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GUNS Magazine May 2010 - Page 70
A GUNS MEDLEY • MATIAS TUGORES MARTORELL • They weren’t just bull’s-eyes. ll through the warmongering Middle Ages, marksman’s A associations meant to boost the defensive capacities of the small towns and cities spread all over Europe. members), and the bullets fired had to be perfectly spherical. The contestants When peace was restored, these shooting societies tussled for the coveted were reorganized to show their cohesion and selftitle “King of the reliance. Alongside these paramilitary associations Sharpshooters” within an enclosure adjoining sprung shooting guilds whose main object was the inn and the skittle leisure. In the 13th century, the motto of the Metz playing ground of the shooting society was “Ludimus non laedimus” (we host shooting society, play, we do not wound). generally off-limits to women. Surprisingly, Back then, to be a good shot more closely. As much as such prejudice didn’t commanded such respect that shooting contests, these prevent women from sharpshooters were regarded as gatherings occasionally “The Sun of Tittmoning” handling firearms, for all honorable citizens and worthy of sitting functioned as “marriage from 1666 is the oldest that. In 1648, the Ljubljana at the table of honor of the local inn. fairs” as well, as was the known target and depicts shooting society had, During the mid Middle Ages, as case in Oberbozen, now various forms of locomotion. among its 390 members, firearms came into being, the wreaths in northern Italy. Many Tittmoning Castle, Bavaria. no less than 143 women. at which archers and crossbowmen had of the targets exhibited The Schützenmeister so far shot their arrows were “filled in its rifle club display (the master of ceremony) in” with pieces of wood so the impacts matrimonial themes and love symbols. was the most conspicuous character of of the bullets sunk into them could be The competitors of these prestigious these contests. Dressed as a buffoon, he more easily seen. With the passing of competitions attended by many officiated as an umpire, a supervisor and time they began being decorated with distinguished guests, belonged to the a jester. In the course of the competition, simple painted motifs before evolving, upper crust and the intelligentsia. The a marker signaled the points of impact in the German-speaking world, into arms they used differed from those by of the bullets with a wooden spoon, little round pictures—true jewels, yet the military and hunters in that they closed them with small, numbered meant to be riddled with bullets! were equipped with mechanisms of wooden pegs, and gestured the score to Once a year in the Germanic higher precision and engraved and filled the marksman. empire, shooting competitions—the with gold and silver ornamentation to Shooting was first done on white Schützenfesten—were organized and such a degree they were out of reach of targets marked with concentric circles attended by the sharpshooters of a the middle classes. and a round black disc in the center. whole region. These meetings provided The sharpshooter was permitted The painted targets, which would the participants with the opportunity to use his own firearm only (though have been badly damaged by too of being acquainted with each other swapping was allowed between family many impacts, were put into place after the title of Schützenkönig (king of the sharpshooters) was awarded. Marksmanship in this particular case mattered little. It was an honor made to the best scorers of the contest to be allowed to “sign” these little pictures with a single bullet. In addition to a laurel wreath, the “king” was awarded prizes far from being inconsiderable, such as jewels, cash and live animals. He was furthermore exempted from taxes and duties for a whole year and could brew beer freely. Among the favors bestowed upon him was the right to wear on special occasions the “King’s Chain,” the most precious possession of the shooting society. It was made up of an impressive number of jewels, precious Often targets poked fun at hunters, such as this close up of a target now at Tittmoning Castle, stones and silver coins, escutcheons, depicting a hunter mounted on a cow with antlers as an early form of decoy. medallions, heraldic shields and trade 70 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MAY 2010 HistoRicAl tARGets