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Schuetzenfest '89: world championship single shot rifle match.

Schuetzenfest '89 World Championship Single Shot Rifle Match

Less than 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the Angeles Shooting Ranges located in San Fernando, California, was the host gun club for this gala event held over Memorial Day weekend.

The Angeles Shooting Range is one of the finest shooting facilities in Southern California with over 100 covered firing points. A newly installed Handgun Silhouette range along with training facilities for local law enforcement agencies, makes this range one of the busiest on the West Coast.

Although ammunition is for sale at the range, inventory is kept to a minimum, thereby deliberately not attempting to compete with local gun shops. For this reason, the Angeles Shooting Range is high on the list of "recommended places to shoot" by gun dealers.

For this world-class shoot, the list of sponsors contributing to this magnificent four-day shoot was impressive. Household names like Winchester, Thompson/Center, Savage, Lyman, Redfield, Pachmayr, Sturm Ruger and CCI/Speer/RCBS/Outers/Weaver and Leupold contributed both cash and merchandise to the impressive list of winners. Other major contributors were MTM, Budweiser, PMC, Tasco, Miller Life. Fort Knox, Bushnell, Simmons, Hollywood Tool and EMF. Other donors were Accurate Arms, American Arms, American Security Products, Break Free, B-Square, Buck Knives, Case Cutlery, Colorado Shooter's Supply, Creedmore Sports, C. Sharps Arms, Dixie Gun Works, Douglas Barrels, Forster Products, Guns & Ammo, Gun World, Hansen Cartridge, Hart Rifle Barrels, Hercules Powder, Hodgdon Powder, Hornady, Iver Johnson, Javelina, Lansky Sharpeners, National Gun Sales, Navy Arms, Nikon, Pelican Products, Penguin Industries, Pentax, PMC, Pony Express Gun Shop, Quinetics, Redding, Rifle Magazine, Safariland, Springfield Armory, Steiner Optics, Tasco, Timney, Tru-Square, WD-40, Weatherby, Westfield, Williams Gunsight, Zeiss Optics and Ziegel Engineering. Some of these manufacturers set up operational booths, displaying and demonstrating their products. Hands on use by spectators creates enthusiasm and potential local dealer sales. In total, there were over $12,000.00 worth of prizes and merchandise up for grabs.

Gun dealers throughout the United States greatly benefit from these specialized rifle matches. Why? There are about 14,000 competitors affiliated with the American Single Shot Association. During the spring and summer, there is a major match going on somewhere across our land. These single-shot rifle shooters are great good-will ambassadors - even in anti-gun territory. Many competitors dress in contemporary clothing, which include top hats, bowlers, and fancy vests. Their casual appearance, which dates back over 100 years, helps attract local media. Often, TV stations and newspapers will assign coverage to these shooting matches as they are distinctly early Americana. They are colorful, somewhat laid back, yet hotly contested between the aspirants.

All of this helps the local gun dealer in sales and possibly more important, image. This is truly one of shooting's sports that is purely target shooting. The rifle and equipment is not used - currently - for the taking of big-game. Even the most dedicated varmint hunter wouldn't use a 100-year old Ballard on prairie dogs. Unlike para-military weaponry, single-shot rifles do not carry the stigma associated with so-called "firepower."

The Schuetzenfest '89 World Championships was composed of 18 separate matches which included off-hand and benchrest positions. Both center-fire and .22 rimfire rifles were used with the following restrictions. All rifles must be single-shot variety, no bolt actions, hammer of hammerless, lead bullets, no gas checks, any sights (certain matches). Original Rifle: an unmodified rifle action of a design produced prior to 1915.

World-Class matches of this magnitude will bring out the finest shooters and theirhighly specialized equipment, which of course, produces very high scores. And, what makes these high scores even more astonishing is that many of these rifles date back to the 19th century! Only cast lead bullets can be used - sans gas checks - and the courses of fire range from standing on one's hind legs and firing 10-shot strings at 100 and 200 yards with iron sights! Other matches allow the use of any sighting arrangement with 16 to 24X scopes being the shooter's choice. There's a weight limit of 20 pounds, however, most rifles with sights average between 12 and 15 pounds.

Interestingly, these single-shot rifles are loaded a bit differently than one might imagine. First, the soft lead bullet is seated into the breech with the use of a special tool. The cartridge case is decapped and reprimed and a light load of 12 to 15 grains of powder is dumped into the casing. The case is then slipped into the breech behind the already seated bullet. This type of precision loading technique can produce astonishing accuracy from many of these century-old rifles.

Most of the center-fire rifles range from 30 to 40 caliber, with .32-40 or .33 being the favorites. Muzzle velocity is in the 12 to 1,500 fps range firing a 180 to 200-grain bullet. The .22 Long Rifle matches are the toughest, especially on a windy day where the flight of the bullet can often be deflected six inches at 100 yards and two feet at 200 yards. To win one of these matches takes years of learning how to "dope the wind," and reading "mirages."

Shooting events such as this Schuetzenfest usually appeal to a wide segment of interested spectators. And, there were many spectators drawn to this event just to see what a Schuetzenfest was all about. However, like most shooting events where paper punching is involved, spectators and other competitors do not know what's going on until after the shooting stops. There's no way to call the drama while a match is transpiring. Unlike horse or automobile racing, where the entire field can be seen at a glance, a Schuetzen rifle match is determined on the referee's scoring table - and often enlisting the use of calipers to determine the winner.

Even the targets used for Schuetzen rifle matches are unique. The "bullseye" is worth 25 points with scoring rings descending to 15 points. The 100-yard "bull" is only 3/4" in diameter and the 200-yard version is only 1.5" in diameter. This translates to a 3/4" minutes of angle.

Another interesting aspect of this rifle marksmanship game is re-entry. Certain matches allow the shooter to "buy back in" if he doesn't like his previously shot target, providing there's time to do so. There are one-shot matches, three shot matches, five shot matches and some require a string of 20 shots for completion of an event.

There were 212 entries vying for Gold, Silver and Bronze medals along with no less than ten rifles donated by Sturm, Ruger & Co., Savage Arms, C. Sharps, Thompson-Center and Weatherby. Handguns and a Pachmayr Dominator single-shot pistol were also up for grabs. There were a wide array of scopes both rifle and spotting, eagerly sought by all the entrants. The vast amount of accoutrements and accessories was staggering. Gift certificates abounded. The number of contributing sponsors was not only impressive but their generosity was the talk of the match. It was indeed refreshing to see how firearms industry manufacturers, distributors and even dealers put their full support into this unique shooting match. As an interesting sidelight, Ray Taylor, DJ for KHAY radio in Ventura, California solicited pledges for Muscular Dystrophy. Ray boasted that he could shoot a 200x250 during a segment of the match and his listeners called in with pledges ranging from .15 to $3.35 per point. Ray made good on his promise by shooting an excellent 209x250 which generated over $8,500.00 to be donated to the M/S Foundation. Despite all the anti-gun feeling in California recently, these pledges made from mostly non-shooters, was indeed encouraging.

Celebrity shooters help the pro-gun image. Those scheduled to appear were Gil Gerard, Paul Harper, Martin Kove, Anne Lockhart, Jock Mahoney, Gerald McRaney, Jameson Parker, Dennis Patrick, Lee Purcell, John Russell, Peter Sherayko, Dub Taylor, Mills Watson and members of the Los Angeles Raiders football team. This select group of dignitaries are not out for personal publicity, but instead are genuine gun owners and shooters who attend various matches throughout the country. Dub Taylor can be found at all types of shooting events, along with Gil Gerard, Jameson Parker and John Russell. When the smoke cleared, Paul Harper's sharp-shooting earned him the coveted Gold Medal. We salute and applaud these personalities for their special support.

What is the future of Schuetzenfests? Very bright. There's some talk about reviving "tavern shooting." During single-shot rifle shooting's hey-day of the late 1800s, many European countries led by Germany, hosted indoor .22 rifle events. These target-shooting matches were conducted much like today's bowling tournaments. Shooting points were "spotted" to those of shaky sights and often side bets between competitors were rather large. There were local shoots, regionals and right up through Nationals.

With all of today's restrictions, its doubtful that Schuetzen shooting could be as popular as it used to be. On the other hand, however, there are some gun dealers in the mid-west that are organizing regularly scheduled indoor matches. Local businesses are doanting prizes and merchandise to help maintain interest. This might be an excellent opportunity for gun dealers throughout the United States to band together and help promote a shooting sport that is seemingly "accepted" by the general public.

PHOTO : Many sponsors set up booths to display their wares.

PHOTO : The bullseye on a 100-yard target is only 3/4" in diameter. Scoring rings range from 15 to 25 points.

PHOTO : This beautiful Schuetzen rifle was built by its owner/shooter, Bo Clerke.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Publishers' Development Corporation
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Blatt, Art
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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