Adapt and overcome

Adapt and overcome

Photo by: Hunter Ferrier

BY: Remi van der Stok

Camp manager blogs are written by our students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow students) for a period of one week.

Everyone knew this was going to be an exciting, challenging week. My group would be starting rifle lessons, while the other group would be going off to learn Track and Sign at Colin Patrick Training. 

But first: four lucky students got to head out on a trails walk with Jack, a field guide trainer. I was one of them, along with Dan, Ben and Christie. 

 

Taking a walk on one of the Bushwise campus trails.

 

We set off to the eastern part of the reserve. Our only intention was to enjoy nature, but soon enough, we came across rhino tracks and Jack went straight into tracking mode. We battled our way through the bush, following the spoors of the rhinos, with only our footsteps and the rustling of grass in the air. The tracks were starting to look fresher, which meant we were getting close to the rhinos, but dusk started to set in, so there wasn’t much time left. We reached the watering hole near Two Fig Camp, hoping that we’d see the rhinos there, but unfortunately they were far ahead of us. 

The walk was a good reminder that you’re never guaranteed to find what you’re chasing in nature. You’ve just got to take it all in, and learn and experience as much as you can along the way.

 

An elephant drinking water.

Photo by: Ryan de Villiers

 

Then, on to rifle handling. Lessons start with dry handling, which is when live ammunition isn’t used. We got to practice handling a .22 and 223 rifle – it was my first time handling a firearm. When I first picked up the rifle and practised dry handling, panic kicked in because I couldn’t get sight alignment with my right eye. After a few attempts, I realised that my dominant eye is my left eye! 

I had to decide whether I would train my right eye or learn to shoot with my left hand. I practised both, each with their own challenges, and I was unsure which was better. I left the firing range feeling defeated, but my teammates were very encouraging. 

The next day we got to practise dry handling the rifle again to build our muscle memory. This was my chance to adapt and overcome. I decided that I had to learn to shoot with my left hand. With a little bit of practice, my confidence started to set in.

 

Bushwise students practice handling a rifle.

Photo by: Carl Louis Steenkamp

 

Friday was when the real fun started, because we got to practise using a .375 rifle. We did exercises like target shooting and shooting under time-pressure. Sweat, bruises and tears were witnessed, but everyone proved their potential by demonstrating impressive skill.

On Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, the other group completed their Track and Sign assessments. Everyone came back with a smile and a badge. The bar had been set for our group. 

Overall, this week proved challenging, but was a great lesson in how to adapt and overcome challenges. 

Bushwise offers a variety of learning opportunities, online and in the field. Visit our website to find a course that suits you.