(from The Rifleman's Journal - http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com)
The modern era of historical arms shooting began in the Cape in 1958 when a small group of 9 enthusiasts started the Historical Firearms Society of South Africa (HFSSA) in Cape Town, the late Barry Berkowitch being the commanding figure. The first black powder shooting club, the Cape Town Muzzle Loaders Association (CTMLA) was also founded in 1958.
Single Shot Pistol:
In the late 1970s the Historical Firearms Shooting Union was formed as a separate body to the HFSSA to focus on developing the sport of black powder shooting. A few years later the name of the body was changed to the present Black Powder Shooting Union of South Africa (BPSU).
By then, competitive shooting with black powder breechloading arms became popular and in 1978 the Transvaal Breech Loaders was formed. This was the first and only club catering for vintage and classical breechloaders and was based at Zwartkop, subsequently home of the Mariette Black Powder Shooting Club.
Regular international matches were held between South Africa and the USA and Great Britain in the 1980s and the national body controlling black powder shooting, the Historical Firearms Shooting Union of South Africa (HFSA) then became affiliated to the Muzzle Loaders Association's International Committee (MLAIC) and adopted its rules for competition with muzzle loading arms in South Africa. South Africa since participated in several World Championship Muzzle Loading events (Codogna Italy in 1975, Zurich Switzerland in 1977, Virginia USA in 1980, Bisley UK in 1981, Cape Town in 2001, Bordeaux France in 2007, Cape Town in 2007, Adelaide Australia in 2008, Camp Butner USA in 2009, Barcelos Portugal in 2010, Bisley UK in 2011, Pforzheim Germany in 2012, Cape Town in 2013, Granada Spain in 2014, Camp Butner in 2015, Sarlospuzsta Hungary 2016 and Adelaide Australia 2017).
In 1983 South Africa was invited to participate in the MLAIC World Championships in Bordeaux France, but due to complaints from certain countries about the racial sporting policy, the team was ultimately banned. The USA was outraged at this and under the leadership of Bucky Malson organised a test match between South Africa and the USA in Colesville, New Jersey. This team was captained by Steve Berkemeyer and the group consisted of Steve Berkemeyer, John Hall, Jack Wittleson, Eddy Stern, Derek Engelbrecht, Malcolm Cobb, Michael Elson, André Malan, Werner Krier and Dave Preiss.
In the Free Rifle Individual event, John Hall won the gold medal with a score of 96/100 and in the team event, Jack Wittleson shot a magnificent 98/100! In the handgun events, Michael Elson won the gold medal with a score of 96/100 for Single Shot Pistol with his .44 Repro Le Page – André Malan shot the same score but was counted out to 2nd place. This was a new South African record at the time and still stands today! He equaled this score in the team event, followed by David Preiss with a 95/100.
In 1997 the BPSU played a key role in the formation of the World Long Range Historical Rifle Shooting Association. It hosted the first World Championships at Bloemfontein where six nations were represented. It also contributed to the drafting of the rules to regulate this event and which have been adopted internationally. The earlier events were mostly held under rules for competition and safety, which had been established by various national and international bodies with similar shooting interests.
Currently, the BPSU regulates the competitive shooting of historical firearms dating from the flintlock era of the 1700s up to and including service arms of the pre-1919 period, and reproductions thereof, in a wide range of events. These are hosted either by the BPSU or by the Provincial clubs, under the auspices of the BPSU.
The rapid expansion of competitive shooting of historical firearms in South Africa has prompted the BPSU to publish a comprehensive book of rules to promote safety and regulate the competitive shooting arms in South Africa. This publication is likely to require revision from time to time to adapt to changes in historical arms shooting.
In 2001 South Africa hosted the MLAIC World Long-Range Championship in Cape Town. The South African mid-range team won the bronze medal in the team competition, while the long-range team won the silver. In 2003 South Africa competed in an individual as well as 8-man team matches against Germany in Cape Town. All the Germans shot breechloaders, while the South African team included 3 muzzle loaders. Some good individual scores were recorded, but Germany won the team events. During 2005 the BPSU entered several teams to participate in the 11th MLAIC Pacific Zone Championships in which 6 countries participated. South Africa won the gold medal in the Rigby team event (100m Free Muzzle Loading).
South Africa hosted the 4th World Long-Range Historical Rifle Shooting Association Championship in Cape Town during April 2006. South Africa entered 16 shooters and official Protea colours were awarded by SASCOC. Thirteen breechloaders and three .451 muzzle loaders were used by the South Africans. Several individual medals were won by the South Africans and in the 900-meter team event our team showed character in extremely strong wind conditions and won this distance with an astonishing 63.20 points over the Americans who came second. That secured the silver medal for the South African long-range team.
Shotgun shooting (muzzle loader and flintlock) is also well established with several Protea Teams who represented South Africa at International events, i.e. the 22nd MLAIC World Championships in Bordeaux, France in August 2006. The rifle team consisted of Willie de Beer (captain), Merwe van Rensburg, Japie Maritz, Casper Badenhorst, Joe Raymond, Edward Knowles, Manuel Cardoso-Lopes and Corena de Beer. The shotgun team consisted of Zappi Lupini, George Synodinos, Vinci Vimercati, Kevin Greenwood, Johann Theron and Paul Vimercati as manager. A total of 26 countries participated in the world championships and 2 of the South Africans, Corena de Beer and Zappi Lupini did us proud with good scores shot.
In April 2007 the BPSU also entered a national team to participate in the 12th MLAIC Pacific Zone Championships that was shot during the BPSU SA National Championships in Bloemfontein. Some very good scores were recorded, and South Africa won 17 medals.
On 1 September 2007 the top 45 shooters from France, UK, USA, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Sweden and South Africa met up at the Good Hope Shooting Range in Cape Town for the 6th MLAIC Long-Range Muzzle Loading World Championships. The team consisted of Merwe van Rensburg (captain), Willie de Beer, Japie Maritz, Casper Badenhorst, Corena de Beer, Johan de Beer, John Duckitt, Darryl Carver, Kobus de Villiers, Ronnie Blake, Tertius Smit, Dave Taylor, Gavin James and Johann Vosser as manager. The MLAIC rules acknowledge the first 6 places in each event (gold, silver, bronze and certificates for 4th, 5th and 6th places). At the end of the individual events we stood proud securing 31 awards (medals and certificates) for our country.
Japie Maritz shot a new world record of 48.3/50 at the 500-meter individual event. Kobus de Villiers won 5 of the 6 original rifle events, all with new World Records (metrics). After the individual events, 4-man teams competed in the mid- and long-range team events. South Africa (Merwe van Rensburg, Tertius Smit, Japie Maritz and Casper Badenhorst) won the mid-range team event with a huge margin of 31 points and 9 v-bulls, with France in second and the USA in third places. After trailing by 24 points after the 800 meters in the long-range team event, the South African team (Merwe van Rensburg, Japie Maritz, Tertius Smit and Kobus De Villiers) shot magnificent in blistering wind conditions at the 900-meters and were crowned the Long-Range World Champions as well again with the same huge margin of 31 points. Switzerland was second and the USA third. South Africa was the undisputed DOUBLE WORLD CHAMPIONS with an overall aggregate win of 81 points.
The 23rd MLAIC World Short-Range Championships took place in Australia in September 2008. South Africa sent team of 4 seniors (Corena de Beer [captain], Willie de Beer, Colin Twine, Eddie Stern), 2 shotgunners (Robbie Crawford-Brunt and Frans Cronjé) and 4 juniors (Clint Slabbert, MJ Dippenaar, Wim Steyn and Frederick Jacobs) to this event. This was the first time that South Africa entered a junior team. The juniors excelled by winning no less then 14 medals, while there were some good individual performances from all team members. Entering a junior team in a world match now placed South Africa in a more advanced ranking, building on the future of our sport by developing skills within the juniors that would hopefully one day secure more awards in the senior events.
During 2009 the South Africans again secured 14 awards at the 13th Pacific Zone Championships.
During September 2009 South Africa again entered a team of Protea shooters to participate in the 7th MLAIC World Long-Range Championships, hosted by the USA at the Camp Butner Range in North Carolina, USA. The team consisted of Merwe van Rensburg (captain), Eugene Kuisis, Japie Maritz, Johan de Beer, Ronnie Blake, John Duckitt, Tertius Smit, Gavin James, Corena de Beer, Kobus de Villiers and Johann Vosser as manager. The South Africans performed well in the mid-range events and secured several awards. The South African mid-range team secured the 2nd place, only 2 points behind Germany. During the long-range events the South Africans really excelled and showed superior marksmanship over the rest of the world. In the 900-yards event Merwe van Rensburg took the 3rd place with 65.3/75, Eugene Kuisis the 2nd place with 65.4/75 and Tertius Smit was 1st with 67.2/75. Merwe, Eugene and Tertius broke the world record in this event, with Tertius Smit now holding the new world record. In the 1000-yards event South Africa again showed superior marksmanship with Merwe van Rensburg securing the 4th place with a score of 59.4/75 and Eugene Kuisis won with 62.3/75.
The South African long-range team secured the gold medal with an unbelievable score of 477.18 breaking the previous long-range record by 68 points and 9 v-bulls. Great Britain took the second place with 427.1 – trailing the South Africans by 50.17 points. The South Africans further won the overall team aggregate by a margin of 78.17, with a team total of 976.44, followed by the Americans in 2nd place with 898.27 and Germany 3rd with 888.31. Individually South Africa ended with 5 shooters in the world top ten ranking being Eugene Kuisis, Tertius Smit, Merwe van Rensburg, Kobus De Villiers and Gavin James. Eugene Kuisis was crowned the world mid- and long-range champion in the reproduction class and Kobus de Villiers successfully defended his 2007 world title as mid- and long-range champion in the original class again.
During August 2010 a team of 4 senior shooters (Hennie Grobler, Colin Twine, Corena de Beer and Willie de Beer) accompanied by 6 junior shooters (MJ Dippenaar, Wim Steyn, Willem Steyn, Chris Twine, Bart Keet and Frederick Jacobs) and team manager and captain Merwe van Rensburg attended the 24th MLAIC World Short Range Championships hosted by Portugal at the Fervença Range in Barcelos. Thanks to the outstanding shooting by some of our juniors in the senior 100-meter Free Rifle (Whitworth) event, we now have the world 100-meter title secured in South Africa.
After consultation with all parties involved, the team manager and captain Merwe van Rensburg decided to enter four of our juniors in the 100-yards Whitworth senior event for exposure and to give them another opportunity to shoot. The juniors entered were Frederick Jacobs, Chris Twine, Bart Keet and Willie Steyn. The other two juniors unfortunately had to return home before this event was shot. Because we already entered a senior team in that event we could not enter another team on behalf of South Africa. Shooting shoulder-to-shoulder with the best shooters in the world, Frederick Jacobs shot an outstanding 99/100, winning the world title in the senior event. Chris Twine followed with a 97/100, giving him the 4th place in the senior event. Bart Keet followed with a 93/100 in the 37th place in the senior event. Making it even more outstanding is the fact that these 3 juniors shot a combined score of 289/300. If we could enter them as a team, they would have secured the gold medal by a 3-point margin in the Rigby team event against France (286/300) Germany (285/300) and Switzerland (284/300).
Proudly, in 2010 we hold the Whitworth world title in the reproduction class, the mid- and long-range world titles in the reproduction as well as in the original classes.
The 8th MLAIC Long Range World Championship was hosted by the UK from 12 to 18 September 2011 at the world renowned Bisley Range in Surrey, London in the UK. The team had the Royal Air Force lodge and clubhouse at the Bisley shooting facility as our accommodation. The team consisted of Japie Martiz (captain), Merwe van Rensburg, Eugene Kuisis, Johan de Beer, Ronnie Blake, John Duckitt, Tertius Smit, Corena de Beer, Kobus de Villiers, Divan Ferreira and Johann Vosser as manager. Other countries present were Austria, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany, France and the USA. In the reproduction class, South Africa won gold (Corena de Beer) and silver (John Duckitt) at 300-yards, bronze at 500-yards (Merwe van Rensburg), gold at 900-yards (Tertius Smit) and gold and a new world record (Tertius Smit) and silver (John Duckitt) at 1000-yards. Kobus de Villiers shooting in the original class did us proud by winning bronze at 300-yards, bronze at 500-yards, silver at 600-yards, gold at 900-yards and gold with a new world record at 1000-yards. Needless to say, he won the individual overall aggregate match and became the first individual to win the original class mid- and long-range world title three consecutive times.
The 25th MLAIC Short-Range World Championships were held in Pforzheim, Germany in 2012. The rifle team consisted of Johan de Beer (captain and manager), Corena de Beer, André Stander, Johan van Wyk and Frederick Jacobs. For the first time we entered handgun shooters as well (Shaun Kennedy, Bernard Toyk and André Malan).
After fulfilling all the necessary trial and selection criteria SASCOC awarded Protea Colours for the team to take part in the 9th MLAIC Long-Range World Championships in Cape Town, South Africa from to 8 to 14 September 2013. The team consisted of Johan de Beer (captain/coach/shooter), Eugene Kuisis, Tertius Smit, Corena de Beer, Merwe van Rensburg, André Stander, Marnus Steyn, Chris Williams, John Duckitt and Ronnie Blake and Pieter Truter as manager. Kobus de Villiers as defending world champion competed in the original class.
Merwe van Rensburg set the tone for the rest of the match in the reproduction class by winning the gold medal with an excellent score of 47.1/50 at 300m. Corena won the bronze medal, with André Stander 4th, Marnus Steyn 5th (all on 44) and Ronnie Blake 6th. Kobus de Villiers won the 300m original class. At 500m Marnus Steyn won the gold medal in replica class with a 46.4/50. Tertius Smit won the bronze medal with Eugene Kuisis 4th, both with 45. Kobus de Villiers won the silver medal in original class and his only non-gold of the match. At 600m Eugene Kuisis won the gold in the reproduction class with 40.2/50 in very trying and blistering wind conditions. Marnus won silver, Tertius Smit bronze, Ronnie Blake 4th and Chris Williams 6th.
The mid-range team match (300-600m) was shot on Wednesday 11 September. Each country was allocated two targets and Eugene and Tertius with their replica Billinghurst underhammers shot on one with Corena and Merwe with their Ferriss rifles on the other. In freezing cold windy conditions this SA team shot like the real champions they are and after the 600m was done, SA finished with 487.20 and some 43 points clear of Germany in second place. The dominance was shown in the results with Corena getting the highest individual score of all competitors of 126.08, which included 45 at both 300m and 500m. Eugene had the 2nd highest score with 125.04 and Tertius 3rd with 123.04.
Kobus won the gold medal in original class at 800m. In the replica class Marnus won silver and Tertius bronze both with 62/75 with Eugene 4th and Johan 6th. The 900m were shot in two details with conditions rapidly deteriorating with the 2nd detail shot in horrific conditions. Kobus won the gold medal in the original class and Marnus won the gold medal in the reproduction class, with Tertius 5th and Eugene 6th. The long range individual aggregate was won by Kobus in the original class and Marnus in the reproduction class with Tertius 4th and Eugene 5th. At the end of the individual competition Kobus won the Grand Aggregate in the original class with a huge margin and was crowned the world champion yet again for the 4th consecutive time. This proves his dominance in this class and event and some great shooting.
In the reproduction class Marnus was crowned the world champion with Eugene 3rd, Tertius 4th, Johan 10th, Corena 12th, Ronnie 14th, Chris 15th, Andre 18th and John 22nd. This clearly shows how well the SA team performed. Tertius has now come 4th in the last 4 consecutive world championships and as Merwe said at the prize giving, this is surely the most consistent shooting in the world.
Corena won the trophy for the lady with the highest aggregate for the 2nd consecutive time.
At 800m the conditions were not good, but Eugene and Tertius were shooting great. Eugene ended with an exceptional 69.7/75 and Tertius with 64. At 900m the conditions just got worse, but SA shot well. Eugene finished with 64.4 for a combined 800 and 900 score of 133.11/150 and Tertius with a 62 for a 126.7. The final SA score was 474.26 beating the USA by 30 points and 16 V-bulls, with Germany ending in 3rd place. This score was also a new world record.
During this world championship the South Africans secured 25 out of the possible 28 Gold Medals (team events included). For the 4th consecutive world championships SA had 5 shooters in the top 10 in the individual reproduction class aggregate with twice the world champion, as well as the world champion in the original class.
In 2014, the 25th MLAIC Short Range World Championship took place in Granada, Spain. South Africa sent the smallest team to date to compete in this championship, being Corena De Beer (captain and manager), Johan van Wyk, Pieter Truter, Clint Slabbert, Jacques Jansen van Vuuren. For the 2nd time since 2006 a short-range Protea Group returned home with several medals. This was also the very first MLAIC world short range championship that included a 300m individual and team event. Pieter secured a respectable 9th place out of 44 entries in the Minie event with a score of 92 and Corena also achieved 9th place in the Walkyrie match. In the Rigby team event, the South African team (Corena, Pieter and Clint) came 6th.
The Granada Event was the new 300m event where Corena secured the individual Gold Medal for South Africa with a score of 90/100. In the Alhambra Team event at 300m, the South African team, consisting of Corena, Pieter and Clint, also secured the 1st place and Gold Medals.
The 10th MLAIC Long-Range Muzzle Loading World Championships was held in Camp Butner, North Carolina, USA, in 2015. The management team consisted of Johan de Beer as captain/coach/shooter and Hubert Heydenrych as team manager. The shooters were Tertius Smit, Corena de Beer, André Stander, Marnus Steyn, Chris Williams and Pieter Truter. There was only 1 new cap, being the manager, and 3 of these members (Tertius Smit, Johan and Corena de Beer) represented South Africa in all the previous 4 long range world championships since 2007.
In the mid-range events, Tertius Smit placed 2nd and André Stander 6th at 300 yards. All scores were particularly low to less-than-optimal shooting conditions. At 500-yards André Stander won the gold medal with 46.3/50, which equalled the world record. Tertius was 4th, Marnus 5th and Johan 6th. At 600-yards Pieter finished 2nd with 45.2, beaten only by Lee Shaver from the USA with a new world record of 46, and Tertius ended in 5th place. After the first day of the match, the South Africans were performing outstanding with Tertius winning the mid-range aggregate in the reproduction class, with André 3rd, Marnus 4th and Pieter 7th.
The mid-range team match (300-600 yards) was shot on Wednesday 11 September. Conditions at 300-yards were not bad, but visibility was very poor. The coach managed to work out the conditions and we posted the highest 300-yard score of 45.3 by Pieter and 43, 42 and 40 by the other 3. At 500-yards the guys shot excellently, with Pieter posting a brilliant 48.3/50, Tertius and André both 45.3.
The 900-yards scores were incredibly high; Pieter ended 9th with 64.1/75 and Corena finished 11th with a great 63.2/75. Guenter Kunz of Germany won the gold medal in the 1000-yards with a new world record of 68.4/75. Pieter finished 2nd and André 3rd. That left Guenter as the winner of the long-range aggregate with Pieter in a brilliant 2nd place.
Guenter also won the Grand Aggregate, with Lee Shaver 2nd. Pieter Truter ended in a very deserving 3rd place with André Stander 5th, Tertius Smit 6th, Marnus Steyn 9th, Corena de Beer 15th, Johan de Beer 17th and Chris Williams 25th. The world standard has improved dramatically over the last few years with the scores remarkably higher. From 4th to 17th place is only 12 points difference where after it decreases dramatically from 19th place. South Africa is still the only country with 4 shooters in the top 10 and 6 in the top 20.
South Africa won the mid-range team match with 496.17 and beat the USA by 25 points and were 2nd in the long-range team match. for the 5th consecutive World Championships South Africa won the team aggregate for 300-1000 yards by a margin of 38 points.
Corena, for the 3rd consecutive time, won the trophy for the lady with the highest aggregate.
In 2016 the Protea Short-Range Team that performed the best to date travelled to compete in the 26th MLAIC Short-Range World Championships in Sarlospuzsta, Hungary. They travelled under the captaincy and management of Corena de Beer and the team were Pieter Truter, Jacques Jansen van Vuuren, Chris van Gaalen, Jean-Pierre Pellissier (Junior) and Gustav Meyer.
Individual achievements include Corena 4th in the Walkyrie, Jean-Pierre 3rd and Gustav 4th in the Soper event and Gustav Meyer 2nd and Jean-Pierre 6th in the Ferris event. Corena being the most senior shooter in the team, with the extra burden of the Captaincy role, shot her best scores ever at a short-range World championship in all the events she participated in. The other new senior Cap, Chris van Gaalen did extremely well that he just missed the certificate levels with a 7th place in both the Gettysburg-and Whitworth events. It must be kept in mind that the first six places in the Whitworth event were full scores and Chris shot a 98/100. The “Frontiersman” team (special event for 100m military rifle off hand) secured a bronze medal, but our biggest achievement for all the short-range teams to date was the silver medal won by Corena, Pieter and Chris in the Rigby match with scores of 95, 94 & 98. There were 16 teams entered.
In 2017, a very small South African long-range team participated in the 11th MLAIC Long-Range Muzzle Loading World Championships in Adelaide Australia. The management team consisted of Johan de Beer as captain/coach/shooter and Hubert Heydenrych as team manager. The shooters were Corena de Beer, Pieter Truter, Chris van Gaalen and Chris Williams. There was only 1 new cap, being Chris van Gaalen, and only 2 of these members (Johan and Corena de Beer) represented South Africa in all the previous 5 long range world championships since 2007.
We had mixed fortunes with the mid-rage individual events, with Chris van Gaalen coming 6th at 300m, Pieter 3rd, Corena 4th and Chris van Gaalen 6th at 500m and Chris van Gaalen 6th at 600m. The 800m was shot in intermittent rain and with the wind getting stronger. By now some shooters were running out of windage on their sights. Corena and Johan ended 4th and 5th with the same scores. Then a 1000-yard match was shot instead of 900-m. This was shot in very poor visibility with extremely strong winds and Pieter ended 4th.
Chris van Gaalen ended 5th, Pieter 6th, Corena 8th, Johan 10th and Chris Williams 20th on the Mid-Range Aggregate with only 6 points between 5th and 10th place. Corena ended 6th and Johan 7th in the Long-Range Aggregate, separated by a single point. In the Grand Aggregate Corena and Chris van Gaalen ended with the exact same scores and v-bulls and he counted her out. He ended 6th with Corena 7th Johan 9th and Pieter 10th and Chris Williams 17th. Between 4th to 9th places were only 3 points difference.
The mid-range team match (300-600m) was shot with Pieter and Corena in the 1st relay and Chris and Chris in the 2nd with Johan coaching. Conditions were extremely bad and after the 500m, the USA team was leading by a fairly big margin. The match then rained out and the 600m was only shot the next day. This went a lot better and South Africa posted the highest team score for that distance. That also secured us the Silver medal behind USA. We ended 3rd in the long-range team match behind the USA and New Zealand by only 7 points. Despite this, South Africa however ended 2nd in the team aggregate for 300m-1000 yards.
Corena, for the 4th consecutive time, won the trophy for the lady with the highest aggregate.
In 2018 a short-range team will compete in the 27th MLAIC Short-Range World Championships in Eisenstaedt, Austria. The team will consist of Corena de Beer (captain and manager), Pieter Truter, Jacques Jansen van Vuuren, Chris van Gaalen, Marx Meyer (new junior), Simon van Gaalen (new junior) and Corné Schreuder (new junior). All 3 juniors will compete with both rifles and pistols and we wish this team all the best.