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Email from the Road

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May 2012
Subject: Trapshooting in South Africa
From: Tim Bruggeman

ATA member and TRAP & FIELD subscriber Tim Bruggeman of Shawnee, Kan., e-mailed T&F to say hello and point out his Facebook page with news of shotgun competition in South Africa. Bruggeman is living there while working on a major project. We asked some questions which he kindly answered, and here is his E-mail from the Road. See T&F’s Facebook page for more of the photos he shared.

I am a mechanical engineer with Black & Veatch, a global engineering design firm based in Overland Park, Kan., which has a contract with the electricity utility over here in Eskom. We are doing some of the design, scheduling and construction management for a large coal power plant called Kusile, northwest of Johannesburg near the town of eMalahleni.

Now for shooting—you asked what kind of gun I use. It’s an oddball—a 1988 Antonio Zoli “Ritmo” unsingle combo.

All the shells I can get here on a regular basis are European imports. I use RC shells, but Gamebore, Kent, Eley, Hull, Saga, Sellier & Bellot and a number of other brands are available. Mostly I use 28-gram (1-ounce) shells because everything is fast, fast, fast, and I don’t like recoil. Even the 1-ounce shells over here recoil like 1 1/8-ounce shells from back home. A friend got hold of a few cases of Federal Top Gun 1-ounce 7 1/2s, and I bought up as many as I could. They used to have a local brand over here called Swartklip, but it’s not made any more. You even see a few Chinese Jialing hulls around from time to time. Shells are expensive; even budget shells are more costly than premium shells back home. Targets, too—on average I pay $7.50 a round. Some guys reload, but there is only one company here that sells powder; they don’t have much of a variety of types. And wads are hard to come by too.

All the clay targets are also European brands. Mostly LaPorte, but I saw some Piattello Sagittario targets the other day. In addition to ATA, they shoot a lot of the International games, which of course use a slightly different target than we do. But since the International targets will work for both, they standardize on the International target even for ATA and NSSA.

I’ve been over here since September 2010. I’m here with my wife, B. J. Trometer. Our daughter Anastasia is a college student back home, and as I write this, she is about to graduate from Kansas State. She goes by Tasia (rhymes with Asia). She shoots ATA too, and competed with their clay target club all five school years. We’ll be returning to Kansas for the graduation ceremony.

My wife really loves it here, so there is a good chance we’ll be over here a couple more years. She keeps busy with a lot of volunteer work at orphanages, township schools and crisis centers. There is a lot of need for that kind of thing over here.

Back in 2003 I saw a notice at the Powder Creek SP in Lenexa for the SCTP program, and I asked Tasia if she’d like to try it. She did, and she enjoyed it. I started to get interested in trap and was encouraged by my friends Al and Phil Gehrt to give it a try. I joined the ATA a few months after Tasia.

Weather here in Johannesburg is the best, year round, of any place I have lived. Johannesburg is about the same elevation as Denver. Winter climate is very dry, and it seldom gets below freezing, except on the coldest of mornings. Even then, it’ll get up into the mid 40s by afternoon.

Most trapfields here face south, which is the opposite of back home. That’s because the sun is at your back when you face south. It seems odd to me, having lived in the northern hemisphere all my life. In the southern hemisphere winter, the sun is in the northern part of the sky.

I don’t consider myself a great trapshooter, just a competent one who can break a good score now and then. I usually hover around Class A in singles, occasionally dropping into Class B, but never up as high as AA. I’ve only had one 100 straight, but I keep trying! I’ve never broken out of Class B in doubles, but I sure have fun when I shoot them. I have been as far back as the 25-yard line in handicap, but didn’t stay there long. With the recent two-yard reduction, I’m back to 22, and that’s where I will shoot from when I return home.

I shoot mostly in the Kansas City area at my home club, Powder Creek, and at KCTA in Smithville, Mo., where Lynn Gipson used to manage before he became ATA Executive Director. I try to make it to the Kansas State Shoot every year. I’ve never been to the Grand, but that’s on my list of things to do when I get back home. All my South African trapshooting friends say, “You live so close! Why on earth have you never been to the Grand?” It’s a fair question, and one I don’t have a good answer for.

For what it’s worth, I am the 2012 South Africa Grand Handicap champion. That honor would hold a lot more weight if it were back in the U.S., but I’m going to get as much mileage out of it as I can! The governing body (Clay Target Shooting Association of South Africa) doesn't recognize handicap as an official championship event because almost nobody shoots it here. The club where the SA Grand was held this year is one of the few that even have handicap pads. A few months ago I was talking with a CTSASA director for one of the provinces, bemoaning the fact that nobody here shoots handicap. He said people used to, but they lost interest since only a few clubs had long-yardage pads. He said he would see what he could do, and voila, they added an “exhibition” handicap event. There were only nine entries and for the sake of simplicity, it was all shot at 27 yards. I broke 41x50, and the next-best score was a 34. In my defense, all the guys I competed against are really good shooters.

I have found the South African clay target shooters to be an incredibly great bunch of people. They have welcomed me into their shooting community as if I were a fellow South African. I have made some good friends here, and many of the folks I shoot with have traveled to the U.S. to shoot the Grand, in both Vandalia and Sparta.

I’ve kind of become their “mule” when I go back to visit the States. Anytime I mention a trip to the U.S., I get a lot of “Hey, can you bring me back [fill in the blank] from Cabela’s, MidwayUSA, Brownells, etc.?” Often, it’s repair parts for reloaders they’ve been using for years. I don’t mind doing it. They just don’t have access to many of the stores and services we take for granted in the U.S.

Most of the guns here are Berettas and Perazzis, but there are also a lot of Mirokus and some Brownings. Seldom do you see any of the other American brands or Krieghoffs. Single-barrel guns are quite rare; my unsingle combo was quite a novelty at first. Since most who shoot ATA also shoot DTL (Down the Line), which allows two shots, nearly all guns used are over/unders. There are very few semi-autos, and pump guns are almost unheard of.

I plan to travel around the country and participate in as many of the Provincial shoots as I can this year. I’m really looking forward to competing at the Western Cape Provincial at Valley Gun Club in Cape Town. Cape Town is a great tourist spot, and I’ll go shoot while my wife goes to the beach, shopping, or wine-tasting.

You asked me if South African trapshooters whine over missed targets. Well, they wouldn’t be trapshooters if they didn’t whine about missed targets, would they?! We could really use Frank Hoppe, Phil Kiner, Harlan or Leo to come over and do a clinic. See what you can do about that, will you?

 All the best,

Tim

 

The Limpopo squad that captured the ATA Provincial Team Silver Medal: Nathan Nieuwoudt, Peter Nieuwoudt, Tim Bruggeman, Howard Pennells (not shown: Don Schoemann), along with CTSASA Executive Officer Sarah Kalell.

 

 

 

 

 

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