The Schuetzen Rifle shooters keep alive
a German Schuetzen tradition going back to before the Civil War.
While this style of shooting started
with muzzle loading caplock rifles, the rifles used today are the single
shot cartridge rifles made from about 1865 to 1915; modern reproductions
of those rifles, original German and Swiss schuetzen rifles and
In competition only single shot
non-bolt-action rifles are allowed.
The original rifles include the
Remington Rolling Block and Hepburn, Stevens 44 1/2 and 44, Ballard,
Sharps original falling block and Borchardt, 1885 Winchester "Low Wall"
and "High Wall"; and that wonderful triumph of engineering and
rifle-makers skill-the Maynard.
Reproductions of most of these original
rifles have been made in the past or are being made now, here in the USA
or abroad. The Italian makers produce some quite nice rifles.
The original German schuetzen rifles
are primarily rifles brought back to the USA by soldiers after the Second
war. These are frequently elaborately carved and finished rifles with big
The Swiss rifles include the USA 1930
Hammerli 30/06 "Team Rifles" and other rifles of that general design.
Newly-designed rifles include the Ruger
No. 1 or No. 3, Peregrine, Hoch, deHaas-Miller and New England
The deHaas-Miller action was designed
by Frank deHaas, author of "Single Shot Rifles And Actions" and other
books. The design was perfected and put into production by Dean Miller.
The design and or tooling has now been sold to Dakota Arms. The deHaas-Miller
actioned rifles own the benchrest single shot game today, 2006.
New England Firearms/H&R
rifles.are inexpensive but well made and very accurate modifications of an
original single shot break open shotgun design. These guns are marvelous
and allow shooters to get started in the single shot game without having
to sell any cattle.
Cartridges start with the 32/40, the
most popular chambering for the old-time rifles. Then there are the 38/55,
33/40, 28/30 and 25/20 to round out the most often seen original American
cartridges. The German Schuetzen rifles are predominantly chambered for
the 8.15 X 46R. Modern cartridges include the 32 Miller Short and it's
brethren, small cartridge cases made from the 357 Magnum or Maximum.
Bullets are lead alloy with plain
bases-no gas checks are allowed in competition.
There are two national associations,
the ASSRA = American Single Shot Rifle Association and the ISSA =
International Single Shot Association. The ASSRA is sort of the eastern
organization, with the home range at Etna Green/Warsaw Indiana. The ISSA
is sort of the western organization, with the big-time matches held at the
NRA Whittington Center range
in Raton NM. The
ISSA matches at Raton are a continuation of the Coors matches held in
Golden, Colorado starting in 1982.
The Wyoming Scheutzen Union (WSU) is
another association that centers more on black powder and traditional
There are also many local associations
such as the Western New York Schuetzen Society and the Massachusetts
Schuetzen Society, founded by Don Spalding as I watched.
Matches vary from range to range,
association to association. There are offhand = standing up matches and
benchrest matches, shot at 200 yards or 100 yards or 50 or 25 yards for
rimfire rifles,one or three or five or ten or twenty or one hundred shots,
re-entry = buy another target and try again, and again, and again; or
single entry. Some shooters take hours to shoot one five or ten shot
target-waiting out the conditions.
There are centerfire and rimfire
matches, cross sticks with a buffalo rifle matches, matches where you
shoot at a lovely wooden eagle target. You name it, somewhere they shoot
There was a guy at the Fairfax club who
shot 200 yard 22 rimfire groups that were truly amazing.
The local associations run matches as
they see fit. The Florida matches have only one re-entry;
Offhand and benchrest-for-score matches
are shot on the German Ring Target-see the picture courtesy of Chris
Jens. The 200 yard version of this target has a 25 ring 1.5" in diameter.
The 24 ring is 3" diameter, 23 ring 4.5" diameter, and so on. Offhand and
benchrest-for-score targets for other ranges are scaled proportionately.
There are targets printed in black, others in red-the red makes it easier
to see the holes. Either black or red, the German Ring Target is very
"busy", with lots of numbers printed on it.
The ASSRA matches are pretty laid back.
Shooters come early to a typical Saturday and Sunday match, stake a claim
to a bench, set up their equipment, and begin to schmooze. There's a lot
of talking and visiting and buying and selling going on. Most of the
shooters are older guys who shoot bench rest only-offhand shooters are in
the minority. Many shooters will work on a few re-entry matches for the
two days, paying for and shooting a lot of targets; waiting for the magic
There's little or no pressure, plenty
of help if you need it (or even if you don't), and more advice than you
The visiting adviser often starts the
conversation with: I see that you are using the thus-and-such rifle (or
sight or powder or bullet or bench rest or primer or shoes or...). I
suppose that it is
to shoot well with the thus-and-such, however nobody has ever done so to
This is intended to boost your
confidence and make you comfortable at the match.
I don't know how the ISSA matches work,
but suspect that they are a bit more formal. Assigned benches/positions,
certain matches starting at a certain time, and so on. That's how it was
at Coors in 1983 and 1984.
I'm sure that there's plenty of advice
available at the ISSA matches.
Go to a match and you will be welcomed
and made to feel at home. You'll like it.