Rifle Lessons Learned from the Zimbabwe Professional Hunter Proficiency Exam

John338

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Really interesting article and for me as an African hunter wannabe it has really validated my decision to bite the bullet and sell a heap of my hunting rifles and gear to buy a Rigby double square bridge in .416 Rigby for my African dangerous game hunt. It is a buttery smooth action that I have been using on all our big game here in New Zealand prior to my trip in 2020. Gets a bit heavy in the Southern Alps chasing Himalayan Thar and Chamois but is going to be worth it in the heat of Africa!
 

Tokoloshe Safaris

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Lon like normal I’m a little confused. Are you saying each applicant fires 700 rounds at 20 each for a total of 14000 US?
No, that would be the combined number of cartridges fired for those who took the school the week before the test and for those who actually took the test based on 32 shooters. It actually turned out that none of the candidates who took the school took the test, strange. The actual number of candidates who took the test was 15. Based on the going cost of ammunition in Zimbabwe which is about $20.00 per round each candidate spent about $400.00 or a total of $6,000.00. I do not want to get into politics, but the reason the cost is so high is the Firearms embargo on Zimbabwe by the western world, which has little effect on the military and police since they procure their weapons and ammunition from the east! Here it is whatever you can procure. Practice ammunition .22 long rifle for my wife set me back $65.00 a box, box not brick (50 rds.).

Sorry if I created any confusion, I do not do well with a cell phone and e-mails!
 

Tokoloshe Safaris

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Lon, please convey my congratulations to your wife. For the uninitiated what are / is the course(s) of fire involved in this Certification Test?
Some time ago I posted what the test consisted of it is a bit lengthy. I will try to post it again if I can find the correct format. Let me say this, it is meant to put the candidate under as much pressure as possible. It is shooting score divided by recorded time. A perfect score on shooting is very feasible, but the running time (as a boy I was taught not to run with a loaded rifle) plus the reloading time is just as much or more important, than all bulls. Ten points are deducted for using less than .40 calibre. My wife used her .375 H&H M-70 and took the test several times and would have passed it time (except for the one time where she broke her ankle) except for the ten point deduction! This time she used her .404J and passed! She shot her 75 meter target from the prone position! I believe a young very fast runner could pass the test with a double rifle and a perfect score. This would compensate for the two reloads instead of one reload on two of the five courses.

I designed a pouch (very simple) where the cartridges lay on a double folded piece of heavy leather like the letter M, horizontal pointing forward, one to five rounds can be quickly scooped up and loaded into the magazine, the scoop up of all five cartridges takes no longer than pulling one round out a belt, if one or more rounds are dropped then she goes to the belt loop for additional cartridges.
 

Tokoloshe Safaris

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Lon, please convey my congratulations to your wife. For the uninitiated what are / is the course(s) of fire involved in this Certification Test?
Thank You, I will
 

Tokoloshe Safaris

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Question Lon, did you assess what caused the malfunction on your wife CZ. Seems that there are only four possible reasons for a box magazine to bow: misplaced box during reassembly - it happens; fiercely over tightened action screws; wood having progressively shrunk to the point where normal torque on the action screws bends the box; or wood swelling and compressing the box. Maybe I am missing some other potential reasons, but it would be really interesting to know...
Thanks
Pascal
Hi Pascal, at this point I am not sure. First the action was professionally glass bedded, the screws were properly torqued. I have quite a collection of new and used spare Mauser, CZ & M-70 parts at one point I went to a follower that was slightly longer than the one that was original to the rifle. The crazy part is hundreds of rounds were cycled through the action after that, up until two days before the test. The barrelled action has not been removed from the stock in several months. Here is what has happened, the wood blank came from a area with very low humidity, we live on the banks of the Zambezi very humid. Then we have had lots of rain recently. The rifle was in a soft gun case for the two day trip to Harare. Stowed in a hidden compartment, inside the vehicle for the trip. I believed this caused a very high humidity condition that led to the slightest bit of swelling of the wood, which put just enough pressure on the magazine box, little more than six months ago this stock was a wood blank!
Somewhere I read how long it should take to make a rifle stock it seemed to me it was something like a year. This is due to the fact that the wood changes as it is worked. Maybe someone out there can enlighten me or us?
At this point I am only half way home later this week I will disassemble the rifle and examine everything very closely.
 

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Tokoloshe, please if possible see if someone can do some videos or Go Pro videos for us to see how this format is being shot ?????The different scenarios and targets???

Hi, Needless to say, we were a bit busy and stressed on Sunday and I am not much of a camera man. I will see what I can do to get a pro to film one or more candidates going through the complete course. This may be a bit difficult due to range safety rules, which only allow the timer and the candidate on the course during the test. Possibly I can make arrangements where the day before the test a video can be made where the timer and the candidate are on the course followed by a camera man (or woman got to be politically correct) and a second range master (gender neutral). Ha, Ha,. Seriously if done properly it could be turned into a very good training film.

Please do not hold your breath, Africa moves slow!

Cheers, Lon
 

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How long does it take for a PH to break even on 14k? I had a PH sub that told me he made $100 a day! I guess it's like flying, you have to love it.
Hi Hogpatrol,

At the moment most Zimbabwe PHs earn $150.00 a day, plus another $50.00 if they supply their own vehicle. Keep in mind the cost of a new Land cruiser is in excess of $60,000.00. You have to love what your doing and be a bit nuts!

As I posted elsewhere, probably I did not make it clear the 14k cost for ammo was based on 32 candidates taking the course. Actual cost of ammo per candidate was probably around $400.00 @ $20.00 per round!
 

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Question Lon, did you assess what caused the malfunction on your wife CZ. Seems that there are only four possible reasons for a box magazine to bow: misplaced box during reassembly - it happens; fiercely over tightened action screws; wood having progressively shrunk to the point where normal torque on the action screws bends the box; or wood swelling and compressing the box. Maybe I am missing some other potential reasons, but it would be really interesting to know...
Thanks
Pascal
I saw a bowed mag box on my brothers 416 rigby /CZ 550.We found it at the guides shooting exam 2 years ago. A friend of his had the same gun and we swopped parts until it we saw the sides of the box bowed in. My brother just bent it with his hands. The symptoms were that the second/third rounds came out with the ejection of the first. Interestingly, 2 years later, it is bowed again. We believe it is recoil that does it.
 

Von Gruff

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This problem certainly shows the wisdom of the early Jeffery approach where the mag well is thicker and there are no steel
mag sides to bend.
P1030828_zps232dcc3f.jpg
 

BRICKBURN

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How can the magazine "box" be impacted so much by recoil that it bends?
One of you gunsmith wizards help educate me here please.
 

BeeMaa

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Really interesting article and for me as an African hunter wannabe it has really validated my decision to bite the bullet and sell a heap of my hunting rifles and gear to buy a Rigby double square bridge in .416 Rigby for my African dangerous game hunt. It is a buttery smooth action that I have been using on all our big game here in New Zealand prior to my trip in 2020. Gets a bit heavy in the Southern Alps chasing Himalayan Thar and Chamois but is going to be worth it in the heat of Africa!
Pics or it didn't happen...(y)
Seriously, I think I speak for everyone here when I say we would like to see a few pictures.
 

Jeffrey

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Here are pictures of the 2017 Rifa Course, NOT the actual exam:
http://zphga.org/2017-rifa-course/

Lon,
I take it hand loads aren't allowed? Does ZPHGA or Norma (a ZPHGA sponsor) provide factory ammo? Yes, a description of the course of fire would be really cool. I take it with ammo prices like that, not many learners can afford proper practice, much less something like this:
http://www.safarishootingschool.com/rates.html

$65 for 50 rounds of .22lr? o_O Seems like prices like that would encourage ammo smuggling... :whistle:
 

Sabattiboy

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It is good to read information from other sources as I've read various stories about 458 Win problems and poor old Roy Weatherby was stuck with IMR 4350 as the slowest powder available so his avg 57k CUP stuck cases. I never heard about 460 extraction problems just the 120ft lbs of recoil.
I've read early 458 ammo had steel jacketed bullets insufficiently copper clad and would shoot out a bbl in a few hundred rounds. The idea that newer powders have been around for decades seldom gets mentioned.
A fellow shooter at my club had a custom rifle chambered in 300 Weatherby and was going on a New Mexico hunt. He was having trouble chambering some factory rounds and sometimes would jam feeding from the magazine. I believe the headspace was on the minimum side so referred him to a gunsmith I knew. The smith didn't even look at it just said above 70 degrees Weatherby cartridges have trouble with the bolt. On closing? I suggested he pick the cartridges that the bolt will close on to hunt with.
Finn Aggarrd (SIC) used an M70 458 win as his favorite PH rifle but had to bed it and add cross bolts to the stock. Capstick wrote of having a 458 cartridge go off as a squib on an elephant cull and reasoned that it was the bottom cartridge in the mag and had other shells loaded on top until he finally needed it thus the bullet must have been hammered in the case from all the recoil pulses. It was not something proven.
It is commonly written or said that one is endangering their life to hunt DG with a push feed bolt. I wonder just how many times that issue has endangered a hunter.
Yes, we carry DR so we have two complete rifles in one. Someone built a bolt DR rifle and it can be seen being fired on youtube. :)
I am totally in agreement with shooting the piss out of a DG rifle to be assured it and the selected ammo are reliable. If necessary put the shells in a hot car to see if African heat is going to be a problem.
One other thing; if money is short for a quality rifle then arrange to rent one from the PH. It is not likely they will rent out a malfunctioning rifle.
 

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Philip, do you still have the 416 for sale?
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Nice “meeting” you Rick. I made my first trip to S. Africa this year through Kuche Safaris. We had an incredible time. What outfitter do you use? Neal
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