Apprentice Trails Guides Week 1
After a much-needed week-long break, some of our Apprentice Field guide students have returned to complete their Apprentice Trails guide course. Tyler has written an account of week one of their course!
Us, once Apprentice Field Guides, now return for chapter two of this unbelievable and unforgettable journey – Apprentice Trails Guides.
We arrived around midday on Sunday, and although goodbyes to family and friends may be sad for some time, we all happened to be smiling from ear to ear as we were finally back to what we all call ‘home’, with our extended family. We were refreshed and ready for the seven-week grind to begin!
Day one of our course welcomed us in with a seven to eight-hour lecture on Advanced Rifle Handling, and although long, it was interesting and contained theory as well as practical examples from Pieter, our Trails guide instructor, which I found fascinating as it was something none of us had any prior experience in.
However, this wasn’t all for the day!! We had to complete three booklets in order to be eligible for our P.F.T.C (Professional Firearms Training Council) exam and practical shooting exercises, which we were due to complete later in the week at Falcon Firearm Training academy in Port Elizabeth.
Talk about starting off with an actual “bang”!!
The next day of our course was spent on the shooting range on Ulovane, practicing the fundamentals of shooting as well as getting our eye trained on targets. This exercise is called ‘plinking’ and we use an air rifle for this practice. We started shooting at an A4 paper target with both iron sights and a scope pellet rifle, from 15 – 20m away which took us some time to familiarise ourselves with. Before we knew it though, we all became more comfortable and eager to practice shooting at 15 and 20m with ease, with some different targets too (which were bottle caps and plastic bottles).
Charlie from Falcon Firearm Training Academy, came to Ulovane to give our theory lecture on Wednesday morning, on all the legal aspects and safe handling of firearms and rifles. It was complex but still interesting, nonetheless.
The next day was the one we had been waiting for and working towards, as without this small, yet vital step, we would not be allowed to touch a rifle during our course. However, with the correct preparation, we all managed to pass our P.F.T.C theory exams as well as the practical shoots. Definitely the most stressed I have seen Piet so far!
This was also the day that I learned that push-ups go hand in hand with errors, and for someone who learns from errors I have made, this meant a LOT of push-ups! If I recall correctly, by about 11 o’clock that morning, I had racked up about 30-40 for myself!
Friday was the first day we started handling the .375 caliber rifle that we will be using throughout the duration of our Trails course. Our first drill was one where we were blindfolded, and then we had to load and unload the magazine, shoulder the rifle, and then unload it and put it in a ‘safe’ state.
Another one of those days where errors and myself were real good friends, where I managed to rack up 60, if not more, push-ups in about two hours! One day I’ll either learn or just get really muscular, who knows!
Our week ended off with some physical work on Saturday morning across the N2 at the outdoor shooting range, doing some bush clearing before we head there next week for our actual Advanced Rifle Handling (A.R.H) qualification.
The first week is done; I look extremely forward to the upcoming next few weeks.
“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. Don’t give up.” -Robert Tew