The much anticipated air rifle competition hosted by Magnum, Safari Outdoor, Air Arms and Bushill RSA was a great success. A total of 86 shooters of all ages gathered at the Eeufees Shooting Range in Pretoria on 29 February for a day of fun, good shooting and excellent prizes.
The final range preparations for the morning were done in the rain but this did not dampen the spirits of officials or shooters. There were 77 senior and 9 junior shooters, of whom 52 used their own air rifles and 34 chose to use the sponsored air rifles – Air Arms rifles in models S510 US, S410 or S400.
The rain stopped just as the briefing for the shoot concluded and the rest of the day was enjoyably cool. Safety was a priority for the organisers; competitors, spectators and staff at the shooting points were required to wear eye and ear protection and to adhere to the instructions of the range officers.
The competition took place across six ranges with swinging targets at different distances. At each range, five scoring shots at known distances were required and a voluntary first shot was allowed as a sighter shot. The 50 and 75mm gongs were either hanging squarely or in a diamond form to test the accuracy of the shooters.
Range one and two were ‘bush lanes’ and the hunting environment they created proved to be very popular among the shooters. The targets on both ranges were at 20m, 30m and 40m but the number of shots at each distance varied and the gong sizes. Shooters had to compete from a sitting position over a dead rest obstacle using a shooting bag provided by Bushill RSA. Most competitors managed to get good scores on these ranges.
On ranges three and four competitors were positioned sitting behind a table, also using a shooting bag and their first shots had to be at the 50m target. These two ranges were set up along a dirt road that went slightly uphill. On range three, the targets were placed at 50m, 70m and 80m and on range four at 30m, 40m and 50m. Most shooters found these ranges more challenging than the first two.
At ranges five and six, shooters engaged targets from the prone position. These ranges were set up in an open area. Range five had targets at 50m, 60m and 80m and the challenge on this range was the ‘sniper’ shot at 80m at a 50mm gong. Range six had targets at 40m, 50m and 60m. Again the last target (at 60m) was a 50mm gong. Competitors found ranges five and six the most difficult.
Many of the senior shooters who used their own rifles shared them with another competitor. Eight shooters participated with their break-barrel air rifles but most used PCP air rifles. I saw air rifles from Steyr, Kral, CZ, a custom air rifle and a lever-action Samyang Ind. Co. being used.
All the shooters seemed to have embraced the organisers’ idea of a fun shoot while at the same time getting to know their equipment and learning from others. I had the pleasure of meeting a number of competitors ranging from a 5-year-old junior all the way across the board to a few serious and established competitors. One Bisley shooter even chose to attend the event to practice his shooting skills with his air rifle at longer distances. Another shooter, a retiree, had bought his air rifle two weeks before the event and decided to participate for the sole purpose of meeting other air rifle shooters and learning from them. By mid-morning he already had several pages filled with notes.
The competitors displayed exceptional shooting skills and two ended up with full scores in the 5.5mm category. A shootout for the first place in this category was then held and Francois Opperman of Rayton, using a Steyr Hunting air rifle, won after dropping just one shot of his required six shots in the shootout.
I spoke to competitors and visitors after the event and their response was that the competition was well organised and long overdue – more such events, focusing on air rifles would be welcome.
An Air Arms S510 XS rifle sponsored by Air Arms was among the prizes in the lucky draw and was won by an elated David Fourie of Hekpoort. Our appreciation and thanks for such a successful event go to Safari Outdoor, Air Arms, Bushill RSA and Hawke who together sponsored prizes worth R60 000.
Read the full article in the May 2020 issue of Magnum.