Lock ’em, load ’em, fire ’em off

False Bay Sports Shooting Clubs director Damian Enslin, right, helps load his daughters .22 revolver at the weekend. Co-opted member Gavin Duxbury looks on in the background.

This weekend the range in Glencairn expects to see a flood of new faces as they have an open day, where visitors will get to try their hand at everything from pistols and revolvers to shotguns, rifles and even a .50 calibre sniper rifle.

Before even stepping onto a range though, executive committee director, Damian Enslin, and co-opted member Gavin Duxbury, remind you that at all times, the number one rule is safety. In fact, they reiterate that the top four rules are safety, safety, safety and, yes, you guessed it, safety.

“The number one thing any shooter needs to remember is that guns need to be treated with respect. To ensure safety we have rules at the range and demarcated safety areas for loading and unloading weapons. Firearms are required to be holstered or bagged and eye and ear protection are to be worn on all ranges. Range number 1 is usually for beginners and there are always range officers on hand to ensure that all shooting is done in a safe manner.

“The public needs to realise that shooting is not always about harming someone or even defending your life. For us, this is a sport and a hobby – golf was just not for me. It’s important for us to show that there is an enjoyable, constructive side to shooting that can be enjoyed by the whole family in a fun and safe manner,” said Enslin.

This is something he takes to heart and his show of faith in the safety methods and the idea that this sport is for anyone, young and old, is evidenced by the fact that even his 12-year-old daughter, Gabriella, tackles the range targets with her .22 revolver and observes the safety aspects laid out before her.

“Gabriella has been brought up with the four safety rules – to always treat a firearm as loaded at all times, to point the firearm in a safe direction, to keep her finger off the trigger until she is on target and to know her target and what is behind it.

“I feel that safety procedures introduce discipline and focus in children and Gabriella knows that a firearm in the wrong hands can be dangerous but that when treated with respect, they can be handled safely. I definitely feel she has matured as a result of training and she has a new confidence in herself and her ability to handle the weapons. This education is key,” he said.

Duxbury, who is in charge of electronic registration and scoring for competitions, feels that as people are exposed to the nature of shooting as a sport and educated in safety, the general infamy of weaponry can be controlled, to a certain extent. The open days form part of that mission.

“Unfortunately, firearms get a lot of bad press, due to bad people doing bad things with them. That stigma follows the responsible gun owners and shooters wherever they go. The open days help our cause as people get to experience the weapons in a secure environment. In doing so they begin to realise that the firearm is a tool and it can be used for sporting purposes too.

“There are a number of sports shooting disciplines, with the most common being those that fall under International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), 3 Gun Nation (3GN), International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts (ICORE) and Western Territory Rangers (WTR) rules.

“They all have different aspects that will attract different kinds of shooters. Some are focused on speed and moving around obstacles and incurring penalties for shooting penalty targets and so on and others might be slower and focused on defensive styles of shooting. Often real-world scenarios will be built into the sport.

“Lately, the revolver scene has taken off at FBSSC. We even have a dedicated Cowboy Action Shooting section at our club where older revolvers are used and that includes a dress-up component and steel and falling targets. So you can see there’s a lot more to it than just picking up a gun, pointing it and shooting.

“As a sports shooter I was introduced by someone that works at my gun shop and after my first match I was hooked. I love the adrenaline rush of shooting accurately and quickly and having to plan each stage.

“This weekend we will have a number of open ranges with different weapons for people to try out. The range will be open from 9am until 4pm and our cowboy shooters will also host a range where visitors can try out the black powder firearms. There will be clay pigeon shooting too and all ranges will have experienced shooters on hand to guide and assist.

“Tokens for the different weapons can be purchased at the clubhouse. Even inexperienced shooters can join, everything will be handled under supervision. The open days are always some of the most rewarding for me and just seeing all the smiling faces makes the long day worthwhile,” said Duxbury.