A shot in the dark? Certainly not. Advanced Rifle Handling at Safari Guide of the Year 2022.

“To shoot or not to shoot, that is the question.” ― Steven Magee




Hosted at the Southern African Wildlife College by Bushwise, dressed by Ruggedwear the finalists were out on the shooting range to complete the Advanced Rifle Handling assessment.




If you want to know what sort of damage a large calibre rifle can cause, then look no further than this steel pole at the College shooting range.

The ‘small’ hole is the entrance hole and the larger one is where the bullet made its exit. A sobering image indeed.

And that is why there are safety officers on site when an ARH event takes place.




Smartly dressed in the new Ruggedwear shooting shirts (they have a padded area where the rifle butt rests)

The shirt, designed by James Steyn, carries his branding which is the silhouette of a Wild Dog. Well done James, a career change lies ahead?

From L to R: Solomon, Nico, Liam, Howard (MD of Ruggedwear), Cameron and Ruvan.




Big, bigger biggest?

.375, .505,.458. Each with enough stopping power to get the job done.

For this particular event, it seemed that all the finalists were using the .375, while the judges and some of the guests used the .505.




These are the business ends of the weapons that were brought to the range that day.

Treated with caution and the finalists and the judges constantly made certain that they were unloaded and safe when not at the firing line.




Deputy Minister of the Department of Tourism, Mr Amos Fish Mahlalela was in attendance, giving credibility to the event.

This was the first time in the history of the event that anyone, let alone a Deputy Minister, from the Department of Tourism, has attended.

Kudos to all those who were instrumental in getting him to the event. His presence certainly added gravitas to an already well respected event.




This is the sort of grouping that you want a qualified Trails Guide to be able to produce.

Constantly and consistently is the name of this game.




Time to load up.

And only once each finalist is at the shooting line.

The .375 that was being used is a far cry from the 7.62 R1 that I fired when I was doing my National Service back in 1971.




Making certain that there will be no jamming once the chamber has been locked and loaded.




Eyes front as a cartridge is ejected.

All the rounds fired have to be accounted for, so all the brass was collected and tallied up after each round.

And at the price of rounds today, this was an expensive exercise. (a round can cost upwards of R200.00 each for a factory round and not much less for reloads.)




Each finalist had his own way of preparing for each element of this assessment.

Solomon would listen to instructions from the range officer and would then hunker down to centre himself before starting to fire.

He was very nervous before this event, but as it turns out, there was no need as he was the eventual winner of this category.




And making it all the more awkward is the fact that he shoots left-handed with a right-handed rifle.

You can get left-handed weapons, but they are outlandishly expensive and it is easier just to learn to shoot in ‘reverse’.




Solomon participating in Hayley’s Hop.

I wondered why the targets were of a retreatting hippo, but as was explained to me, if it has been injured, it needs to be neutralised before it can injure or kill an innocent bystander or guest.




Charlie Haley ‘invented’ what has become known as Hayley’s Hop.

And this is guest judge Gawie proving he still has the stamina to complete it

Personally, I think that his socks has something to do with his speed and agility.




James Steyn, who was both judge and range office for the day, showing the correct stance when shooting.




Deputy Minister of the Department of Tourism, Mr Amos Fish Mahlalela, being coached by James, before being allowed to fire off a couple of rounds.

A fitting end to the final event of Safari Guide of the Year 2022.

The Deputy Minister was not yet done as he had to make a speech at the awards evening that was going to take place on the last evening of the week.



With thanks to all the sponsors, without whom, Safari Guide of the Year 2022 would not be the success that it was!






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