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  • Writer's pictureBushwise Student

Starting the week off with a bang!

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

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

3 min read

I recently had the opportunity to be camp manager and it was not a normal week of game drives, it was our advanced rifle handling (ARH) assessment week.

A week of advanced rifle handling

Three rifles on a table, with bolts open. This is a safety procedure done between practice rounds, to ensure rifles are never left with ammo in them unless they are being handled safely.

The ARH includes five drills: the blindfold reloading test, five rounds in your own time, the speed and accuracy test, the two shooters test and then finally the charging lion test – don’t worry the lion wasn’t real. The drill that I was worried about the most was the charging lion just because it was the last drill, and anything could happen. (For context, the way the lion charge works: there’s a cardboard lion that moves quickly on a pulley towards you, which is activated by the assessor. The idea is to simulate a real lion charge, so we know how we would react under pressure.)

Before our ARH assessment day, we had plenty of time to practice our shooting. When assessment day arrived, I was a little nervous because of the last lion drill, but I knew I could shoot. With each drill we were all allowed two chances. I had managed to do all the other drills on the first try, but with the lion charge I used my second chance. As I shot, I didn’t know if I had gotten it in the correct area, but when I heard everyone else behind me cheering, I knew that I had hit the target. This meant that I had passed my ARH.

Earning my ARH certificate

A close up of the author, Jenna, holding a rifle while practicing advanced rifle handling exercises.

Having my ARH certificate means I am one step closer to being able to take guests through the bush on a guided walk, as well as log hours and encounters when we do the trails guiding course.

As the week came to an end so did the semester, which meant another off week. During this off week, I decided to go back home to Durban and visit my family. My mind was in bush mode the whole drive there and back which meant I was still identifying the different animals and birds as I drove.

Once we got back from off week, there was a new task set for us. This new task consisted of a bird slide and sound test. This means that we have to be able to determine a number of birds by their appearance and by their call. But just because we had to learn for a test didn’t mean that we had to sit in a class and study. We also learned out in the bush while on game drives, we call this our mobile classroom. It really does help to have a mobile classroom because it allows us to see and hear everything in real time.

Amazing sightings during big

A dark chanting goshawk sitting on the branch of a dead tree.

Although it was birding week, we did have some other cool sightings while we were out on game drive. On the one morning drive, Kyla and I saw the glimpse of a leopard that ran out of the road and into the nearby bushes. At first, I thought I saw a bird that had quickly flown away because all I saw was a black flash. When we went to investigate the area, there were some noticeable leopard tracks where it ran into the bushes. 

Later on in the day, while we were on our afternoon drive, we came across two lionesses that seemed to be on a mission. Part way through the drive we decided to have a little bit of fun and Wayne allowed me to drive with Sandra as my “copilot”. While I was driving, we came across a rather big spotted hyena who did not stick around for long as it carried on with its evening stroll. 

I would say my week as camp manager went rather well, there was a bit of studying involved but there was also lots of fun.

From birds to leopards, you’ll see it all as a field guide. Start your wild career with Bushwise – apply today.

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