The old reference, “boer en sy roer” has an association with the modern hunter and his/her rifle. Our forbears’ way of life required them to have their rifles by their side at all times. The Boers gained the international reputation of excellent shottists that carried them through inter alia two wars against the English. Modern hunters live in a different era and they have to practise their skills continuously before they go out hunting.
Shooting ranges are becoming scarcer owing to:
- urban development which makes them unsafe and unsuitable to use;
- closing down of military commando units impacted on access to military shooting ranges;
- ranges are closed down because they are not being maintained and do not meet safety requirements
Inyahti Park assists branch management committees to find alternative shooting range facilities or to identify suitable areas for the development of new shooting ranges. A shooting range is the hub of branch activities and without access to a shooting range, branches cannot serve their members properly.
Branches in rural areas have been successful in negotiations with local authorities and private landowners to take over shooting ranges previously used by the commando units. These ranges comply with specific requirements and can be upgraded with minimum cost and effort to meet branches’ needs. Their firing points are situated at 100m intervals in some cases up to 900m – the general requirement for SA Hunters branches is a maximum of 300m.
Branch management committees are best positioned to identify opportunities in their regions. Each of the 81 branches has a shooting range while some branches have access to more than one range to use for their activities. Problems arise at shooting ranges from time to time but branches are well-equipped with creative members that deal with these matters effectively.
Inyathi Park developed a draft rental agreement that branches can use in their negotiations for shooting ranges and contracting with land owners. These agreements must be signed by the branch chairman, representing the Association, and the land owner. It ensures that the interests of both parties are protected.
The following branches have successful agreements to use military type shooting ranges in their communities: Kosmos at Standerton, Mpungini at Dundee, Soetdoring at Potgietersrus, Genl de la Rey at Lichtenburg, Hartsrivier at Delareyville, Schweizer at Schweizer-Reneke, and Makwepa at Setlagole.
Branches that have signed long term rental agreements with private landowners and built new ranges are: Bothaville, Vrystaat Sandveld at Soutpan, Grysbok at Jeffreys Bay, Platorand at Belfast, Ngwenya at Nelspruit, Bloukrans at Vanderkloof, Houtkapper at Secunda, Diamant at Wolmaransstad, Sterland at Vryburg, Duiker at Balfour, Kamdeboo at Graaff Reinet, and Koukamma at Kareedouw.
Some branches collaborate with other shooting disciplines (e.g. metal silhouette shoot, practical pistol shooting and bow shooting) to use ranges in their areas, such as: Marico Bosveld at Rustenburg, Tafelberg at Belville (Cape Town), Sandrivier-58 at Welkom and Bloemfontein Branch.
Numerous branches are busy or have concluded certifying shooting ranges by the NRCS (previously the SABS). We aim to finalise this process for all branches during the next year or two (2015). This process ensures that ranges comply with all safety requirements as prescribed by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS).
The law also requires that SAPS accredit shooting ranges where SASSETA skills training is given. This requirement is not applicable to SAHGCA shooting activities at branch shooting ranges used for shooting days, and regional and national shooting competitions.
Affordable access to a safe shooting range is one of the benefits of membership of SAHGCA. Enjoy it and remember safety first!