Hi there TFB readers. I am back from my vacation in Southern Africa. I would not say I am well rested, it was not that sort of vacation, but I do feel invigorated. I love Africa, having lived there for a number of years, and going back is a special treat. I am going to avoid the temptation to turn TFB into a travel blog and bore y’all with my travel photos and adventures, but I will share a few gun-related encounters.
These two men look like militiamen but they are in fact regular Zambian policemen. I approached the young man (on the right) who held the rank of Constable, who I guessed was around 17 years old, and asked him if I could get a photo. I was hoping to get some close up photos of his very old beat-up AKMS rifle. Unfortunately I did not notice his boss, an Inspector, sitting under a tree in the shade across the road. The constable was very enthusiastic about getting his photo taken, I must have inadvertently paid him a compliment, but after taking a few moments to look back and forth between me and the Inspector he decided that he better get permission first.
The Inspector was not a green teenager and was very suspicious. He launched into an interrogation, probably trying to determine if I was a Western journalist. After a check of my passport followed by countless questions about my reasons for being in the country and my profession (I answered the latter questions with very vague descriptions of what I for a living) he finally consented to a photo.
Just down the road from those two cops I ran into a tried, hot and sweaty AK-toting police sergeant who discovered that my papers were not in order (thanks to an incompetent Zambian immigration official). I dreaded the the idea of being dragged to a Zambian immigration office in the midday heat and tried to convince him that it was not my fault. I don’t think he bought my argument, but fortunately for me he seemed just as enthusiastic about hauling me off to at lunch time as I was about being hauled, which is to say not at all. He instead decided to compromise by ensuring I crossed the boarder into Zimbabwe, which was fine with me since I was heading there anyway. These errors then caused some delays in Zimbabwe when a immigration officer happened to pick up on them.
Gun-wise Zimbabwe was uneventful. I noticed some interesting ancient revolvers in holsters of security forces, but not in situations where I felt motivated to ask for a photo. After Zimbabwe I continued south to South Africa.
When I reached Cape Town I was determined to visit a South African gun store. Google was not very helpful, leading me to stores that had closed or moved without updating their address online. After wasting half a day trying to find one I gave up. Luckily I found one of the nicest gun shops I have ever had the pleasure of visiting when I visited the famous wine-producing town of Stellenbosch (Do you remember the vineyard scene in the movie Blood Diamond? That was set in Stellenbosch).
Safari & Outdoor has an African hunting lodge theme going. It was all wood panelling, animal trophy heads, leather couches and even a coffee making barista! Men and boys were sitting around on couches drinking coffee and reading gun magazines. Genius.
Later that day a retired Colonel and a group of locals took me shooting at one of the many vineyards that surround Stellenbosch. My terrible camera phone photos do not do this beautiful part of the world justice
We shot a number of rifles and pistols ranging from .22 to .300 H&H. Nobody owned semi-automatic rifles and I do not recall seeing any at the gun shop, although I did seem them advertised in a South African gun magazine. I meant to ask the locals why they did not have semi-autos, but I forgot. Pistols seem to be the easiest guns to own. I believe rifles and shotguns need proof of a “legitimate” (ie. not self defense) reason for ownership. One person told me he had to get a farmer to write a letter saying he had permission to shoot on his farm before he could get a license to own a .22 bolt action rifle.
Ok, I promise I won’t bore any of you again with my vacation photos … until the next trip.