branch anticipated attendance figures to reach 100 members. Previous years, only about 50 members attended the AGMs.
The success of the Garden Route Branch’s online member meeting is proof that members have been looking forward to interact with fellow SAHGCA members and to receive news from the national office, after been subjected to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions for five months.
Congratulations to Garden Route Branch for this splendid initiative!