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Schuetzen: The Purest Form Of Competitive Shooting

By Scott W. Elliott
Arizona Schuetzenverein

Elaborately fitted stocks and beautifully finished rifles are hallmarks of Schuetzen rifles

Elaborately fitted stocks and beautifully finished rifles are hallmarks of Schuetzen rifles

The shooting discipline known as Schuetzen came to America with German immigrants. Schuetzen has seen multiple eras of popularity in The United States and has maintained a very dedicated following. The first era of popularity was between the Civil War and World War I. During this time large matches were held in cities such as New York and San Francisco on a scale comparable to a professional sporting event today with many spectators in attendance. The second era of popularity took place circa 1982 through 1993. At this time the Coors brewing company loaned corporate support and held matches in Golden, Colorado attracting shooters from the all over the United States and Worldwide. Schuetzen is beginning to attract a new generation of shooters. This may be attributed to the evolution of the sport which has a growing interest in the bench rest events and continued interest in off-hand shooting.

25-Ring Target

25-Ring Target

Broken down, Schuetzen just may very well be the purest form of rifle shooting there is. It is performed with a single shot rifle and the practitioner is striving for precise shot placement into the bull’s-eye of a 25 ring target at 200 yards. To achieve this high level of precision participants in Schuetzen events most often breech seat plain based cast lead bullets.

Breech seating is the practice of seating the projectile into the rifling so that the base of the bullet engages the rifling. The bullet is never placed in the case. After the projectile is seated the charged case is then inserted into the action of the rifle. Under most circumstances there is a 1/16 inch gap between the case and bullet. Some shooters will place cotton or flannel in the case to prevent spillage of powder while others will not. This practice often results in extreme accuracy and precision. For example sub .5 MOA can be achieved at 200 yards with 10 shots. In 1901 C.W. Rowland shot a record group of .722” inches for 10 shots at 200 yards. This was shot with a 32-40 and this record stood for over 100 years! The current “Rowland Group” record (which is just informal recognition, not an ASSRA record) is .577″. These magnificent 10 shots were fired by Jan Pritchard on February 1, 2012.  Pritchard utilized the 32-20 Shuttleworth cartridge to achieve this level of accuracy.

Fine sights are a must on the 200-yard line.

Fine sights are a must on the 200-yard line.

Breech seating was originally done from the muzzle end of the barrel. This was done with a false muzzle at the end of the barrel to ensure the bullet was straight in alignment. Today, there are breech seating tools available which will seat the bullet from the breech rather than the muzzle. The tool can work like a plugged case, a lever or like a plunger that pushes the bullet into the rifling. In many cases the breech seating tools are designed for a specific type of single shot action such as a Ballard, Stevens 44 ½ or Winchester 1885 respectively.

carving72The above information only serves as an introduction to Schuetzen and breech seating. Many books and resources are currently available in print and online. The author urges those interested to check out the following; The American Single Shot Rifle Association (www.assra.com), The International Single Shot Association (www.issa-schuetzen.org), Wyoming Schuetzen Union (wyomingschuetzenunion.com) and author Randy Wright (http://www.wrightgalleries.com/bookgallery.html)

In closing, Schuetzen has a rich history and bright future. If you are interested in accuracy and rifles which could be deemed a work of art, then Schuetzen could be the shooting discipline for you.

  • Scott W. Elliott, Arizona Schuetzenverein

engrave72