Zimbabwe has a proud history of sport shooting. The country in the past has been well-represented in most disciplines, producing a world champion IPSC Practical Pistol shooter, a world champion Palma Rifle shooter, competitors in ISSF Olympic Free Pistol and Rapid Fire Pistol and Clay Target at various Olympic Games, distinguished Aperture Sights rifle competitors and IMSSU Metallic Silhouettes teams competing in most of the previous world championships. Zimbabwe was a founder member of Practical Pistol, sending delegates to the Columbia Conference in 1976, and won the Team even at that year’s world championships. A number of current IPSC procedures, such as the score-divided-by-time Comstock scoring method had their beginnings in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). There was formal fullbore rifle competition in the country in 1895.

Our shooting sports have survived through some very difficult and trying political, financial and security crises. A true interpretation of the Olympic motto has helped us cope with some extreme challenges. Our shooting fraternity under the Zimbabwe Sport Shooting Federation is close-knit and all the disciplines’ calendars are co-ordinated to give most shooters an opportunity at competing in more than one shooting sport.

The Zimbabwe Pistol and Smallbore Association clubs and ranges nationwide have over the past 20 years been reduced to a handful of main shooting complexes. These facilities cater for multi-discipline shooting and we participate in Practical Pistol Shooting, Metallic Silhouettes, Black Powder, Clay Target, Bench Rest Rifle (UK), Open Sights Rifle, Olympic Pistol and Rifle, and Air Rifle and Pistol. Through other national associations under the Federation, Bisley Target and Service Rifle, ISSF 300m Centre Fire Rifle, and the Clay Target disciplines are available. It is not uncommon for a shooter to participate in two different disciplines in a single day. We have incorporated Zimbabwe citizen hunters and Professional Hunters and Guides into the sporting curriculum, and The Federation has designed and administers the National Parks-approved firearms proficiency exam required for a PH’s license.

Challenged by continuous shortages, our principle has been that if a shooter comes to the range with a certain firearm, we try and find a discipline to suit his equipment. We are not blessed with well-stocked gun shops and online shopping. Arms embargoes do have a negative effect on the sport as many manufacturers and distributors are bound by franchise agreements not to deal with listed countries, such as Zimbabwe is at present. The most popular Silhouette-related discipline is our local sport of Open Sights rifle, enjoyed by both senior and junior shooters alike using standard small bore rifles.

The national Silhouette range is located in Harare on the Harare Shooting Sport Complex, an area of 10 hectares, catering for most recognized international shooting disciplines. Adjoining ranges offer a full Olympic size Clay Target complex, a 900 yard Bisley rifle range, and a state-of-the-art Polytronic range – which has sadly not been well looked after by the government.

Our Silhouette facilities consist of:

  • One 500m Big Bore Rifle range
  • One 300m Big Bore handgun
  • One 300m Big Bore handgun
  • Three 100m Small Bore Rifle ranges
  • Two 100m Small Bore handgun ranges
  • One 100m Field Pistol range
  • One 40m Air rifle range

Metallic Silhouette shooting in Zimbabwe started back in 1973, when some of our local shooters made up a set of metal silhouette targets in the shape of our local game birds, which they shot with small bore handguns. In 1976 official targets, adopted from the I.H.M.S.A., were introduced and target ranges demarcated for the first time. Silhouettes continued as such without any official affiliation until 1995 when we were approached by South African Metallic Silhouette Union, inquiring if we in fact shot Metallic Silhouettes. Our participation in the IMSSU championships in Stellenbosch in 1996, was our initiation into international Silhouette competition.

In 1997 we held our first International championship, when we hosted the first “Africa Metallic Silhouette Championships”.

Although, we only have a small following in Metallic Silhouettes by senior shooters, approximately 20 in number, we are blessed with one of the finest ranges in the world, with 300 days of fine weather per year. Our endeavours to introduce and subsidize juniors into the discipline will hopefully ensure a continual interest shown by young shooters in the shooting sports in general.

Contact details:

Zimbabwe Sport Shooting Federation Chairman: Mike Nicholson wz.oc.smh@cinekim
Zimbabwe Pistol and Smallbore Association Chairman: I J Larivers wz.oc.loz@tnuhsif
Zimbabwe Silhouette Shooting Chairman: Ron Speight
Secretary: Michael Laban

Article: Ron Speight