What is SFC Defence Academy?

SFC Defence Academy was born out of the urge to bolster the talents of young men. The military, and more specifically its fighting component, teach one how to tackle life. This career was thus much sought after, and a fast-paced career development process followed. The idea of being a soldier was a dream come true for many a young boy watching the local teenagers returning now and then from the border in their neatly ironed ‘browns’.

Changing military talent into something helpful quickly followed, and therefore the hope to transform it into a new direction to save life, rather than taking it. So, the driving force was, and still is, mainly to teach people self-protection. Violence in the hands of a good man inevitably saves lives …

In 2007, myself and the late JJ Marè started a business then known as SOC Survival Training. At first it offered survival and adventure-orientated leadership and team-building training that was extremely valuable to the local schools in the area. It had very little revenue and resources but used what it had to its best capabilities, for example, in terms of its experience and human skills. Numerous unforeseen circumstances saw the two friends end up in different parts of the country.

Precision Shooting
JJ carried on with the business in the Ceres area. With my assistance, he designed new courses and functions within the shooting industry specifically regarding precision shooting. We soon recognised that the shooting industry was too broad for one person to concentrate on everything or both simultaneously.

The demand for effective training grew rapidly in the areas they worked. The gentleman’s agreement was that each would identify and develop his field of expertise, providing a specialist service with one covering the long-range and precision subjects and the other the tactical and self-defence side.

My Own Venture
So, I started my own venture, known today as the SFC Defence Academy. I started to get the academy’s structure in order by initially presenting accredited training, also known as proficiency or competency training, and then developing courses within the tactical and self-defence environment due to my abundant experience.

We had the dream of reuniting at the age of 50, as we are almost the same age. Unfortunately, JJ passed away in Jan 2021. JJ’s family requested me to take over the business side, known on social media as Western Cape Precision Rifleman (WCPR). WCPR is now systematically and fully incorporated into the SFC Defence Academy.

National Service
I matriculated in 1991 from the Technical High School Daniël Pienaar in Uitenhage. I commenced with my national military service and met JJ for the first time as my platoon commander. So, yes, our first meeting was one Thursday evening in May 1992 when JJ returned early from the Special Forces selection process due to too many rugby injuries in his knees, ankles, and shoulders.

Those who knew him will remember the importance rugby held for him. He addressed the platoon, looking for the ‘naughty bunch’ he had only heard of. Myself and two close school friends were still on course in room three of 21. He gave the three an ‘oppie’ (military slang for getting extra physical training with or without any reason) and said they must remember his name, as he was in charge here … always to much laughter many years later.

Advanced and Tactical Training
The SFC Defence Academy started in Oudtshoorn and is now providing advanced and tactical-related training. The tactical training is divided into different skill levels. Handgun/Shotgun/Self-loading rifle 101(Level 1) is the first course attended by a new firearm owner to reinforce the correct basics into muscle memory. Advanced Handgun/Shotgun/Self-loading rifle (Level 2) is advanced, including but not limited to dynamic movement, different shooting positions, and an introduction to night shooting. Individual Tactical (Level 3) is an individual course, introducing the students to vehicle dynamics and house clearance on a one instructor, one student base.

Small Team Tactics (Level 4) is mostly team orientated tactical training. The training content is supplemented by the experience of the instructors in military or police special forces and special infantry combat environments. These courses focus a lot on psychological preparation, criminology, specific results-orientated skillsets and the correct gear.

New Techniques
New techniques are being developed, known as Level 5 rural and urban operations training, and Level 6 training for team leaders. These courses can be tailor-made for civilians, military, and law enforcement applications. The above training is conducted with a pistol, shotgun, and self-loading rifle.

The long range and precision shooting training is conducted at different levels as well. The first is an Introduction to Precision Shooting (300 m), Module 2: Advanced Marksmanship (1 000 m), Module 3: Elite Marksmanship (1 400 m plus) and further courses developed for military and law enforcement applications. Supportive training for the above-mentioned options is also available such as fighting injured, navigation, surveillance, and a whole lot of other valuable skills.

11 Years’ Military Service
I served in the military for 11 years, with my specialty being reconnaissance and support weapon functions and applications. I also took part in developing more results-orientated training methods during my stint at the Research and Development (R&D) wing of the Infantry School. I was involved in projects to test and evaluate the first introduction of the 20 mm NTW anti-material sniper rifle system, the CR21 assault rifle project, the SS77 light machine gun project and reintroducing next-generation pistol training into the military.

As a result of the R&D, musketry coaching courses were presented to the already permanent force instructors of the army to further develop their skills and experience in presenting effective marksmanship training. The R&D of the current infantry sniper and designated marksman courses programs was also part of my duties. Unfortunately, the end results were launched only in 2004. I resigned from my military position with the rank of Captain after serving my final three years in a Special Forces unit as Operational Coordination and Control for the first Rapid Reaction Force deployed since the border war in Burundi in 2003.

Peacekeeping Operations
I took part in numerous peacekeeping operations in the then Bophuthatswana and Pretoria before, during, and after the 1994 elections. I was involved in the 1998 conflict between the Lesotho Defence Forces and the governing body. During the last part of my career, I took part in numerous Special Forces operations.

SFC Defence Academy operates out of Oudtshoorn on the Kmdt Gideon Scheepers Shooting Range but can also travel to destinations not further than 450 km over weekends. If the opportunity arises, my instructors and I plan to go full time and present training globally and use the revenue to train civilians in South Africa at no cost at all.

Nico endorses On Target Africa magazine

By Nico van der Merwe

On Target Africa     Issue 51 July 2023

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