When there is a shortage of a particular truck chassis in South Africa, it requires some real “Boer maak-a-plan” ingenuity to replace them, as our manufacturing sector cannot provide them anymore. In this case our persistent customer told me that he needed to get a certain chassis for a certain model truck as they no were no longer made in ZAR.
(Honestly I cannot recall the exact model truck etc. I also want to protect the customer by not giving out details that could compromise his business).
He had an idea of an old battlefield up north, across from a river that he knew there were ranks of parked trucks that he needed the chassis from. BUT he also knew he would need to get permission to get into the old war zone and then get to the right person to close the deal.
So off he set with a passport and the necessary visa’s to legally cross international borders. Additionally and probably more importantly, he carried the currency of Africa: Cooler box’s filled with beer and meat.
Crossing a few borders legally, he soon ended up in some thick bush following a track pointed out to him by some laughing border guards. Clearly he was in a no man’s land governed by bandits or guerrillas depending on your view point. Getting things mixed up here would ensure that your corpse would be picked clean by Vultures and Jackals and no one back home would ever know. Simply stepping or driving off the track could result in a landmine detonation, not to mention that this was big five country with all the other critters that rule Africa not least the Anopheles Mosquito.
Within a day or two he came upon a “checkpoint” (essentially a tree trunk on a hinge that acted as a boom across the tracks he was following) guarded by two individuals whose clothing needed replacement long ago and a bath even before that.
The only thing that exceeded our brave traveler’s nervous state was the incredulity of the guardians of the boom upon seeing a civilian vehicle approach and then be spoken to by a white bloke asking about trucks. (Yes he spoke there lingo).
Armed with the ubiquitous AK47, the guardians of the boom must have been puzzled out of their bored minds. Can you imagine sitting on track surrounded by MMBA (Miles and Miles of Bloody Africa) where not 20 years before, the area was a hot spot in the Cold War. Now it was just hot and boring.
But not today. Expressing his desire to get in and chat to the "Bossman", our traveler was told to turn around and not come back.
Most of us would have turned around. The AK 47’s can be quite a motivator. However not our traveler. He turned back on the track and after a certain distance set up camp and then performed the most South African of rituals: He Braai’d. Jip, he set up a small camp careful to avoid land mines and over the next few days braai’d and tried not to drink all the beer.
Eventually the guardians of the boom, enticed by the smell of roasting meat, came to the camp. Over the next week or so a relationship was created, which after a time allowed him to drive to an old guerrilla base camp.
Lo and behold there was rank upon rank of the truck that was needed to be cannabalised. But first he had to meet the Mr. No 1. As I understand it, back in the day, the head honcho was actually the 2iC of the movement, that is, until the leader of the movement himself came to a sticky end- now he was the Big Guy.
No doubt, negotiations were carried out alongside or at least concluded with a braai. A price was struck and our traveler set out for an uneventful trip home.
Once home he got himself a huge army surplus recovery truck, prepped it out with all that he would need and a flatbed truck or two.
The salvage operation up north went on without a hitch until one of the locals started screaming and gesticulating like crazy to him: He had just driven into a mine field!
What to do? He could not reverse out of the danger zone. What to do?
Well, he thought, this is it and then drove the shortest possible route back onto the track.
Fortune favours the brave, but luck is great lady to have as a friend too!
He made it home safely and is pleased to be living happily ever after.
Speaking of Landmines:
Imagine the scene: You are ploughing your field (on land that an African Government has leased to you) and an object comes to the surface.
Usually it is encased in mud and thoroughly corroded. The shape is usually round but rectangular is found. Ball shaped sizes are also not uncommon.
Farming with landmines on your land is just one more hazard that could shuffle you off this mortal coil in the blink of an eye. Africa is not for sissies.
In this particular case I was horrified by my customer telling me this story. I asked him what the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) was in such an event.
Well, he explained, you report it to the local police who are meant to mark off the location and keep all and sundry away from it, ‘til the experts arrived.
EOD I suppose.
They would then do a controlled detonation. Now I am not exactly sure what happens if you blow up something that is designed to blown up, but, I can only imagine that you end up with a crater of varying sizes in your field but (hopefully) without casualties.
Eventually my customer told me the landmines were being ploughed up regularly and eventually they got so irritated with having to wait for the experts, that they would place (I do not want to be reckless and use the word toss) the object on the side of the field.
Using my sense of humorous imagination I can only think of the reaction of the experts upon arriving and being pointed to a corroding pile of land mines sitting under the hot African sun waiting to be destroyed. The controlled detonation must have been epic.
I can only imagine the chagrin of the farmer and his staff as they now have a really large crater to fill in.
Whatever your adventure may be: www.thequartermaster.co.za is here to supply good gear to the Good Guys and Girls of Southern Africa to survive and thrive in beautiful Africa.
Customer Tales II
The Door Gunner
On social media we often hear the term “Door Gunner”.
It conjures scene of a Huey Helicopter flying over Vietnam, quite possibly accompanied by the sound track of “Paint it Black” by the ‘Stones or “Fortunate son” by CCR.
An exciting scene as Hollywood would have us believe, that is if you are not a Vietnamese on the ground.
This customer needed modifications made to his rig in order to accommodate the larger size of his Magazines for his rifle. When I asked him what it was for, without skipping a beat, he said “I am the door gunner”.
I think I spewed a bit of coffee over my keyboard when he said that.
Obviously he now had my attention and I gave the logical answer, “What!” I am not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to laws and was intrigued. His explanation was simple. He was part of an Anti-Poaching operation somewhere south of the Zambesi.
It was explained to me that their ‘çopter had often been fired upon by poachers. Such a situation is most unnerving to say the least and at best gets one an exhilarating helicopter flight.
I was relieved to hear that in non-war situations normal morality and laws still applied, it is still illegal to simply gun someone down from out of a side door of a chopper.
On getting fired upon he would then reply with “7.62x51”Loudspeak!
As an aside: I am in the fortunate position to still have a good friend who has been in no less than 3 helicopter crash landings. The one time it was a caused by doppie that was inhaled by the helicopter jet turbine intake. Needless to say he got a sound thrashing from the pilot once on the ground and the blades stopped topped spinning. Shooting from the air in a helli is a complicated business
Here is a tip that was shared with me for when you hit the ground hard in a helicopter: Do not get out until the blades have all stopped moving. If all you can see is flames, you might have to decide otherwise. If the pilot is moering you, you caused the hard landing.
But I digress; Still, the fact that civilians are having to act as door gunners, is indicative of the rot that permeates our broader society. Let’s hope that no one has to be killed to protect our endangered wild life. A bloke who puts himself in harm’s way both physically and legally to protect what is his, does say something about his commitment to protecting his own.
Well we certainly hope that our customers Stay Safe. Africa is not for sissies and the good guys are going to need gear and TheQuarterMaster is ready to do just that: Supply the Good Guys with Good Gear.
Camino! Four friends. 240 kilometers. 8 days.
Three friends and I planned to do part of the Portuguese Camino over Easter time 2018
The route was from the Portuguese city, Porto, all the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, ending our 240 kilometer journey in the Chapel of Santiago on Easter Sunday.
According to the author of our guidebook, “A Pilgrims guide to the Camino Portugués” by John Brierley, there are many pilgrim paths to Santiago but none is more significant and soulful than the Camino Portugués.
They say if you have to walk far, pack light. This sounds simple enough but imagine four girlfriends, it is just the beginning of the European Spring and temperatures are only touching double digits with the rain season in full swing. But if you have to pack light, pack clever!
TheQuarterMaster helped me to kit out my backpack with all the essentials I might need during this journey. I made space for my “Survival pouch” which the other three girlfriends found really amusing, joking about my ‘MacGyver bag’
But the laughing was quickly replaced with thankfulness as we used every single item Camo advised me to pack!
In my survival pouch were the following items
-Medium Honey Badger opener Knife (Camo sharpened it for me prior to departure)
I will try and explain why these items were so helpful during our 240km trip.
Day one was the toughest of all, in some mysterious way we misread the distance in our guidebook and ended up walking 38 kilometers on the first day. I think the initial idea was to walk about 12km less. (I am saying mysterious because we all know that girls are good at reading maps!)
We entered our Albergue (hostels along the route) just as the sun was setting down over the lively town of Barcelos.
All was lively but for the four South African pilgrims. We were done for!
But having only two sets of clothing we knew we had to wash our hiking outfit and get it dry before 06:00 the next morning.
Luckily for us, most of the hostels had a heating system of sorts in the rooms and we could set up a handy washing line, (using the Paracord, cutting it to length with the Honeybadger Opener Knife) next to the heater. This was the standard procedure for the next few days as we made our way to Santiago. My Honeybadger knife would also slice bread, carve cheese, stick olives and peel oranges along the way….
The Soak-It Eco Wet Wipes also replaced my sponge and was a great way of washing in the evenings and not have the hassle of a big sponge or soggy face cloth in my toiletry bag.
Day two started early, the NiteCore NU05 Headlamp guided our way through the dark and extensive market square of Barcelos.
As the sun was rising over the landscape we were already following the Camino signs towards Pont de Lima.
According to our guidebooks, this is the longest and the most beautiful stage of the Camino. But with only 30kilometers to do, it seems like childs’ play given our previous days’ hike! After a beautiful hike through the river valleys of Neiva and Lima we decided to book into an Albergue a few kilometers before the town “Pont de Lima”.
We knocked on the door of a retired Dutchman home, on a hill that overlooks a picturesque village next to a beautiful bubbling stream. The only available accommodation was in a stone cottage on the grounds but there wasn’t any central heating in the ice-cold stone cottage. Luckily the cottage had a small fireplace and TheQuarterMaster made me travel with the N3 LED torch/lighter. We soon made a cozy fire, played Foosball, drank some of the local Port until it was sleeping time.
Day three was the shortest distance according to our guidebook. But by now we all know when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. The mere 18 kilometers includes a hike over the top of the Alto de Portela Grande mountain, the steepest accumulative climb with limited facilities!
At the top of the mountain, that we realized we finished all of our drinking water during the climb and have nothing left for the descent….
Exhausted from the never ending climb our only option was to get water from an overflowing dam and having our Aqua Salveo Water Disinfectant, we could treat the water and have enough for our journey downhill. A tummy bug at this stage of our Camino would have been disastrous!
So far, we were lucky in booking private rooms in the Albuerges’ along the Camino.
By the end of day 3 marked the first time we had to bunk in a dormitory room, in a small Albeurge, a traditional stone family house in the town of Rubiáes.
We’ve only heard about bed bugs along the way and although the facility was really neat, we didn’t want to take the chance of waking up with bed bugs. So, we used the bottle of Vital Protection from TheQuarterMaster to spray our beds, bags and tracking suit for a peaceful nights’ rest.
Day four we crossed over the border into Spain, through the historic old walled town of Valenca into Tui.
It would also be the first time that we use our yellow roll of duct tape to strap the one pilgrims foot, who is now walking with excruciating pain, coming from her Achilles heel. (It helps if one of your fellow pilgrims is a physiotherapist).
The Duct tape also strap toes together to prevent blisters as we are now walking in constant rain and friction inside your damp boots is inevitable.
And so, the journey continues for the next four days: Tui-> Redondela-> Pontevedra-> Caldas de Reis-> Padron-> Santiago, through vineyards, along highways, over miles of cobblestone. We braved ice rain, wind, lightning and sore legs but we arrived in time for the Sunday morning pilgrim service in the Cathedral of Santiago. The highlight of the service being the swinging of the giant incense burner!
If you ever have the time, do yourself a favor and undertake one of the ways to Santiago.
But remember to take a “survival bag” with you. The right gear can make the journey so much easier!
Thank you TheQuarterMaster for being such an important part of my Camino Portugués journey!
So, it I thought: I‘m going to walk home from here! The time is 16:25 on an early winter’s afternoon in Johannesburg. Ahead lay a walk of close to 13 km and the sun would be setting in about an hour or so. It was already chilly, temperature dropping quickly as the sun approached the horizon
So what’s the big deal?
In 2016 I did a bug out to test whether my Bug Out Bag/Get home Bag would actually help or hinder me in walking 27km. By my account it was successful. (See thislink for full story)
However; I had this nagging feeling that perhaps it was not as “real” as it should have been. You see my bag was packed I had pre-planned my route AND determined the time when I would walk it.
A big factor in a bug out or get home scenario is Timing and Location. It is the unknown. You will not know when (Time) or where (Location) you will be when you are to make the decision to walk home. Bluntly put, you will be forced to make a decision based on you situation. This may be a civil disaster, traffic jam, flood, riot or simply running out of fuel.
Thus after my Bug out in 2016 I had been looking for an opportunity to do a “surprise” bug out. However only Schizophrenic sufferers are able to plan a surprise party for themselves and pull it off.
I had the option of requesting friend to literally collect me from the office or home and then drop me off at a location in a time unknown.
However this never materialised until a few days ago when I went to drop off my vehicle for its service. To get home I would need a family member to collect me, and, as they were busy it would inconvenience them.
Then the though came to mind: Well Camo, now is your opportunity to bug out.
Perfect I thought! Distance was about 12km and it would be primarily along tarred roads and pavements so it should be a piece of cake.
I booked my vehicle in at the Rosettenville Dealership and then retrieved my Bug-Out-Bag.
Immediately the first problem presented itself: I had my Bug out Bag as well as my Lap top bag to carry. There was no way the lap top would be abandoned. It simply was not an option.
My Bugout bag weighed in at 9kg, the laptop at about 7kg. Before setting off I took a bunch of water sachets or “Boebies” and stuffed them into my pockets as well as a battery to charge my cell phone.
I set off with the Bug out Bag slung on my back and the Laptop Bag carried on my chest. 9 kg on my back, 7kg on my Chest and stomach a total 16kg on my feet.
What was I wearing? Essentially office work clothes. Slip on ankle boots, jeans, shirt with collar and a sports jacket. Due to a cut that had inflicted on the palm of my right hand a week earlier I was wearing a buff on my wrist over my palm to protect the cut whilst it healed. Ironically the buff would prove to be gold on the walk home.
Thus unsuitably attired I set of at about 16:25 on a late May afternoon. The sun was going to set and the rush hour traffic was in full swing.
I had a sneaked a peak at google maps to confirm my route was sensible. Google gave me 3 options all within about 1 or 2km of each other in terms of distance to be travelled. I chose what I thought was the safest, primarily alongside tarred roads.
I turned off the main road in Rosettenville and zig zagged my way through less busy back roads towards my first waypoint. It was a nice walk. The bags sat comfortably on my back and front.
Walking really does slow one pace both physically and mentally allowing one to notice what is going on around oneself, Mother collecting their kids from afterschool, kids playing soccer in the street, folks walking home with shopping bags, the smell of suppers cooking; generally a very peaceful scene.
For the first 30 minutes I was hyper vigilant as to the possibility of being mugged. The way I was carrying my bags meant that I was not going to be able to outrun anyone. Fact is even without the bags I would not be able to.
However as the reality of what I was doing set in I became more focused on putting one foot in front of the other, every now and then I would stop and glance back to check that all was ok.
Shortly I joined a main road which I had to use. Essentially it was one of 3 choke points that I had to transit to get home on this particular route. Each route I chosen had one of these and whilst it had not concerned me, if the situation was dire these choke point could make it impassable if they had been blocked.
No more was I in quiet back roads, the traffic was hectic and there were a lot of pedestrians walking home mainly in a direction toward me. As I walked noticed the litter and debris from car accidents strewn alongside the pavements. Quite depressing.
Crossing an intersection with the bags I was carrying proved to be an exercise in patience. No way was I going to be able to show a disregard for a red light, and frankly Gauteng traffic treats traffic lights as yield anyway. So patience waiting for the correct signal and a break in traffic was necessary. Would have been hilarious sight to get knocked over wearing the gear I was.
Reading the newspaper headlines plastered to the street poles: I chuckled when I saw the one read “The burden of Big Boobs” little did I know that I would be sympathising with that headline shortly.
Traffic was as hectic when I reached the top of what is a very steep hill. I guestimate that vertically the drop is about 135m over the distance of about 2.5km. There was no pavement to speak of and I was forced to cross the road and also walk on the island separating the lanes of traffic.
Walking on uneven ground really sucks. Pretty soon the lap top bag on my front was burdening me pretty much as would big boobs or a pregnancy I suppose. Additionally the bag straps would keep slipping off. In the beginning it was a nuisance, eventually it was a major irritation.
At about 17:30 I made my first stop. Dropped a pin on WhatsApp so my family would know where to find my body if I did not make it. I swopped the bags around: the 9Kg Bug out Bag on my front and the Laptop bag on my back. Due to the style and width of the shoulder straps the Bug out Bag were less prone to slipping off.
I had not realised it but the light was pretty dim. Passing vehicles had their head light on, those street lights that were working had switched on. I stopped again and took our my NiteCore NU30 Headlamp and NU05Headlamp (Yes I carry two Headlamps in my bag)
I strapped both to my head. One facing rearward set to flashing red and the other to the front, set to medium output and focused downwards so I could actually see where I was putting my feet. Whist the state of our roads generally is not good, it is way worse for pavements. They are uneven, littered, overgrown and at times dug up. If it were not for the Nitecore I would have planted my face into the pavement on more than one occasion. No jokes.
At one point I was taking a short cut across a section of veldt to save time when an inter-link truck almost rode over me. I have no idea whether he saw me or not, but he pulled off the road either to pick someone up or sleepover for the night. Either way I almost had an 18 wheeler impressed upon my face
I then switched my Nitecore onto a high output. I had been well aware that my clothing and bags were dark, I just could not believe that now one sees flashing lights. I felt like a persecuted cyclist!
Remember the buff I mentioned earlier: Well it was a life saver. As it got colder so did my head and face and ears. I then wore the buff on my head covering mouth. I must have looked a site with two flashing headlamps and my head swathed in fabric. Nonetheless it really worked. My head and ears were protected and warm.
Finally after about 3 hours I got home at 19:30. I had drank about 4 x150 “boebies” (750ml) and was knackered. Compared to the bug out I had done in 2016 it was a lot tougher. Probably a combination of the extra weight and my less than ideal physical condition.
So to sum up it was pretty uneventful although tougher than the 27km event I had done before: However I do believe that some important lessons were learnt.
- Unless artillery, rioters, Gas, Fire or floodwaters are bearing down on you; one will not easily abandon ones vehicle or its contents. Yes it may be insured, but we capitalist’s do not like to throw away stuff we have worked hard for.
- You will have to decide what you can and cannot carry. This is going to depend entirely on your situation, physical condition and route.
- Footwear: Hiking with the wrong footwear is a recipe for a disaster and will probably debilitate you for the next few days.
- Abandoning your vehicle is usually not the best idea especially in a lost in the bundu situation.
- Your car can protect you against the elements, sleep in it and be much more comfortable than sleeping under a bush.
- Walking a long route home is not always sensible. Check your route, perhaps you have friend, family, church or work colleagues that could offer sanctuary.
- A small child or someone wearing heels is going to seriously disrupt your plans for hiking.
So: You need to be prepared for whatever South Africa throws at you and www.thequartermaster.co.za is the place to get your gear.
Thanks for reading.
It was still dark when I grabbed my Bug Out Bag from the back of my car.
Bag weighed about 15kg. I had not checked the contents for months……
And that was the point of the exercise. To test my own preparation for a just in case scenario. I work about 30km from home, and with all the student protest, infrastructure decay and of course notorious Gauteng traffic, it is not inconceivable that I would have to walk home.
In fact, many many South Africans walk 5km or more to work and school every day.
Also: working for TheQuarterMaster.co.za customers often ask for advice about Get Home/Bug Out and First Responder bags. It would be in a sense a test of advice that I had read and also given.
My objective was to walk to my shooting range AKA Funky Town home of SAS.
According to Google it was about 30km distant. I had no idea how long it would take given the distance and my own physical condition, which to be brutally honest was not great. I am unfit and overweight.
Nonetheless it was a challenge which I looked forward to.
To complete the scenario, I was wearing the safety boots that I would normally wear to work.
So, what was in my bag you ask?
- 4x500ml bottles of water
- 30mx10mm Rope
- A mess kit
- Emergency Stove & fuel tablets
- Single meals
- Flameless Ration Heaters
- Gun cleaner
- Jet flame lighter
- Drimac jacket with hood
- Solar charger
- Extra 9mm Ammo
- Anytone 3318 Dual Band radio
The only addition to the load out was a spare battery forthe 3318 and of course a cell phone and a GPS. (To verify my trip)
The route however would be as different in geography as it was long. The route from work is entirely on tarred road and Urban for the most part. Today’s route would be through trackless veld and dirt road.
Over the years I had completed the route on quadbike so I was confident of not getting lost. However, I had made arrangements with Plaashaas who gleefully awaited my call for him to 'Extract' me.
But there was another purpose: Having recently become a licenced amateur radio operator I also wanted to make use of the dual band and repeater set up to make comms with PlaasHaas.
I would also 'Drop pins' from google maps on WhatsApp so we could verify distances and locations if anything would go awry.
I donned the jacket from the Bag and set off. It was cold and chilly late September morning about an hour before sunrise.
I cannot remember the phase of the moon, but it was light enough to walk however I did need my EDC torch when I had to cross two unpleasant smelling ditches.
Soon I was in the veldt, crossed a major road, passed a cemetery when the sun made its daily appearance from the east. It’s pretty uneventful and pleasant to be up and about at this time of the day.
I crossed the fast-flowing Klipriver and was crossing a large field when Plaashaas made contact on the UHF channel. Being rather new to this I am mindful of correct radio procedure etc. It really was great to be able to make contact without the use of a Cell phone.
Not having had anything to eat and getting quite hot I stopped for a break about 2.5hours/9km into the walk.
Plaashaas then sent me co-ordinates and a compass bearing for a short cut to FunkyTown. For the life of me I could not get it keyed into google maps, so decided to use the GPS. Even this was a chore, as the last time I had used it was about 3 years ago and had to quickly re-learn the contextual menus. I managed this and saw that I had 7km before I got to it.
I then hit a dirt road and had the pleasure of seeing a herd of Springbok. I had now entered an area that had a series of kopjes (hills) that interfered with comms on the repeater we were using. We switched over to a simplex frequency (Direct radio to radio) I was pleased that we were able to make contact via this method, as Plaashaas is in the process of assisting locals set up a radio network for farm security in the area.
After another 1 or 2 stops I was at the waypoint. Well not exactly. A GPS co-ord from Google Earth does not exactly translate into a precise location on a GPS. I was probably within 100m of it, but being familiar with the area I was then able to navigate on a compass bearing until I came into familiar territory. It was after 11:00 and the sun was beating down. I was walking with my shirt unbuttoned and had consume 2 ½ bottles with 500ml of water remaining. My legs were very saw and my soles painful. It was hot
Nonetheless I was happy with my progress. Comms with Plaashaas were now out of radio comms due to geography and the fact that he was mobile, losing the height advantage of the SAS Radio/aerial.
I kept looking for shade to stop but there was very little and with the extremely hot dry wind, I was tiring.
At about 12h00 Plaashaas had driven to high ground and we regained comms. Using the strobe function on our torches we were able to signal our location to each other. It was quite amazing that at the brightest part of the day being able to use our torches to signal over a distance of about 2km!
Earlier in the day Plaashaas had convinced me to change my destination with the promise of ice-cold beer if I could make it.
The last 90 minutes were really tough. As My feet were aching and stiff. I had to be careful not to twist my ankles on tuft of burn grass and stones. Finally, I could hear the shooting at FunkyTown: Music to my ears! Just over this rise I though then I would see the range flags! But it was not to be that simple: I had a further two blind rises to cross before the familiar sight was observed.
I should have approached from the north, but due to poor decisions on my part I ended walking about an additional 1.5km approaching from the east.
Must say it was nice to take a moment now and then to lookback of the distance travelled! It is quiet rewarding. The vehicles were insight and seeing my buddies in the distance was a real boost and I tried not to limp to much as I got closer. Box strapped a purple smoke generator to the flagpole and activated it as approached the finish line, for me it was a very personal achievement finishing the walk in a haze of smoke.
But the day was not finished: Box Had brought his 50 Cal Truvelo to the range and I was able to shoot 3 shots from 300m!
This followed by some cold beers made it an awesome day: think about it, in which country can you walk 27km without trespassing and do some shooting and then have some cold beers?
My cell phone battery died after about 6 hours and I could not find the re-charging cable.
I had about a mouthful of water left out of two litres. Whilst I had urinated earlier in the day, once I was well underway I had no water left to pass as my body was sweating it out.
My knowledge of the route/area gave me confidence in taking shortcuts.
Comms worked well and I am certain that I could have communicated with any other licenced amateur should the need have arisen.
Some of the gear in my bag was perhaps superfluous for this walk, however, if I ever had to do the real thing (Next challenge) it might just come in handy, so no major gear changes for me.
Get fitter…..its always on my to do list: If I could sell it in a pill form I would not need to win the lotto. There is no substitute for staying in shape and there are no short cuts either.
We at TheQuarterMasters has
some interesting customers,
Some a lot more interesting than others though.
I usually give another Man/Women (Insert gender appropriate noun, verb or adjective) their due when they tell a tall tale. Perhaps this is a weakness of mine which may be defined as naivety, however I have heard some real interesting stories, and, I love good stories; who doesn’t?
Below are some stories that I recall from customers, obviously for OPSEC* reasons I will not identify the customer or betray their confidence. So, if I am vague on details it’s either to protect the privacy of my valued customer, the fact that my memory is not what it should be or maybe I had to embellish it like a fisherman.
The customer (A white bloke/European/Settler/Colonialist…..you know what to do here) had bought a tract of land in an African Country. It’s a rough place where one has to build up and construct everything oneself and, much like living on a wild frontier, the law is pretty much in the hands of those who are prepared to use violence. It requires time, money and fortitude that only living in Africa can bring. He had discovered our shop paging through Popular Mechanics Magazine and popped in to get Water Filtration supplies.
We got on to the usual stories of how “Africa is not for sissies” and he told me when he was introduced to the local Police Captain in the area he had bought the land, the captain was introduced by name followed by the statement that he (the captain) had 5 kills! On further investigation he found out that the local law enforcement, (I am sure the term was being used loosely) would more often than not settle matter permanently when dealing with criminals. If a gang of thieves was suspected in crime, anyone associated with them better have good running shoes.
When I enquired of the customer about firearms in his local African country he mentioned that he was actually in their version of the military reserve and had been issued and Kalashnikov a couple of mags and rank too boot!
In discussion with another customer about travels through Africa the discussion turned to the Chinese and how they seem to be everywhere, from road constructions in Lesotho, to wanting to build a prison for Chinese convicts in Namibia. (Apparently the Namibians rejected this).
He told me that in his travels through the Congo he found himself on a road in the middle of deepest darkest remote Congo and the only other soul that he saw after a day or so of travelling was a Chinese national who had a rudimentary tent set up as accommodation and even more antiquated smelter that looked like it was pre-industrial revolution in technology.
This man would be seated at his tent and the local Congolese would bring him lumps of copper ore to smelt down. He would pay or barter for the lumps and apparently once every now and then other Chinese would then collect the smelted ore for which was then shipped off to who only knows where.
I personally have heard of stories where individuals who have fallen afoul of the authorities (of that particular country) are sent to other destinations. The condition is that they will work and stay there until they die and their family derive some form of income from it in the process. How true this is I can only speculate. Either way it is a grim.
This customer: A member of a community police responds to an armed robbery on a farm. Arriving on scene he assists the female victims untie themselves and starts to post BOLO for the attackers.
His sixth sense tells him that all is not well on the scene. He takes his binoculars and scans the surrounding veld and kopjes. His blood runs cold: someone is observing them from a distance on the side of a kopje. He leaves via a circuitous route and approaches from behind.
He manages to startle 11 individuals who are lying prone watching the farmhouse.
They all now run off. After a few moments he encourages them to stop and restrains them all. No mean feat when you are on your own. Amongst them is the usual assortment of knives, panga’s clubs.
It turns out that they were not linked with the armed robbery but, were kids that had been either kidnapped or coerced into attending an initiation school. For some reason the initiation school was atop the kopje
These (Illegal) initiation schools (Yes there are legal initiation schools) are notorious for the manner in which they operate. Performing circumsion’s with rusty blades and generally not looking out for the welfare of abafana (boys) who attend them. Mostly they are cold, hungry and sick at the end of it.
Some of these kids were clearly in pain and in one or two infection had set in. (Reason #1 why to pack protective gloves) the ambulance and the police were summoned, and after many hours eventually arrived and took the boys into custody. Turns out that 4 of the boys had been reported missing to the local police.
Apparently boys are coerced through peer pressure to attend, often running away from home, or, the parent are threatened that a hex or curse will be placed on them should they not allow their sons to attend, or, a combination where the kids are taken and the parent have to pay a ransom, if not face the fact that either they or their children will be bewitched.
At this point you can imagine that the parents will not be approaching the police reluctantly or not at all.
And so endeth the stories, pop onto TheQuarterMaster if you need gear to survive and thrive in Africa, and share a tale if you have. How true or accurate the above stories are I, like you can only speculate, but at least we know to have a pinch of salt close at hand
*OPSEC: Operational Security because personal privacy does not sound nearly as cool or tactical.
It is a cold and dark winter’s night on the Highveld.
I am about 35km south of Jhb Central. A good friend and I have been maintaining a set of beehives we have at our shooting range. It is an extremely rewarding hobby. Best done in the dark with the use of red headlamps and the correct attire. (Nonetheless I have been stung a few times, more about that later)
As is tradition we end the nights work with a beer. As cold as it is you actually get quite hot in the bee suit and stink of smoke. I was wearing a Khaki coloured type Buff to keep my head warm and the hair out of my eyes whilst working.
We waited for another friend to arrive, however he said he would pop around later as he had issues with one of his lambs……
We pack away our gear and share out some of the honey comb for later consumption.
I am carrying my G17 in an OWB Daniels holster, on my back seat is my semi-auto shotgun. To say that the area was incident free would be farcical. Our range has been subject to numerous burglaries and the neighboring farmer has been in more than 2 gunfights which have resulted in fatalities.
I leave the range as per our usual route.
At the point where the dirt road ends and the tar road begins the story get interesting.
Traffic is pretty heavy and the tar road is narrow I wait for a gap to pull onto the road, when suddenly I see an oncoming car pull off and stop in a flurry of dust about 5 meters from me. For a second or two I think it is our friend who was delayed, but I do not recognise the shape of the vehicle.
Its lights are in my eyes and not recognizing the vehicle. I throw the car into reverse and flip my lights on to bright and light up a White Ford Ranger, unmarked, with a canopy. The others car hazard lights come on. I see what looks like a uniform. I too put my hazards on and dip my lights and then exit my car. Quickly. (No I could not pull onto the Tar road due the traffic)
I am extremely jumpy. I step to the side of my vehicle and 5 police officers approach me in a extended line one of them identifies himself by his name and that he is from SAPS. He is more to the right of the other cops. My mind is racing. I have read too many stories of fake cops.
One cop has a 870, another an R5 or R6 the rest have pistols.
The cop approaches me and asks if I have firearms in the car.
My alarm bells are ringing. I truly am expecting the worst.
Against my will I reply that I have one on my hip. I cannot remember the exact sequence of events, I think he reached for it first. I said to him I would take it out of the holster and hand it to him. He said no he would take it.
I again insisted that I would do so and he said “No!” stood behind me (My arms were partially raised) and lifted it out of the holster. Honestly I thought I was going to be shot. I twisted around to monitor him with my gun. He unloaded it and looked at the hollow points.
Without the use of expletives: Being disarmed is a really bad sinking feeling!
He asked for my licence and I said to them that I was reaching for my wallet. After some digging in my wallet I found my licence and handed it to him (My reading glasses are in the vehicle)
He remains behind me stooping into the beams of the headlights, so that he can try match the numbers. He declares that it is not the correct licence. I am more than scared and jumpy at this point. I ask/tell the cops that I am reaching into my pocket for my EDC torch.
I cannot remember if I hand over the torch or if I light up the licence and the pistol. After a while the officer acknowledges that the pistol matches the licence.
Somehow I notice that he is displaying a lot of interest in my “Hollow Points” (Can guess what is coming……?)
I am then told that the HP’s are illegal. I honestly cannot believe what I am hearing. This is the stuff that I have read about and other unfortunate souls have experienced, yet now it is happening to me!
At this point psychologically I have had enough, and get an idea that perhaps the cops are perhaps who or what they say they are: SAPS on patrol.
I then quite firmly explain to them that HP are not illegal for civilians, but that they are for SAPS. I add that it is quite sad as it denies SAPS the tool to deal with shootouts. After a few minutes of “Hollow points are legal/ Hollow points are illegal” I must have convinced the 5 of them as my GLOCK is handed back, slide locked back, mag out minus the chambered round.
For some reason I do not load up immediately: Prudence or stupidity?
Then I am told that my OWB holster has to be in IWB holster. Again irritated but a bit more confident that I am not going to be shot I inform that the GLOCK has to be covered not concealed and that a jersey covering the holster and the GLOCK are sufficient to meet the FCA.
They accept this.
I am then questioned as the retention of the holster. I demonstrate by raising and lowering the GLOCK in holster hearing the comforting sound of kydex on it.
It is then agreed that the holster does retain correctly.
I am then accused of being under the influence. I again state that I had told them earlier that I had consumed a beer when they had asked me.
Then I am accused of handling a firearm whilst under the influence, again I reply that I am not under the influence AND if I did handle the firearm it was under their instruction AND that I was the one who had pointed out that I had gun on my hip when they had asked about guns in my car. I emphasis that I have co-operated with them throughout.
This carries on for a while and I say that if they are convinced of this they must do what they must do.
I also encourage them to contact some of the local Community Police who could confirm my story as to my identity and what I was doing at the time.
After what feels like minute of silence the policeman who appeared in charge and had disarmed me said “Ok” and said I could go. Feeling relived I invited them to look at some of the honeycomb in the rear of my car (Stupid/unnecessary in hindsight.) They had a look and then seemed even more satisfied with my story.
4 of the 5 Policeman (2 Females and 3 Males) walk back to their vehicle. One of the males came back and told me that he had lost his torch. He had spotted my headlamp lying near the honey in my boot.
To be honest, I said he could take it.
So….the results for me where:
1. I was badly shaken.
2. The loss of 1 HP and the headlamp.
I have a bit more to say on the subject since the time has elapsed, however I might say it in a different thread, suffice to say I am posting this that you may learn from it.
As from my perspective it could have gone very very wrong.
(No doubt my perception of the SAPS did nothing to help my cause. However I do not believe it be un-justified. However in life that is how it goes, we will always be victims of our stereotypes whether they are informed or not.)
I intend to post this on other internet forums for the reasons stated above.
If the story can be told
from the cops perspective.
They stopped a vehicle in an area that has presently seen lots of crime. Possibly they linked my vehicle to the farmer who owns the same vehicle. The time of night was also "dodgy hour" during a weeknight and an officer did identify himself.
The way they stopped de-bussed from the vehicle and fanned out was also correct if they were in fact looking for a suspect?
The officer also disarmed me, without pointing me etc. Would you let a suspect touch his hand over his own gun?
All well and good so far.
Bottom line: From my perspective is that because of MY perception of the police and the fact the general violent crime rate my nerves were strung out! Obviously the police cannot (yet) read our minds yet this would have played a massive role in my fight or flight response.
Looking back two parts of the initial encounter stand out for me:
When the police vehicle stopped its hazard lights came on. If it was a deception it was a good one as it gave me pause as to my next action.
When I saw a figure dressed in blue after exiting the vehicle this gave me further pause as to whether this was an attack or not.
From then on it was (as previously stated) my perception of the SAPS that kept my nerves taught.
Except for unmarked vehicle and the ignorance of the law on the questions mentioned, the Cops did everything right.
My loss of trust in the SAPS could have been fatal. This is the point of this post.
Do not become a victim of your stereotypes or perception.
I nearly was.
As most of our customers are aware: TacQM used to host their online shop with Shopify.
Towards the end of Feb 2019, Shopify decided that they hated the idea that TacQM sold things like magazines that held more than 10 rounds, or pocket knives, or stuff to clean cartridges with and de-platformed the entire store.
There was discussion as to whether they should capitulate and remove items from the store which are perfectly legal in the country in which they are sold.
Actually no. TacQM was built on honour and credibility and they weren’t going to backtrack on their integrity, so balls to the wall, they decided to build a brand new platform that they could continue selling good gear to the good guys, with no snow-flakery involved.
They also saw this as an opportunity to re-brand the business. The word ‘Tactical’ has lost much of it’s original intent and seems to infer 'tacticool' more than tried and tested gear now days.
So the thinking caps went on again and ideas were played with. The one idea that never changed was that the business was indeed still a form of QuarterMaster store. They don’t just do tactical, or gun stuff, but the store caters for the offroader, the camper, the hiker, the outdoors-man, and yes the gun enthusiast, hunter and security operator.
It says exactly what they are, what they do, and what they stand for; Great Gear for the Good Guys!