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Eight Gun Competition

Just prior to Christmas I was lucky enough to get a call from a friend who told me he was helping out with an 8 gun competition shoot the following day, and would I be interested in entering.

I had no idea what an 8 gun shoot was exactly, but hearing there would be shooting out to about 800m involved, I was in! (Those sorts of distances don’t come up too often living in the city).

There was a reasonable entry fee, but I was also told I didn’t need to bring any ammo or guns as it was all covered in the entry fee. I was given directions to a private farm about an hour north of Auckland and told to arrive before 9am.

Ammo include, and trying out some new toys? Why wouldn't you?
Ammo included, and trying out some new toys? Why wouldn’t you?

Arriving bright and early in the morning I was guided by a person in Hi Viz to a carpark area and told someone would be along to collect me shortly, after a few introductions with others in the carpark area, we all jumped in various 4wds and were driven to the staging area.

Still not really knowing what I was in for, the organiser Shawn gathered us all around and explained we would all be given a scorecard to carry with us at all times, as we rotated through 8 shooting stations throughout the day and would be scored by the range officer at each station.

A good result after a great day of shooting.
A good result after a great day of shooting.

The stations were:

  • Shooting spinning targets at about 25m meters with a .22LR
  • Shooting a lever action .45 at falling steel plates
  • An AR15 chambered in .223 at a set of bowling pins
  • An AK-47 in 7.62×39 at a set of bowling pins
  • 20g shotgun with a series of flying clays
  • .300 Win Mag at 350m
  • .338 Lapua at a series of distances out to just shy of 800m, and;
  • A 50BMG with incendiary rounds at an engine block at 300m

Each shooting station had a “range officer” in Hi Viz who explained the course of fire, helped where required, and scored each shooter.

With some 30-odd competitors, experience was varied from people who had never shot before, to those with substantial experience. This event catered for all. Even the locals from neighbouring properties were invited along and it was great to see them coming over and showing their support for such a great event. Some of the young ones also got a chance to have a shoot with the smaller calibres under supervision.

After a great day’s shooting and meeting some like-minded people, we were invited back to the house for a BBQ and informal prize giving.

The only thing better after a great days shooting than a cold beer and a BBQ was the awesome trophy I managed to score, winning the event!

Over all it was a great day out, and I would highly recommend it to shooters of all levels.

If you’re interested in attending the next one (planned for March 2017), contact Shawn at or 021 180 3823 to register your interest.

Pretty cool trophy!
Pretty cool trophy!



Where to shoot in NZ: Waiuku Pistol Club

It’s been a while since I’ve written a ‘where to shoot‘ post, possibly because I haven’t really been anywhere too exciting in the last little bit. However, that could be because I’m quite spoiled as a member of Waiuku Pistol Club.

At the beginning of the year I was tossing up joining one of three pistol clubs, to get my B Cat licence and start getting into 3 Gun comps. I was looking at Howick Pistol Club, Auckland Pistol Club and Waiuku Pistol Club.

Not many ranges are set up for rifle, shotgun and pistol use.
Not many ranges are set up for rifle, shotgun and pistol use.

I have shot pistol at Howick and Waiuku, and done an induction at Auckland Pistol Club. I quickly eliminated APC, because even though the facilities were excellent, only pistols or pistol carbines could be shot there. Since I shoot a lot of centrefire rifle, and a smidgen of shotgun, I didn’t want to shell out for a pistol membership and still have to pay range fees when I wanted to shoot long guns.

Howick was eliminated for the same reason, but also because the indoor range with specific target zones means most competitive pistol matches need to be shot in a modified format. This was disappointing as the range is only 5 minutes from my house!



So in the end, even though it’s the furthest of the three from where I live, I ended up joining WPC so that I could shoot long guns as well as learn pistol. The club was also enticing because it had the best range availability. With shooting allowed between 10 am and 4 pm, Wednesday through Sunday, there’s plenty of time to practice and shoot competitions. If you’re a visitor, don’t just rock up – you will be turned away! Visitors can shoot long guns after 12 pm on Saturday or pistols after 10 am on Sunday.

This ensures there is space on the range for you, and also that there are people around who can unlock the ranges and show you around. If you want to head down for a few hours to try before you buy, or just want to sight in your hunting rifle, make sure to follow the WPC visitor’s instructions for an easier experience.

What’s available?

For the princely sum of $20 (cash), you’ll have access to a couple hundred metre ranges and several smaller ranges. There are steel silhouettes for rimfire, falling plates for pistols and shooting tunnels for you guys with magnumitis or particularly short, noisy, braked or ported barrels. If you want to find out more about the ranges, click here.

The range is in Otaua, just south of Waiuku, and is about 45 – 50 mins drive from Manukau. If you’re anywhere south of the Auckland CBD, it’s a very driveable distance for regular trips. I head down just about every Sunday from East Auckland, stopping at the BP service station before the Drury offramp for a healthy breakfast of a pie and coffee.

You and everyone else around you will be glad for the shooting tunnels when big guns like this .300 WSM are on the range. Also great for when there's a bit of rain!
You and everyone else around you will be glad for the shooting tunnels when big guns like this .300 WSM are on the range. Also great for when there’s a bit of rain!

Once you’re there, the club house is warm and dry, and sheltered from the wind if it’s howling. Unlike some ranges in the wider Auckland region, you don’t have to use a long (or short) drop if you’re busting. The club house has ‘facilities’ as well as a safe area for cleaning/maintaining pistols, a well-equipped first aid area and a large seating area for courses, meetings or just having a bite of lunch.

Whatever you need in terms of food and drink, take with you, as there aren’t any shops nearby. Also, you’ll be juuuuust out of cellphone reception for the duration of your visit to the range. Which – let’s face it – is probably a good thing!

Club culture

I’ve heard some people say that they found Waiuku members a bit stand-offish when they visited. This wasn’t encouraging when I was looking at joining. However, this hasn’t been my experience. At least not any more so than other ranges.

When you’re an unknown person at a shooting event or visitor’s day and have access to some pretty powerful hardware, it’s natural for regulars at any range to treat you with a bit of a keen eye until they’re certain you’re someone who is safe and capable.

This is quickly overcome by being sensible and practical (courteous as well), and also asking questions if you don’t know the procedures.

There are plenty of members around who are keen to help you have a good time, and will share their knowledge with you if you ask (sometimes even if you don’t!).

You’ll also sometimes see groups of scouts or Adventure Girls come through – a further testament to the openness of the club towards education and furthering people’s experience with firearms.

If you’re looking for a spot to spend some hours putting lead down range this summer, I’d highly recommend checking out WPC. Also, as we’ve just started a new quarter, it’s a great time to sign up as a member, as you won’t have to pay a full year’s fees.

If you’ve got any questions, pop them in the comments section below or get in touch with the club via their website or Facebook page.

5 steps for replacing a shotgun stock

If you’re more familiar with the build of a bolt action rifle, removing a shotgun stock can be puzzling at first. No obvious action screws and a bunch of stuff hidden inside. Here’s a quick run down on replacing a shotgun stock.

Step one: Remove the recoil pad

The reason you can’t see any action screws holding the wood to the metal is that you have one long bolt hidden in the buttstock that keeps it all together. Removing the recoil pad will reveal a hole in the centre of the stock, through which you can access that bolt.

A Phillips head screwdriver is usually the tool for the job.
A Phillips head screwdriver is usually the tool for the job.

If the screws holding your recoil pad to the stock are hidden in the rubber and you can’t see what tool to use, try a Phillips head screw driver. Most manufacturers still use these.

What's missing from this SKB? You'll never know if you weren't paying attention in the first place.
What’s missing from this SKB? You’ll never know if you weren’t paying attention in the first place.

Step two: Remove the stock bolt

These are usually pretty easy to remove, and all you need is a socket wrench with appropriate extensions and the correct size socket. Trial and error will help you find the right socket size, as each firearm is different.

Because these bolts are not overly tight, the slight differences between imperial and metric should not be too much trouble.

CAUTION: If you’re working on a semi-automatic shotgun, there are a lot of parts (including springs) that will shoot out if you do not hold the stock and action together and carefully remove the bolt and other pieces. Watch how they come out, as you’ll have to put it back together.

Step three: Do whatever it is you were going to do

This is the part where you clean your action, replace your stock, repair any cracks, or whatever it is that motivated you to remove the stock in the first place.

Step four. Reassemble

Putting it all back together is pretty simple, especially for U/O, SxS and pump-action shotguns. If you’re working on a semi for the first time, I hope you paid attention when you took all the bits and pieces out, or you may end up with a click but no bang the next time you go out shooting.

There may be some fining up to do at this point. If you’ve replaced your buttstock, you may have to grind the old recoil pad down to size, or you might want to use some sawdust, stain and oil to fill up fine gaps between the action and the replacement stock (if necessary).

This Hatsan Optima O/U got a good clean while the stock was off for replacement.
This Hatsan Optima O/U got a good clean while the stock was off for replacement.

Step five: Function test

With an empty chamber or dummy rounds (snap caps), test the firearm for function. This means loading, firing and unloading. This is the time you want to find out about it. Not in the blind or on the range.


4 gun myths that need to stop

Action movies are great. You get to relax and get pumped up at the same time. However, there are certain things that Hollywood, news media and general ignorance get people thinking about guns that just aren’t true. Here are four myths that need to stop, right now.

1. A silencer makes your gun sound like a mouse fart

There are very few “silent” firearms. Those that have been created to be virtually undetectable from about 30 feet (10 metres) away, were mostly clandestine firearms developed in war time, such as the De Lisle carbine and the Welrod pistol.

However, almost every other firearm in existence is still pretty loud with a suppressor on. The aim of a silencer, suppressor or moderator, is to reduce the decibel level and take out the loud “crack” of the round being fired. This helps in several ways.

  • It protects your hearing – especially for hunters.
  • It makes it harder to pinpoint the origin of the sound – keeps the animals confused for a couple seconds longer
  • It keeps the volume down at the public range or when on private land near to neighbours

The suppressor also makes it easier to shoot more accurately, as it reduces the recoil felt by the operator of the firearm, as well as the muzzle climb. This means shooters have less of a tendency to flinch or close their eyes, and can take follow up shots more quickly if an animal has not been taken cleanly.

While incredibly quiet compared to what is was before, this rifle is still loud enough to not be confused with a grandma spitting
While incredibly quiet compared to what is was before it had a silencer, this rifle is still loud enough to not be confused with a grandma spitting

2. Cars are often blown up with bullets

This is one of the great contradictions in movies and video games… Shoot a car enough times and it’s apparently going to blow up. While it’s possible, it’s not very likely. Fuel lines and tanks are very hard to puncture, and are right in the guts of the car. Even if you do manage to spring a leak, you have to continue shooting in that vicinity to try and get sparks from your rounds’ impact to set the fuel alight.

Tied in with this fallacy is the idea that cars provide great cover. No they don’t. Most hunting cartridges could penetrate through a car door or roof and still do a great deal of damage – never mind the shrapnel created in the process. Twenty millimetre rounds from a jet, 7.62×51 armour piercing rounds from a gunship or .50 cal rounds from a ma deuce will rip you and your car to shreds.

3. Guns click and clack whenever you point them at someone

This is one of the most aggravating things to see in a movie – and few are exempt from this awful foul up. Every time a character handles a weapon in any way, it makes a lot clicking, mechanical noises. As if it’s doing something. If I hold a gun, it makes no sound. If I lift it up and point it at something it still makes no sound. If I swing it around in circles and dance around with it – it still makes no sound.

A firearm will make a noise in these situations:

  • It is being loaded or unloaded
  • It is being calibrated or sighted in some way
  • A gunsmith is busy taking it apart
  • Your pulling the trigger and making it go boom
  • A safety or selector is being applied
  • A hammer or slide is being pulled back
  • You drop it on the floor
  • You hit someone/something with it

Other than that, they’re pretty darn quite. If you leave them alone in a safe for a million years, they still won’t make any noise.

4. Guns need to be racked/cocked every few seconds

Directors seem to think that working the slide on a shotgun is punctuation for a tense sentence. For those that don’t know, every time you rack a pump action shotgun, it ejects the round that is chambered – whether it has been fired or not. This means that every time the hero says something cool and makes that “kachook” sound for effect, he’s ejecting a perfectly good round. If he keeps doing that, he’ll have nothing left in his magazine by the time he’s done talking.

Keep racking that bolt and you'll have an empty magazine soon enough.
Keep racking that bolt and you’ll have an empty magazine soon enough.

The same applies to the slide on a pistol, or the charging handle on a semi-automatic rifle. When the SWAT team makes all those clicky sounds as they’re leaving HQ, then again during the pep-talk in the truck, again when they get out of the vehicle, and again when they confront the bad guy, they’re ejecting a bunch of perfectly good rounds (if this were real life). At three rounds per SWAT member in this example, and a team of 10 people, that’s a whole magazine of ammo wasted every call out. Terrible economics.

I could go on, but that’ll just have to be food for another article. What bugs you about firearms in popular media?

Modified M38 bolt.

Why I will never use my safety

If you’ve gone through the effort of getting your firearms licence, you’ll have come across seven neat rules that should dictate the way you handle guns for the rest of your life. These are the foundation of the arms code and are as follows:

Rule 1: Treat every firearm as loaded
Rule 2: Always point firearms in a safe direction
Rule 3: Load a firearm only when ready to fire
Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt
Rule 5: Check your firing zone
Rule 6: Store firearms and ammunition safely
Rule 7: Avoid alcohol and drugs when handling firearms

You’ll notice, not one of these is “apply the mechanical safety on your firearm”. Why is this? Mechanical objects fail due to wear and tear, extreme conditions and pure bad luck. If you’ve read the instruction manual that comes with your new rifle or shotgun (highly recommended activity), you’ll notice that while new and improved safeties are always created for weapons and mentioned in these manuals, they usually discourage you from relying solely on these little switches.

How does a safety work?

There are two ways that most safeties work. The first is that they block the trigger from being pulled back, or even disconnect the trigger mechanism. The other is that they block the striker or hammer from moving forward and contacting the firing pin. There are many, many other types of safeties, and they can be in different places on your firearm, but they all have one thing in common – they are small bits of material upon which a large responsibility hangs.

That is why you never rely solely on a safety. Now – this my preference – I prefer not to use the safety at all. Some ranges will require your safety to be applied, and that’s fine. But, I personally don’t want to build up a reliance on a little switch.

What do I do instead?

When on the range and not using the rifle, I have it pointed in a safe direction with the action open, magazine out (or empty) and a breech flag in the chamber. This indicates to everyone that firearm is unloaded and safe.

When carrying a firearm to or on the range, same applies. Magazine out or empty (if fixed), and safety flag in or thumb in the chamber – muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

When firing on the range – well, you’re firing. What good is a safety when you want it to go bang?

When carrying a rifle in the field… This is where it gets a bit tricky. I leave my ammunition in my pocket, as well as my bolt if it’s a bolt action, until I’m near where I want to be shooting. When I am in the area in which I want to shoot, I fit the bolt (or close the action on a semi), and load the ammunition.

At this point, I do not chamber a round. I close the bolt on an empty chamber by pushing the top round down with my thumb or inserting the magazine on a closed bolt. When you’re ready to line up your shot, rack the bolt and get ready to squeeze the trigger.

If your quarry eludes you – drop the magazine out and remove the chambered round. Double check to see there’s nothing in there and close the bolt on an empty chamber before inserting your magazine again. Or, push the top round down on your bolt action.

This is just my personal procedure – you may have different feelings on the matter, or experience to the contrary. Leave a comment below with your tips on firearm safety.

Check out the arms code here.

Shooting a sporterised Husky M38 at Deerstalkers Auckland range.

Get started shooting: How to get an A Category licence

While you might go to the range or shoot a .22 on someone’s private land – under immediate supervision – to get your first taste of shooting, if you’re serious about owning or shooting firearms, the next step is getting your A Category licence. Here’s a quick guide on the process, what to expect and what an A Cat licence entitles you to do.

What firearms can I own with an A Cat licence?

There are no restrictions on the amount of A Cat firearms you can own. They’re not registered against your name, and you can go buy one from the store straight away, assuming you have your licence and all the associated safety measures in place.

Firearms that are considered A Cat compliant are basically rifles or shotguns that are manually loaded. This means pump actions, lever actions, bolt actions, etc. You can have any features you want on these guns, as long as the overall length is more than 762 mm (30 inches). Anything shorter than that is considered a pistol, and will require a B-endorsement on your licence – which is a whole other story.

This means you can shorten your barrel, or have it in a bullpup configuration, whatever. There is no real minimum barrel length, as long as the overall length is over 762 mm. Which makes sense, as the issue with handguns is conceal-ability.

You can also own a semi-automatic sporting rifle or shotgun, but there are restrictions on these to make sure they don’t fall in to the MSSA (Military Style Semi-Automatic) category, which is governed by an E-endorsement on your licence.

In order to keep your semi-automatic firearm in A-Cat compliant condition, you’ll need to make sure:

  • The magazine holds 7 rounds or less of centrefire or 15 rounds or less of rimfire ammo
  • The mag also can’t “appear” to hold more than the above
  • The butt isn’t collapsible, telescoping or folding
  • There is no bayonet lug present
  • There is no flash suppressor
  • It doesn’t have a free-standing “military style” pistol grip

The pistol grip is the latest addition to the MSSA restrictions, and has been met with a cold-shoulder from the shooting community. Essentially it made a whole lot of unregulated A-Cat firearms illegal and meant people had to modify their rifles or dispose of them. New rifles or shotguns are now usually provided with thumbhole or Dragunov-style stocks.

SKS with Dragunov stock
The SKS my friend Nick is shooting here would be illegal with a free-floating pistol grip instead of the Dragunov-style stock

What do I need to do get my firearms licence?

Well, there’s the obvious stuff first. For those with criminal records or histories of domestic or other violence, a licence to hold a potentially lethal weapon isn’t exactly on the cards. The police firearms officer will do a background check on you, and they’ll also ask to interview two referees. If you’re married or otherwise attached, one of those referees will have to be your spouse, while the other must be a non-related person you’ve known for a couple years or more. Those referees are basically to attest to the fact that you’re a fit and proper person to own a firearms.

However, before you’ve even done this step, you’ll have to sit a test that shows you have a solid understanding of how to safely store and use hunting or sporting weapons. Start your study by asking your local police station for a copy of the Arms Code or get it online. Once you have a thorough understanding of what is involved in the responsible and safe ownership and operation of firearms, you can apply to sit the test.

The test will be held at your local police station, and is facilitated by volunteers who have a wealth of practical firearms experience. They’ll take you through the main points of gun safety, including how to carry a gun in the field and ensuring the firearm is made safe before and after use. There’s a short video and practical demonstrations of how to hold, load and unload a rifle or shotgun.

After all this there is a multi-choice test, for which you have to get almost all of the answers right in order to pass. If you don’t get it right the first time, you’ll have to study up some more and attend another information evening before you can sit the test again.

Once you have your proof of having passed the test, you can go to the local post shop and pay for your licence. The cost is $126.50. You’ll need to get proof of payment along with passport photos to the police. At this point you’ll arrange for your safety check to be done at home. Talk to the police or your local arms officer about what the safety standards are.

For an A Category licence, a good standard is to have a lockable safe with separate ammo compartment (bolts and ammo must be stored separately so as to make the firearm inoperable). These can be picked up for a few hundred bucks on Trademe or other websites, and are usually supplied with expanding bolts and pre-drilled holes so you can secure the safe to either a concrete floor, or the walls and floor if you’re securing to wood (say, inside a closet). The firearms officer will check to see if the safe is actually securely fastened – it’s no good if a potential thief could just lift it up and take the entire safe away, guns and all.

Once you’ve sat your test, paid for your licence and supplied photos, had your referees interviewed and safety checked, it’s just a matter of time before your licence arrives in the post. It could take a few weeks or more, depending on how busy they are – so don’t freak out! Also remember that your licence is valid for ten years and will have to be renewed before it expires if you’re to keep your firearms. Which reminds me…