SHOOTING IN THE NATAL CARBINEERS
“No enemy was ever killed by a football, tennis racquet, rugby ball, fishing rod, etc, but by a trained marksman using an efficient weapon.” Whilst it is no man’s wish to be faced with the necessity to kill another in war, strength and skill are the finest deterrents of conflict. “If you want peace – prepare for war.” ~ attributed to Julius Caesar although no one is absolutely certain of the exact origin of the statement.
The art of soldiering is based on three skills. Musketry, Field craft and Fitness.
The Natal Carbineers have shown themselves to be more than capable in these three facets in both war and peace. Since the inception of the Regiment, Carbineers have proven themselves in all skill at arms competitions, and target shooting, in particular.
The Regiment’s amazing collection of silver plate bares witness to this. Many of the pieces are trophies won by teams and individuals dating back to the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
In 1903, Emma Thresh donated a magnificent trophy made of 16kgs of silver. The competition for this trophy has always been keen amongst the colonial, later citizen force now Conventional Reserve Regiments in KwaZulu Natal. The first team to win this trophy was that of the Natal Carbineers. In 1905, a magnificent copper, silver and wood shield commemorating the service of Colonel Royston, was introduced as a second competition amongst the same regiments. The Carbineers were again victorious. No Regiment has won these trophies more often than the Carbineers and, since World War II, neither has been out of the Regiment’s trophy cabinet more than four times.
The other major team shooting competition is the Gold Cup. This trophy is made of solid 18 carat gold and stands about 450mm high. It was donated by the gold mining industry in 1922. The trophy is for competition amongst the same volunteer corps, now the Conventional Reserve Regiments, throughout South Africa. The competition has been fired 65 times since it’s inception (allowing for gaps during WWII and a period in the 1970s and 80s when the competition was allowed to lapse). During this time, the Carbineers, the current holders, have been winners on fifteen occasions. Their next nearest rivals being the RLI with eight wins.
Over the years, members of the Regiment have excelled as many individuals and the Regiment have achieved recognition by the award of National and Provincial Colours. Ronnie Smith and the Late Roy Campbell were among the Springboks in the 1950s and 60s. More recently, Archie Smythe and Rob Fortmann have represented South Africa in the 1990s and Archie (South African Combat Rifle Champion in 2001) is the current Protea Combat Rifle Team Captain. In 1999, Leigh Fortmann (Mrs) was placed second amongst the ladies and at the 2000 SA Champs, she was crowned SA Champion Lady. Those who have earned provincial colours are too many to list.
The Regiment has always had a definite development policy and has insisted on the inclusion of youth in its teams. This has ensured continuity and growth in the sport. The Carbineers currently field 25 regular Combat Rifle competitors of whom, five are ladies, four are black and four are under the age of 23. The late Sergeant Ephraim Mlaba was a product of the Regiment’s development programme and he achieved a gold medal in National Competition as well as twice being selected to represent the South African National Defence Force’s Reserve Force Team at the British Army’s Skill at Arms competition in the UK. Dolly Mncwabe and Steven Msibi earned their Provincial Development Colours at this years National Champs and Dolly earned the first leg of her Provincial B Colours at the 2005 Natal Combat Rifle Champs held in Ladysmith.
The Regiment’s current team of four, the Carbineer Blue Team, are regular prize winners at league and provincial shoots and have twice been SA Champion team for all arms of service (SAPS, Correctional Services and the entire SANDF) in recent years. They finished second by a scant 3 points in 1000 at the SA Combat Rifle Champs held in Cape Town, earlier this year.
All Shooters are volunteers and take part in training and competition in their own time and at their own expense. This core are dedicated to the Carbineers and provide musketry training to the rest of the Regiment and members of other units over and above their normal commitment to Regimental activities.
Competitions and practices take place at Merrivale, Estcourt, Pongola, Ladysmith, Utrecht, Bloemfontein, Heidelberg, Potchefstroom and Secunda. This year, the squad went to Cape Town as well. In an average year, each committed shooter will give up about 85 days, travel over 17000 km in their private vehicles, and spend about R18000.00 without much financial reimbursement other than about 20 days of military pay of rank per year. They are truly volunteers and are the vital and strong nucleus of any Reserve Force Regiment.
The Current Gold Cup Champion Team taken at the finals in Bloemfontein earlier this year.
They are: (Left to Right) Rfn Leigh Fortmann, Cpl Arnold Fortmann, Rfn Andrew Richards, RSM Nic Cloete, Maj John Hall, Sgt Maj Norman Sander, Rfn Craig Alberts, Sgt Rob Fortmann, Lt Col Ken Lowe and Sgt Maj Archie Smythe.
The Natal Christmas Shoot was held on 21 November 2009 at Merrivale and was very well attended with some 59 Shottists on the Range. Cpl Arnold Fortmann won the shoot with WO2 Archie Smythe 2nd. Wo2 Archie Smythe won the Veterans Category with Sgt Gill Sage winning the Ladies Category and Rifleman MT Nhlapo 3rd in the Development Category.
|2 – 7||SACRA NATIONALS||GEN DE WET|
|18||NATAL CLOSED & AGM||MERRIVALE|
|19 & 20||GRIQUAS||KIMBERLEY|
|16 & 17||NORTH WEST||POTCHEFSTROOM|
|21 & 22||NATAL CHAMPS||WAGONHILL|
|10||GOLD CUP, THRASH ETC||MERRIVALE|