Apprentice Trails Guides
Week two of our Apprentice Trails Guide course started off quite exciting; the first day of our last week of firearms training and it rains! We decided to carry on practising with dummy rounds in the Lapa of Ulovane campus. The point of this exercise was to build our muscle memory to get our fundamentals of handling the rifles right. The next day we went to the outdoor shooting range and started practising with live rounds. We have all realized that the big ‘bang’ from the rifle was much more intimidating than the actual recoil. Due to our practice in the Lapa, we started building the necessary muscles which helps us hold the rifle better. The ladies in our group found it much more cumbersome and heavier to hold, so the practice beforehand helped tremendously.
I must say I am very proud of everyone, we all did very well. For people like Sandra, who has never shot any kind of firearm in her life, to Chiracq and Francois who look like they have years of experience. Of course, however, we wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for Piet who teaches us how to shoot effectively and accurately. The following day we had more practising; well that’s what we were told! But for Chiracq, he ended that day as being the first one to pass his Advanced Rifle Handling (ARH) as Piet was silently assessing him from his first exercise because it was within the requirements to pass. He carried on the day by doing all his exercises correctly and ended the day with a pass. We were all very proud of him.
The following day dawned with much-needed rain for the area, but it does, unfortunately, affect our ability to shoot at the outdoor range. We have been told that ironically, every course when it comes to ARH or practical assessments it always ends up raining!! After eventually getting to the range after the rain had subsided a bit, we had what I call a very good day, everyone did very well and learned more to better our techniques for Friday, as this will be our last day to pass ARH. Soon after having packed up to make our way back to Ulovane, we suddenly and VERY surprisingly spotted a Bat-eared fox! This sighting made our day!! A Bat Eared Fox is very rare to see as they are nocturnal, and we happened to come across it in mid-day.
The following day it was the official day off ARH assessments, and we all did very well. Unfortunately, the lion charge simulation got to all of us. It’s a tricky exercise to pass. However, thinking back to the first day of shooting until now, I must say we all grew tremendously. We have learned and achieved much more than we thought we would. And most importantly we enjoyed every second of it. We end our week by studying for our first exam as well as preparing for our first walk on Monday!
I think the only way for you to grow and evolve is to keep listening, keep moving forward, keep jumping in and trying to experience. Dianne Reeves
Apprentice Field Guides
A fabulous week learning how to read the environment through geology, astronomy and weather and climate.
We spent a few hours in the classroom with Ben and Shani taking us through the various formations we find throughout, like geological formations of the land, and then on to the skies; stars, galaxies and planets. We learnt how everything is interconnected, including weather, climate and solar systems, and how they work in connection with the world we know today. We learnt about the weather experienced here locally on Ulovane reserve, as well as on the neighbouring Amakhala Game Reserve, with a general overview of South Africa.
During this week, we also got to spend some time practising our theoretical driving skills we learnt about in week 1, with all of us in the team taking turns to drive the 4 x 4 game drive vehicles up steep inclines as well as down steep and tricky declines too, whilst all along discussing geological formations and weather and climate as we waited for the sun to set.
Once the sun set, we all went on our first night drive as students; quite the experience if you have not experienced this before! On the way back to Ulovane we stopped on one of the open plains, jumped out of the vehicle and lay down on the ground, staring up at the heavens. With the help of Brett, we identified some planets and constellations in our night sky. My highlight was using the southern cross to obtain the celestial south pole and finding where true south is on the horizon. We then looked at our orbiting satellite otherwise known as the moon, and some light discussion about the various phases of the moon and the timings thereof.
Mind-blowing stuff and highly recommended by all of us in the class!
To close the week off we packed our bags for a one night stay on Amakhala Game Reserve, driving through the reserve to some unchartered territory for us students. We arrived and set to work straight away on collecting enough wood to keep a fire going for the whole evening. After we had settled in and had our fire ready for our “braai”, the night air was filled with the sound of lions calling to one another! As could be expected we all almost had a heart attack but quickly decided we need to go find these lions calling, and so we set off on a short drive to try our luck! Unfortunately, we did not manage to see the lions but just hearing them whilst sitting around a fire gave us all the feel of the African bush. Once dinner was done, we all took turns for guard duty; fun for some but not so fun for the sleep lovers!
In the morning we had some interesting experiences to help us understand and practise listening skills, a great team-building exercise! I won’t give too much away for further students reading this, but it was very, very fun…. Somewhat sleep-deprived and hungry, we packed our bags and headed home for a chilled Friday night of relaxation.
On Saturday we had some physical conservation work of collecting firewood!
“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.” ―