Ngqwele Dube, Sunday Life Correspondent
FOR many the gun is a tool that is used for heinous acts or is specifically meant for the military, but some feel at home handling the weapon and would spend hours in the range practicing use of the arms.
While there has been little activity in shooting, the decision by the Zimbabwe National Army to revive the Fun Shoot has seen an upsurge in people taking part in the sport although most are not regular participants.
The ZNA has also moved in to revive shooting clubs that had been on the wane over the years as fewer and fewer people took up the sport as fears kept them away. Senior members of the ZNA have however, called on people to familiarise themselves with the weapons both as a safety precaution and also as a sport.
Speaking during a Fun Shoot held at Wollandale Shooting Range last Saturday, HQ 1 Infantry Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Augustine Chipwere urged people not to be afraid of guns but rather embrace them because they might find themselves in a situation where knowledge of guns is necessary.
Chipwere said one might need to be able to tell the difference between a real gun and fake one during a robbery while owners of guns can take the opportunity to learn more about the weapons. Commander Bulawayo District Colonel Rantham Moyo said one of the big aims of the fun shoots is to demystify the gun and myths that have seen the creation of a divide between army members and the public. Speaking in the run up to the Fun Shoot that was held at Imbizo Range last month, Moyo said shooting events are held in a safe and controlled environment allowing virtually anyone to take part.
“I know people would be worried about handling guns thinking it’s not safe to bring their kids but I want to assure them this is a safe activity with close supervision from army personnel who are well versed in handling arms. Women are also encouraged to take part,” he said.
HQ 1 Infantry Brigade Shooting Club chairman, Retired Colonel George Nare said the safety record at the shoots speaks for itself. He said the club only has 35 members but they are hoping to recruit more, particularly black people whom he said were shying away from the gun. Nare said historically shooting clubs were mainly patronised by white farmers and a decline in their numbers affected the operations of the shooting clubs.
“We had to revive the Wollandale Range about two years ago and we now have an active club with a proper clubhouse at the range. Even the racial profile of our current membership shows that we have more whites than blacks, whom we hope we can arouse interest in to take part in the sport,” he said.
A regular fun shoot participant, Darlington Mageva said he had always thought shooting was for the elite but after being introduced to the sport he has attended three shoots.
“I always thought shooting is for the elite but the fun shoots have shown me it is not so. I enjoying shooting, it is quite relaxing and provides me with an opportunity to interact with various people,” he said, adding he is considering joining a shooting club to perfect his aim.
Another avid shooter, Marks Shayamano said since the event was competitive it is important for the range to be available for regular practice to ensure on the day of the event people are able to compete on the same level.
“I love the sport but have been unable to get a place to practice regularly but now that I know where to find a club I will certainly join it. I have set my sights on being part of the Presidential Shoot and lifting the trophy,” he said.
In shooting one is required to hit target at varying distances with more points awarded for a bullet that hits closest to the centre of the target. Nare said they charge $30 joining fee with $5 being payable as range fees on the day members come for practice.
Last Saturday close to 200 shooting enthusiasts graced the Commander headquarters 1 Infantry Brigade Fun Shoot held at Wollandale. The shoot saw participants partake in events that include pistols, AK-47 Individual, PKM Team Shoot and the Falling Plates.
ZNA has partnered with the business community to create the Executive Interactive Initiative that organises shooting events that involves members of the military and civilians and Astra Holdings chief executive officer, Jabu Nkomo is chairman of the Bulawayo chapter.