Dry run of the ‘lion charge’

17th December 2013

Wednesday 11th December 2013

After yesterday’s rifle drill dry runs we headed down to the make shift range in ‘Secret Valley’ to do it for real. The targets were set up at 15m, 10m and 5m which doesn’t sound far but when the adrenalin is pumping it could easily be a 150m, 100m and 50m.

Up until now we’d been shooting a .375 but today we went up to a .458 and the anticipation of the recoil was huge and it didn’t let down. I can’t really remember where my first three rounds landed, the rifle slamming into my shoulder and also jamming my finger was a distraction but all three hit the 15m target to a certain degree.

The next drill was to hit all three targets in succession starting at 15m. My aim was better with bull, almost bull and bull. Here I was better when I went at speed and didn’t think about it.

The sheer power of the rifle is simply frightening and seeing the destruction of the trees behind the targets was sobering. I’m still not at ease with the rifle but I think that means I’m giving it a healthy respect.

In the afternoon it was dry drills once again to develop muscle memory and then out into the riverbed for a dry run of the ‘lion charge’.

When you first see the ‘lion charge’ machine you could be forgiven for laughing at the lack of realism but I can assure you that when you’re on the receiving end its anything but funny.

In real life a lion charges at 22.2m per second, that’s 80 kph and there’s a good chance that it would be more than one lion coming at you. If it wasn’t nerve racking enough the idea is to wait until the lion is within 10m of you, ideally at 5m so that you give it the opportunity to stop, you give it the benefit of the doubt.

You only get the chance to fire one shot during the charge, missing is not an option.

In the drill the lion comes at 10m per second, less than half the speed of the real thing. When the drill happens its like nothing else exists, you have no idea what you’re shouting or doing, its all a blur. Afterwards you know you’ve made mistakes but you don’t know what.

There’s a lot of time for practice between now and the real fake thing on Friday, this is good given my disastrous first attempt. Falling over is not good but getting up and carrying on is, as does hitting with your first shot which hopefully I did. Cue the embarrassing video….

Instructor Geoff reassured me that all was not lost, he was charged by two lions and survived despite falling over with the recoil of the rifle.
Appropriately I fell to sleep listening to the roar of a lion across the river bed.

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