One of the more difficult qualifications in the guiding industry, is advanced rifle handling (ARH). My fellow students and I from the NJ MORE Field Guide College at Marataba, in the Marakele National Park, were put to the task on the 4th of May.
I knew exactly what was needed to pass — mainly a steady hand — but I wished my caffeine intake that morning had been less, as it didn’t help my nerves!
On the range, the targets seemed so close, but we knew a lapse in concentration would cause
a bad shot, ultimately leading to a fail, so remaining calm and focused was crucial. As our head trainer Mike Meidlinger says, “Your next shot is the most important shot.”
Being left-handed, I also had my reservations about successfully completing the ARH qualification, but a massive thanks to both Mike and camp manager, Barry Greenshields, who pulled out all the stops to make sure every student was competent enough to pass on the day. From on-the-range shooting to dry drills back at camp, everything was done with professionalism.
During practise, I had been extremely despondent as I had missed a few shots, but our practise targets were smaller, which helped with getting ‘our eye in’, and according to the instructors: “If you aim small, you miss small.” This made all the difference on the day and the hurdle of accuracy was easier to overcome.
The ARH qualification involves 6 different exercises designed to simulate many of the things that can go wrong while in the bush. After successfully achieving this qualification, I feel a lot more confident to enjoy the bush, especially on foot. If a problem were to arise, I personally feel I would be competent enough to deal with it in a professional manner.
Words by Darren Walker, advanced rifle handling student