Safari 2014: The Caprvi Strip / Update 07/28/2014 Rifle Practice

by david on July 27, 2014

After all of the twists, turns, and other distractions of the last few weeks, I am finally back on track with some useful information about going to Africa.  As you may suspect, marksmanship plays an important part in the success of any hunt.  It is especially important in a dangerous game hunt, where a botched hunt can lead to someone getting killed or severely injured.  This week, I would like to let you in on my practice routine.

As usual, I started practice with the .22 I had built to match my safari rifles.  I shot at some paper, balloons, plastic bottles, and just about any other target that caught my attention.  At first I shot using my shooting sticks, working on form: keeping both eyes open until I had the target in sight through the scope, proper cheek weld, breathing, trigger pull, working the bolt and chambering another round without lowering the rifle, all the things I need to be able to do on a hunt.  After I was comfortable shooting from the sticks, I started practicing other shooting positions: sitting, kneeling and, most importantly, off hand.  Off hand is going to be important this time as it will be how I take my elephant, and I want to be extremely comfortable and proficient shooting this way.  After over half a dozen practice sessions and approximately 50 five-round clips worth of ammunition, I was confident enough to break out the heavy rifles.

I normally start with the 9.3×62 Mauser, but since the .416 Rigby is going to be my primary hunting tool this trip, I skipped ahead to it.  I already knew from talking to my PH that I would be ± 20 yards from the elephant when I take my shot, thus 20 yards became my primary practice distance.  Right off the bat, I discovered my 1.5×5 scope was going to be more of a hindrance than a help.  No matter.  It has quick release mounts and after a few twists it was happily in my back pocket and I was using the iron sights.  After several misses, I discovered I was shooting too high due to the shortened distance from the 100-yard range indicated for the first notch in the rear sight.  I knew I had to replace the front sight with a taller one so I zipped the rifle back in the case and spent the rest of the session with my 9.3, happily breaking 6” balloons from 100 yards.

When I got back to the house, I sent my go-to person at CZ USA, Jason Morton, an e-mail asking if CZ had any off-the-shelf replacement sights, or if he could recommend another source for replacement sights.  He was his usual efficient self and I had an answer later that afternoon.  He suggested New England Custom Gun and even provided me a link to the product he was recommending and another to chart explaining how to calculate the difference in front sight height to move the bullet’s point of impact the desired amount.  Talk about exceptional service.  Service at that level is not really a surprise to me as I have found it the norm with Jason and CZ rather than the exception.

After I picked out a new front sight, I looked around the NECG’s website and discovered they made a rear peep sight specifically for my CZ Safari Classic.  It was adjustable so I decided to order one of those as well.  Boy, am I glad I did.  Before I can explain why, I have to explain something about the CZ rifle.  On the top of the receiver there is a notch for a tab on the quick-release scope base to fit into.  This notch insures the scope goes back to the same spot every time and the rifle scope stays “zeroed” on target, no matter how many times it comes on and off.  This system works extremely well and I have never had it fail.  Imagine my delight when I discovered NECG had made the same tab onto the peep sight.  This would allow me to switch back and forth between the scope and peep sight at will, without worrying about the point of impact changing.  Pretty dang cool, if you ask me.  Another neat thing about the peep sight was its size covers the “hood” over the front sight perfectly when the rifle is lined up correctly.  When the hood is obscured by the peep, the rifle is aligned correctly.  Since your eye will automatically center the front dot in the center of the peep, “al-a-kazam”, you are right on target and ready to pull the trigger.  I should also mention the original sight was easy to remove and it took minimal filing for the new one to slide in its place.  All in all, the whole sight-changing process was easy and went smoothly. I was most pleased.  If it shot as well as it fit, I’d be ecstatic.

It was a few days before I had a chance to get back to my range and I was chomping at the bit to do some shooting.  I stuck up a paper target and the first bullet landed dead center but 1-inch high.  I adjusted my hold and the next two were in the center ring of the bull.  Now, for the true test.  Could I shoulder the rifle, get on target, and hit the target consistently in ± 3 seconds?  Some balloons would soon answer that question.  After a few minutes spent blowing up balloons and placing them on my back stop, I was ready to find out.  I stood at my 20-yard marker, placed the rifle at port of arms, picked out a balloon, released the safety, took a deep breath, mounted the rifle, found the target, squeezed the trigger, and watched the balloon break.  It was great!  Two more times I worked the action, brought the rifle to my shoulder, and broke a balloon.  I finally missed on balloon #14.  All of my shots had been accomplished in my three-second time frame. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Over the next few weeks, I have sent well over a hundred round each of 9.3 and .416 down range and have decimated the local balloon population.  I feel completely comfortable with the rifles and as long as I am shooting at balloons in Africa I should have no problem filling my bag.  Hopefully I will be able to walk up to better than five tons of animal and picture a balloon instead of an elephant.  Wish me luck.

Next week is the last blog entry before I leave.  I will probably go over all of the stuff you don’t think about until it is too late.  If anyone has some other interest, just let me know.


For a you tube video of a practice session go to


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