Apprentice Trails Guides
Shooting Range Action!
Week two began with an early start for us to get to the outdoor shooting range to begin practising for our final Advance Rifle Handling assessment at the end of the week. After having arrived, we learnt how to set up the targets on the range so that we can work efficiently in the days that followed. On this first day, we only practised running through the rifle exercises with ‘dry runs’, which means we only had dummy rounds in the magazine to practice the drills with. After practising, our instructor Piet gave us the opportunity to shoot a live round so that we could feel the recoil of the .375 calibre rifle. I was pleased to feel it was not as much as what I was expecting.
The next day at the range continued in much the same routine, but this time we worked with live rounds and not dummies; I think now all our nerves increased slightly. We set up the range and began; I learnt a lot and my first time was not a pleasant experience because it’s a lot of hard work and different if you are not accustomed to shooting, which I am not. You also need to be in the right mindset which, unfortunately, I was not. So I didn’t carry on with the rifle that day. It is imperative that your mindset is right and focused when shooting with the rifle, so taking a break for myself that day was the right decision to make.
Mid-week through our shooting range practice was much better for me, as I had worked on my mindset and felt much more prepared this time. We got to see our instructors Schalk, Piet and Shani do the same exercises we were doing too, which was encouraging. I managed to complete all the exercises that we needed to do, but the final exercise whereby we have to initiate a sequence of stopping a lion charge, is the most difficult one, as the lion (or sometimes a hippo), is coming at us at 7m a second!! It is a challenging target to shoot successfully. The rest of the day we had some time to relax and then left on a game drive to do some tracking which went well. We all learnt some new tips on what to look for in the tracks to help us determine who they belong to.
Thursday morning we again headed to the range to continue practising and we all improved a lot from the start on Monday! Practising really does help. What I learned this day is that I needed to practice my accuracy which would help me tremendously with passing the exercises. I managed to successfully place my shots on all the targets that I needed to, except for 2. One of our classmates passed the ARH assessment this day, which was great! For the rest of us, however, we had our next attempt the following day.
Our last day at the shooting range for the week! Those of us that still needed to pass the assessment, all got ourselves in the mindset we needed to be in in order to pass. The rain on Friday made everything extremely challenging so Piet made the decision to have Monday as the final opportunity for us to try for our ARH. After a very wet, cold and windy morning, we came back to camp and started a warm fire inside where we then carried on with workbooks and study notes for Sunday’s exam. We have a sports club called Sidbury very nearby to Ulovane, so on Friday night, we went to have some fun and relax after the tense week of ARH, as well as to meet other guides and staff from the Amakhala Game Reserve.
I can’t wait to see what comes next along this journey!
Never give up. There are always tough times, regardless of what you do in anything in life. Be able to push through those times and maintain your ultimate goal. Nathan Chen
Apprentice Field Guides
Exploring our new Classroom – Amakhala Game Reserve
Already into week two of our course and so much has been learnt! We had some exciting activities and interesting lectures this week. My most favourite moment and practical activity of this week was definitely our sleep out on an area of Amakhala Game Reserve, called Carnavondale. Justin and Schalk took us on this sleepout. It was an activity enjoyed by all as we seem to have become more comfortable with one another and being out in the bush, relying on each other for safety and teamwork to get things done, meant we all opened up more to each other. This is something positive I took away from this sleepout!
The morning after the sleepout we had a trust activity, where one of us were blindfolded and had to be led through obstacles by a partner. We weren’t allowed to use any spoken words, only sounds! It was difficult at first, as we were getting the sounds wrong, but with practice and perseverance, we got it right. I was paired with Jenna and she didn’t make me fall or walk into a thorn tree, which made me quite happy!
I’d say in this week I really learned a new personal skill, and that was not being afraid to be myself around others. Opening up and talking to my fellow classmates about themselves helped me understand some things about myself I wasn’t aware of before, as well as understanding other points of view!
Astronomy was my favourite subject we had this week. It fascinated me to learn about a few of the constellations which are visible in our night sky at this time of year. I really enjoyed that we got to practically put into perspective what we learnt in the classroom by going stargazing! Thankfully the weather was great for this.
It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin