Home on the range at Makuleke Camp…EcoTraining Trails Guide students take aim.

Do NOT try this at home…
Now I can say that I have faced a firing squad…and survived.
To be clear, all the weapons were double checked for rounds
and the bolts were in the open position.
I was NOT taking any chances…
These are four of the EcoTraining students who were on the range that day.
I joined them, together with the others,
 as they participated in a practice day
 for their Advanced Rifle Handling competency assessment.

The range is not at the camp site, but about an hour away,
safe from the possible intrusion of tourist vehicles.
With EcoTraining instructors,Ross Hawkins and Cobus Spies in charge,
the set up seemed to be organised chaos.
There were targets that had to be put up,
chairs and tables to be strategically placed and
safety notices as well as a first aid kit had to be deployed.
All of this was done with an almost military precision,
where safety was the overriding factor.

The rifles were not deployed until all was in place
and the range rules had been read to all the participants.
And the all important indemnity forms had been filled out.

The first shot of the day!
I had not been on a rifle range since my National Service back in 1971,
and then I was using a weapon that shot a 7.62 round .
These “beasts” were firing .375’s!
Enough to stop the largest animals in their tracks.
In the army we were firing at
targets that were set in excess of 100m.
Here the targets were set at 12, 8 and 4m respectively.
On a trails walk, should their be an issue that requires deadly force,
shooting distance is usually at less than 4m!


This was Dalton,an EcoTraining student completing a drill.
Each student was tasked to shoot 10 rounds
 during their time on the range.
This was done in three separate exercises
in a sequence of  3, 4 and 3 rounds.
To hear what one of those exercises sounds like,
click on the audio link below:


This student was able to reload his rifle faster
than a gunslinger from the old Wild West.
The rounds literally flew from his slider into the weapon.
Everyone was impressed!


Caught in the moment…
What I thought was a muzzle flash, turned out to be a butterfly
caught in the gas cloud that exited the barrel.


Look carefully and you can see an ejected cartridge
 coming out of the breach.
Although the grouping exercise had no time constraints,
the other two exercises did.
When guides are in the bush and are faced
with a potentially dangerous situation
they have to be able to react quickly
but calmly to keep both themselves and their guests safe.
One of the students had dozed off on the
drive from the EcoTraining camp to the range.
Understandable, as it was a hot morning
 and the drive was about an hour.
When Nick awoke he was confused at to where he actually was!
He truly believed that he was on the far side of the Limpopo River.
This is an image is of the river, which I discovered does NOT flow constantly.
Behind the tree line on the far bank is Zimbabwe.
So where did Nick THINK that he was?
Listen to this audio link to find out how confused he REALLY was:
(BTW, the hilarious laughter/questioning is from instructor Ross)


For those who transgressed range rules,
push-ups were the order of the day.
They started out at 40 reps, but the last person ended up doing 60!


The “other” Nick trying to complete his push-ups.
Although there was a lot of banter about getting down,
all those who had to do, did…and completed their allotted number.


On the drive back to camp…
This Elllie stepped into the road protecting the rest of the herd
that passed behind her.


Probably the most dangerous animal in Africa.
And one that you do NOT want to meet at close quarters when out on foot.
Luckily, I was in a vehicle when I took this image.


Back at camp in time to watch the sun set…


The rest of the EcoTraining students arriving back.
Although it was getting dark quickly,
the vehicles still had to be unpacked and
the rifles given a thorough cleaning before being locked away in a safe.
Thanks to all concerned for an interesting outing.


This is the EcoTraining mission statement…
1] Vision: To be the Global leader in environmental education
 by reconnecting people with nature…
For me, the most important part of that statement
 is the word *reconnecting.
2] Mission: To provide inspirational & immersive learning experiences
 for professional safari guides and guardians of nature
and finally…
3] Values: Inspire. Professionalism. Caring and Accountability.
Are you ready to make a commitment to yourself and your future?
If so, then visit their website for more information:
A big thank you to each of these brands
 for coming on board.
This has been my constant travel companion
for the past several years.
It might look worn,
but that represents the kilometers/miles
we have shared together.
From Kilimanjaro to the beaches of India.
To coach trips across Europe and Vietnam
and to a variety of game lodges and road trip destinations
 in South and Southern Africa.
Check out their Facebook page:
This torch has been turning heads!
The Olight SRS2UT Intimidator.
Marketed locally by:
My camera brand of choice for more than 4 decades!
When it is time to print out my special images,
this is the company that I rely on to do that.
Bush gear to make me blend in…
in comfort and style.
Breaking in my new pair of Yellow Veldskoen Shoes.
They are probably the most comfortable pair of shoes
that I have ever owned.
Now to try out the rest of the colours in the range.
When I get home. I rely on this ISP
to provide me with high speed fibre connectivity
to enable me to get my postings published in record time.
This Powerbank is my constant companion
 while I am travelling.
It can do up to 4 full re-charges of my phone before
needing to be charged.
Supplied by…
Even when you are “knee-deep” in poop,
ALWAYS choose to be Batman.
My constant travelling companion.
To find out more about the collectible Funko range of figurines,
I could not do without this awesome laptop bag from Solo.
Padded for protection and with enough pockets to keep
almost everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink in,
this is definitely an stylish addition to any business presentation.
Be it in the boardroom or the bush.
This bag can also be worn as a backpack.
There are straps in a hidden compartment that can be deployed
when you need both hands for other purposes.
To find out more about the stylish Solo range,
This locally made product was indispensable when using a long lens.
The ball and socket might look simple…and it is,
which is why it should be in the gear bag of every serious photographer.
This locally made, deceptively simple device is ideal
for tracking birds in flight or animals in motion.
The base can be used on a beanbag or a tripod,
with the ball being fitted to the camera.
The simplicity of the device allows to to move from supported
to hand held in a fluid motion.
There is also a version that can be used on a car window.
To see more about the product,
visit their Facebook page:
Or order directly from:
To see who else were winners in 2018, visit:
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and may not be used without permission