21 February 2016
There I was, standing in the furnace called Premier shooting club, watching the end of a very good match. Organisation … check, fairly fair SO … check, less dust that expected … check, marked improvement in accuracy after the IDPA course last month … also check. So I’m fairly happy, if burnt beyond a crisp.
And then the shooter, standing facing the crowd, draws and turns. Mmm. Good SOs, yes, so they stop him immediately.
At first I don’t feel much, it’s just another DQ and the show goes on. After about five minutes or so, it sinks in … the barrel of a handgun loaded to division capacity was certainly pointed at me at some stage. Sure, the shooter’s finger might have been off the trigger, nobody got hurt and just one of the four safety rules were broken. That’s why we have four, right? So, thinking about the incident this morning, it was probably not as dangerous as it seemed.
But there is another point out there. That was the last of eight stages. We had been shooting for some five hours in what may very well have been 35 degrees Celsius at the time. Since the start of the morning, the temperature did not drop below 30, if I had to hazard a guess.
Dehydration might have been an issue. Fatigue certainly. Previous mistakes still weighing on the mind of the shooter, sure. A lack of concentration? Well I struggle with that sometimes, so who knows. Just after the first stage, I told the one SO that I thought it was a good squad; one with a lot of experience.
What I’m trying to get at it that we face a rather unique set of circumstances in the African sun. Even while running around in Oudtshoorn, in my late teens, the powers that be considered this and called people off the range and into the shade when it got too hot. Not to ensure that they don’t shoot each other, but to avoid heat stroke, dehydration and to keep people safe in a rather “dangerous” environment.
That did not happen during deployment, of course, but a different set of rules apply to training, practice and games as compared to the real thing, does it not? IDPA is not the real thing.
The SO did suggest, in jest maybe, that a siesta might be something we should consider. Take a break when the sun starts giving its best and reconvene at around 16:00 to complete the shoot.
In my view, that needs serious consideration from SADPA.