Watch Me

The first head of African game I shot was a springbok. Professional hunter (PH) Naftali Amvolongo and I stalked to within about 60 yards, and I shot from the sitting position. I lost the scope image for an instant as the rifle recoiled but with my left eye I saw it fall in its tracks. As we got up to it I made some remark about how quickly the springbok had dropped at the shot.

Naftali just smiled. “I wasn’t watching the springbok. I was watching you. You kept both eyes open when you shot. You reloaded right away, ready to shoot again if you had to. You hit him (he indicated the bullet strike on the shoulder) right where I wanted. I’m very happy.”

On a guided hunt the first shots you fire will not be at game but at a target. The ostensible reason — and it is important — is to ensure the rifles are sighted in. There is another reason, just as important to the outfitter and guide. They want to see if you can handle a rifle safely and get a sense of how well you handle and shoot it. They might not be blatantly obvious about it but they are watching closely from the time you open the rifle case.