We don’t want to be unnecessarily alarmist, but organised crime, murder and kidnappings are soaring in SA. According to a report by Geneva-based Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, this is posing an “existential” threat to South Africa. The murder rate has risen 38% since 2010 and the number of kidnappings for ransom has quadrupled.
“South Africa faces a complex, hybrid criminal threat,” their report states. There’s been a surge in vigilante killings and cash-in-transit robberies. An average of 67 people are murdered in South Africa every day. And as worrying, in the first six months of 2022, there have been on average 1 143 kidnappings a month. That’s double the monthly average of 2021. The first six months of 2022 are already 60% higher than the number reported for the whole of 2019, according to a report in the Mail & Guardian.
“The number of murders in this country remains high and worrisome. 6 424 people were killed in the country in the first quarter of the 2022/2023 financial year. This is an increase of 664 more people murdered, compared to the same period last year during lockdown level one and two,” said Minister of Police Bheki Cele in August.
So, this is the time to be prepared by arming yourself, as well as learning and practising self-defence skills. You can be the William Tell of firearms by never missing a target – but fact of the matter is that shooting is a skill that perishes with time. At Marksman’s Nest our mantra is practice, practice and practice some more. The more, the merrier.
Practice makes perfect
Just like athletes practice their skills religiously, it’s recommended that to gain complete command of skill, gun carriers should practice regularly. We all have full-time jobs, but ideally, we advise visiting a shooting range twice a week or so.
There are no two ways about it: a shooting range is the best and safest way to practice and brush up shooting and self-defence skills. This applies to carriers, law enforcement personnel and military individuals. It’s a safe, controlled environment and protects you from external interferences.
How much time you spend practicing at the range will ultimately pay off in your competence with the weapon and using it effectively when required. It’s essential to practice the rounds, shooting distance and managing the bullet’s arc movement.
Law enforcement personnel should spend large fractions of their time at a shooting range to experience shooting amid the weather elements. The more you practice, the better your chances of surviving a lethal confrontation or shootout.
Becoming adept at shooting is a confidence booster bar none. Not only will muscle memory kick in at a time when you need it most, but you’ll be cool, calm and collected. That’s what being a pro is all about.
What’s more, having high self-esteem will have a spin-off on your work, relationships and interaction with stress.
Take note that murder and kidnappings are soaring in SA. So practise your shooting and self-defence skills regularly. Thus you’ll develop a high level of self-discipline and goal setting.
Hijackings are on the increase in SA, according to the latest SAPS statistics. With these alarming figures, it’s all the more reason to learn the necessary self-defence skills. At Marksman’s Nest, level 3 self-defence course now incorporates anti-hijacking tactics. But the range also presents anti-hijacking skills as a standalone course.
Between April and June 2022 hijackings were up 14% on the same period in 2021 – with 5 866 incidences reported across South Africa. Quarter-on-quarter, hijackings climbed 8.6% from 5,402 recorded cases in Q4 2021/2022.
According to insurer Dialdirect, hijackers operate according to their clients’ shopping list of make, model, how many and by when needed. As a result, hijackers target high traffic areas which pose the least risk for themselves.
The insurer indicated that shopping malls were favoured to identify possible victims. From here, hijackers would follow a target at a distance and usually strike at a traffic light. One tactic is to bump into a victim’s car, so that he/she would exit the vehicle.
Other preferred spots include residential driveways where hijackers typically box in a victim before the access gate is completely open.
Dialdirect said typical hijacking methods included the imposter method where hijackers pose as officials to get people to pull over, or grant access to their properties. Then there’s also the Good Samaritan method whereby they convince targets that something is wrong with their vehicle. Other methods are:
- The test drive method – posing as a potential vehicle buyer
- Bumper bashing – to fake an accident
- The breakdown method – getting victims to pull over or slow down to drive around them
- The slow-moving traffic method – staking out a spot where traffic is moving slowly or following a target at a distance, later moving closer and striking at a traffic light.
Covering typical scenarios
Geoffrey Coetzee, Marksman’s Nest chief ranger, said the range tried to cover all scenarios in the anti-hijacking module. “The key is being alert, being aware of your surroundings, knowing who’s behind you, not getting distracted and stopping smart. Also, don’t forget to keep your valuables out of sight to prevent ‘window shopping’.
So, knowing that hijackings are on the increase in SA, it’s imperative to be a smart citizen to equip yourself with the necessary skills.
All of us at Marksman’s would like to say: welcome to our latest female firearm instructor – Miena Visser.
Earning her stripes as firearm instructor with aplomb on 18 August, this has been a two-year journey in which Miena completed all the skills builder courses at Marksman’s Nest. In addition, she passed all three levels of self-defence training, the anti-hijacking course, firearms for business purposes, as well as the range officer course.
A passion for teaching
“I’ve been helping out as range officer at both the Malmesbury and Velddrif shooting ranges and I must say, it’s right up my alley. Especially interesting was that I noticed many of the female range visitors experienced the same problems that I did initially. They owned a gun, or wanted to buy a gun, but felt intimidated using it. Also, they didn’t have a clue about gun maintenance, assembly and disassembly.”
Miena, who holds a BSc in mathematics, explained that she’d been interested in teaching all her life. “When I was about to embark on a teacher’s diploma course, my husband was transferred to Italy. So, bye-bye teaching.
“However, as a firearm instructor at Marksman’s Nest, I can now realise my teaching dream. What’s more, I can indulge my passion for shooting and self-defence.”
The gun training imperative
Like many other firearm owners, Miena thought that it was a matter of point-and-shoot after she bought her gun and passed the competency test. That was about 15 years ago.
She soon realised that gun training, and more specifically self-defence training, was essential. After shooting at a Hopefield range for a number of years, she finally decided to enrol at Marksman’s Nest in 2020. “That was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Training with Geoffrey Coetzee and his team gave me the empowerment I craved.”
And right now, Miena is ready to take on the world, making a difference in the lives of those who want this same empowerment. “Having empowerment means being confident with your firearm, as well as in all compromised situations. And this is what the skills builder and self-defence courses at Marksman’s Nest are all about,” she said.
“You’ll learn how and when to use your handgun, plus how to be alert and aware at all times. Then there are the training modules focusing on handgun maintenance, improving your grip, stance and aim.”
Chief range officer Geoffrey Coetzee was effusive in his praise for Miena. “She was committed. She persevered. And she succeeded. So, once again, ‘welcome to our latest female firearm instructor’. And may she be followed by many more female firearm instructors that we hope to see on the range.”
It’s a no-brainer that mental discipline is key to self-defence. Even if you’re known to be mentally strong, the sort of mental discipline required for self-defence comes from training, and training alone.
With good training, such as the self-defence courses offered by Marksman’s Nest, you’ll find that the art of defending yourself becomes 95% mental and only about 5% physical. No one should ever carry a handgun for self-defence without the best training they can get.
Knowledge & mindset
“Mental preparedness starts with knowing how to use your handgun for protective purposes. Secondly knowing under which circumstances it’s legal to use a deadly weapon, followed closely by gun safety practices as a responsible gun owner. On that note, there’s no such thing as an accidental gun discharge – only negligent ones,” said chief ranger Geoffrey Coetzee.
The right mindset is the mainstay of self-defence training and being a responsible gun owner. Therefore, good judgment is paramount in any confrontation situation.
Discipline & confidence
On your self-defence training journey, your mantra will be discipline and confidence. Discipline will help you keep your cool and composure in the most stressful situations. And confidence will give you the self-belief that you can deal with any scenario life throws at you.
The great news is that these mental attributes strengthen along with your muscle memory during self-defence training. “The longer and harder you train, the more effective you’ll become physically and mentally, Geoffrey said.
Finally, with sufficient training, you’ll notch up Experience with a capital E. Unfortunately, none of us know what the future holds. But when you have the experience gained by dedicated self-defence training, it certainly will stand you in good stead.
So train hard and remember that mental discipline is key to self-defence. Good luck with your self-defence training journey.
With Women’s Day and month upon us, we’d like to outline why women should learn to shoot.
The number of gun-owning women has been rising dramatically over the past decade and they all have one thing in common: empowerment! Many of these women cite personal protection for themselves and their families as the number one reason for learning to shoot. And the second reason is the sense of confidence it provides. A lesser, although not unimportant, reason is the great camaraderie on the shooting range.
Don’t be an easy target
Marksman’s Nest has trained many women to shoot, defend themselves in close quarters and conceal carry.
It’s a matter of watching the news to see how many women in South Africa are targets for attacks, robberies and murder daily. So, let’s not pussyfoot around. Owning a gun and being proficient in using it when the need arises is simply beyond liberating. It can save your life and the lives of your family.
Women who’ve decided enough is enough are choosing to take classes, gain confidence, and feel more empowered and ready to protect themselves and their families. It’s not only a matter of knowing the how-to’s of guns, you need to feel confident about loading, unloading, drawing from a holster safely and maintaining situational awareness. Only hands-on practice under the guidance of a qualified instructor can give you this ability.
The mental preparedness through self-defence scenarios is equally important. Plus you need to know and understand the laws applicable to using a firearm for personal protection.
Apart from the serious side, shooting with others is a bunch of fun. Even better is when you start challenging one another to practise and improve. So much better than sitting and watching soapies for sure.
Now you know why women should learn to shoot. So, whether you’re 18 to 80, now is the time to enroll for firearm training. The atmosphere is supportive and a true sisterhood prevails.
Legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley had an unshakable belief in women’s ability to defend themselves. Do her proud and enrol at Marksman’s Nest today.