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Prize shoot at new location on Sept. 23

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Linking the past to the present, the New Braunfels Schuetzen Verein (shooting club) will hold its prize shoot on September 23rd, thefirst time in its new location off of Hwy 46 (next to Dietz’s Rifle Range).According to President Bill Wimberley, prizes are for the best at 100 yards with an old or new .22 rifle.The NB Schuetzen Verein is perhaps the oldest shooting club in the US, going back to July 4, 1846, and continuing for the next 158 years.

According the the late Harold Adams, who wrote the Verein’s history in 1948, “most of the first 30 years have been lost to the fog of unwritten antiquity”. He states that vague and “meager relics of hearsay” describe events up to about 1880.
In its organizational stage, the Verein was composed of only single men over 17years, its proceedings were secret, and its purpose was probably to be on the order of Minute Men who might be called on in an emergency. Women were admitted as associate members in 1949.

Through some historically troubled times in the country’s history, shooting activities for pleasure and pastime never ceased to function. The Civil War was a time of lowest interest because most of the men were off to war and lead and powder were scarce. Adams says that from 1862 to 1864, five members were the most “mustered out to the range “{so that their anniversary could be observed. In those years, one could spare only two or three shots and the one having the best shot was declared the Schuetzen Koenig (Shooting King).

Then again in the Spanish-American War and World War I, activities were curtailed and during World War II a rifle training school for boys and young men was organized for which ammunition was granted by the War Production Board.

The crowning of the Schuetzen Koenig holds an exalted place in the club.The honor went to a member (in good standing) who shot closest to the center of the target. According to Adams “at times some spirited discussions have developed until the best center shot was determined due to apparent tie hits”. Can you picture it?. This year’s Koenig is Thomas Becker and now a Koenigen (queen) is crowned. She is Daneshu Clarke.

Prize shoots were held in the fall and that’s what’s coming up on the 23rd. Also, rest and offhand medals were going the rounds among the members until someone had won three years in succession. I was surprised to find my grandfather’s name (Louis Adams) as the winner of one of those medals.

Turkey and geese shoots were held around Thanksgiving and in the 1880s beef and mutton shoots were held. At these shoots the butcher evidently was present on the range and winners had their choice cuts butchered and prepared according to their score. The tail-end winners would take the hindmost, even down to the hide. Prizes varied over the years and in 1876 a horse was put up for first prize. There was also trapshooting (at a clay pigeon) and glass ball (like Annie Oakley did).

The Neu Braunfelser Zeitung July 6, 1855, states that Jim Calhoun became the king and the editor said it wasn’t any wonder, since most of the competitors were “practical hunters and everyday people”.The target was the iron circle having a small hole through the center and as Calhoun’s bullet passed through this hole, it tripped the well known “Bajazzo” (clown) behind the target causing it to jump up. This caused quite a stir.

The Verein bought its first land in 1882 and moved several times. Additional locations finally led to the present one under beautiful oak trees, reminiscent of the past…

The picture was taken in 1899 at the 50th Anniversary and shows Earnst Dosch, Hermann Seele, Eduard Krieger and Wilhelm Seekatz. The Schuetzen Verein is a good example of history repeating itself.

Early Schuetzen Verein members, 1899.