By Lorraine Lawrence
Like most people that hunt I belong to a few of the conservation and sporting organizations. I usually attend a banquet or other events in support of these organizations. So it wasn’t unusual when my friend Rick asked if I was going to the Safari Club International Convention this year in Las Vegas, Nevada the week of January 30 - February 3rd. Rick Warren is the driving force behind the Warren Wildlife Gallery in Austin, Texas (http://www.warrenwildlifegallery.org/about ) and he was putting a team together for the SCI Foundation and Krieghoff International 6th Annual Sporting Clay Shoot in support of Safari Club International Foundation projects. This year’s shoot was benefiting the Boy Scouts of America, one of the many things the SCI foundation supports to further conservation and education. The Sporting Clays Shoot was held the day before the main convention started at the Clark County Shooting Complex a short distance away from the main convention center. The Sporting Clays Shoot was a wonderful way to kick off the week of the convention with teams made up of SCI members from around the world. The competition was friendly and competitive and I think I was very lucky to have walked away with a Second Place in the Ladies on a competitive course, shooting one of the fine shotguns provided by shoot sponsor Krieghoff. After the shoot we were treated to an opportunity to try some of the big bore safari guns on the rifle range.
If you have never been to a convention of this type and you are a hunter the SCI convention is really the “Ultimate Sportsman’s Market” with nearly 1 million square feet and 2,300 booth spaces the convention has something for everyone. Your shared interest, commitment and valuable donation serve to protect our freedom to hunt, promote wildlife conservation, manage hunter education programs and humanitarian services worldwide. Over 20,000 SCI members, including ones from over 100 different countries, attended this year’s convention.
Aside from visiting with friends from all over and seeing people I have hunted with there are also booths on a wide range of products; guns, equipment and more to prowl through. While booking hunts is one of the main reasons people come there is more than enough to keep you busy for days. It isn’t called the “Ultimate Sportsman’s Market” for nothing… This year I particularly enjoyed seeing the numerous booths of the fine gun and rifle makers and purveyors. It is really exciting to see booth after booth of such superb examples of fine gun making. With over fifty different companies including venerable names like Holland & Holland, James Purdey & Sons, Ltd., John Rigby & Co., Boss & Co., Westley Richards & Co., Blaser USA, Heym AG, Krieghoff International and more. There were things to appeal to all tastes and needs; from custom made rifles, shotguns to accessories to tactical optics and firearms of interest to collectors. I stopped by the Rigby booth to talk with Marc Newton the Managing Director at John Rigby & Company. They had on display the legendary .275 Rigby rifle owned by famed hunter Jim Corbett and as a tribute, a faithful reproduction of the rifle. Their booth was hard to miss with the complete safari tent and furnishings. Rigby had generously donated one of their Modern Classic Big Game Rifles to the SCI Live Auction. Marc showed me Rigby’s new “Highland Stalker” rifle that seemed to be attracting as much attention from SCI members as the Corbett display. Though know for its larger caliber rifles, the new “Highland Stalker” features a Mauser 98 action and is built to be a true deer stalking rifle in the traditional style and is available in a range of calibers from .275 Rigby, .308, .30-06, 8x57 and 9.3x62 it should prove to be a very popular choice for hunters no matter what they are hunting!
If the gun dealers and makers were the “icing” on the cake then the outfitters and guides would have to be the “meat and potatoes”, something an SCI convention couldn’t do without. With well over three hundred guides and outfitters on hand there are trips available to nearly any location on the globe. While I was checking out outfitters for Spain, the United Kingdom and Namibia my friend was interested in trips to Turkey and Mongolia. I ran into other friends who were planning to hunt New Zealand and Alaska. While strolling the show I ran into a lot of people I knew; from outfitters I have hunted with before that I had a chance to catch up with, to guides and other hunters. I took a little time to visit with Marina Lamprecht the owner of Hunters Namibia Safaris, one of the “Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitters”. The booth sported a new special badge and is just one more “jewel in the crown” of an already highly respected outfitter [You can learn more about Craig Boddington endorsed outfitters on his website at www.craigboddington.com ]. Aside from running a world class hunting operation in Namibia Marina Lamprecht has long be very active in SCI participating in educational lectures and outreach programs to help people understand more about conservation and encouraged hunters to participate in philanthropic efforts in the places they hunt. Like many outfitters and guides she believes in the full picture. Giving back to the habitat and people that make it all possible. Contributing so the future generations can enjoy the lifestyle while helping to conserve the habitat and wildlife through sustainable programs. As if she wasn’t doing enough she told me about new programs that Hunters Namibia have established to raise the standards of living for the people in Namibia. The first is a project of staggering scale in terms of giving back to the community called “Hunters’ Home” to provide nurturing, housing and sustenance for vulnerable children. Marina not only does business in Namibia, she lives there; she and her clients are an important and active part of the community. She saw a need and did something about it. Hunters’ Home is a boarding home for vulnerable children of the Otjivaro community near Windhoek, Namibia. In the community nearly 50% of the children are orphaned or from child-headed homes. The Lamprecht family has constructed the Hunters’ Home facility so that these children can be cared for, protected and nurtured. It is a safe place for these children to be educated and inspired. It is fully equipped and ready for operation. While Hunters Namibia and Marina and her family and guests are donating considerable time and funds to this endeavor they realize they cannot completely handle all the home’s needs alone. Safari Club Foundation has had a long history of sportsmen being involved in humanitarian services. This is just such a program and you can contact Marina Lamprecht (firstname.lastname@example.org ) for more information on how you can help support the Otjivaro Boarding School Trust and make a real difference in the lives of the children and the community in Namibia.
The second project is one that teamed the Lamprecht name in close cooperation with the Fiocchi ammunitions company to create a new manufacturing business in Namibia. The Lamprecht Shotshell Company ( www.lamprechtammunition.com ) has been working not only to make high grade ammunition which can rival imported material, but it also created much needed jobs and growth in the area. The business is located in eastern Namibia on the edge of the Kalahari. Despite the remoteness of the area it is a ‘state of the art’ facility with technologically advanced equipment and a fully integrated and computerized ballistics lab. They are now making everything from shot shells for wing shooting to AAA Buckshot loads in premium quality. The successful product is now being exported to other countries.
It is an inspiring story but not the only one I encountered while at the SCI convention. We often hear about terrific outfitters and guides going the extra mile for their clients, but there are many SCI members that also go the extra mile in their communities. I was just privileged to be able to share one more story.
Along with all the booths and exhibitors at the convention there are also a wide range of seminars and educational opportunities being presented daily that attendees can visit and find out more on various subjects from a long list of sources. As I was walking down one of the exhibit aisles I came up on a signboard showing that one of these was just about to take place not far from where I was. While the title “Babes with Bullets” may raise a few eyebrows it was a great empowering program that presenter Debbie Ferns was giving. The subheading gave a bit more information on the particular program “Encouraging women to pull a trigger” introducing women to hunting and shooting. I made my way to the area that was buzzing with activity. Aside from Deb’s informative talk there were also opportunities for convention visitors to try out some of her technical advice on an ‘airsoft’ range. Deb usually gives instruction and support to other women at one of her women’s action shooting camp opportunities (visit www.BabeswithBullets.com for more details and registration information). Camps focus on handgun use for women of novice and intermediate skills. Additional camps have a broader range and feature instruction on handgun and rifle or pistol, rifle and shotgun. Her book “Babes with Bullets” talks about how she learned shooting sports and how to introduce other women to this fun and friendly sport! Deb is responsible for having helped a lot of women discover they have a talent too.
It was only a short walk away until I also discovered the Prois booth featuring hunting and field apparel for women. Prois founder Kristie Pike showed me the new innovative ‘Cumbre’ camouflage developed just for ladies. Like the entire Prois line it is designed for success and engineered with innovative technology. In its tenth year of business Prois is now on the leading edge of an expanding market. While I had not set out to make my report on the 2018 SCI convention about women, it has certainly had a lot that show that SCI is of interest to women.
Many people may want you to think “Safari Club” means a stereotype of white haired ‘gents’ in khaki shorts because it fits with a bias they have against hunting. My walk through the convention is proof positive that this isn’t the case. SCI is both inclusive and diverse; people from a wide range of countries, nationalities, race and gender. Its made of people that are involved in conservation, education and continuing to protect our rights as hunters. Well worth the trip!
You may want to mark your calendar for next year’s event to be held in Reno, Nevada January 9-12, 2019.