History and the here and now
According to a document, written on the 8th of June 1640 and found in 1928 in the Prussian state archives, the goal of the guild was to provide financial and physical help in case of damage to a house caused by fire. Also that every year the week after Pentecost, members will shoot at a colourful wooden bird and the winner will become the “Schützenkönig”, the King of the Guild for a year.
With the emergence of fire insurances in the mid of the 19th century, the concept of help in case of fires became obsolete, and the tradition of shooting at the bird became the main focus, as well as becoming the King of the Guild.
Duke Friedrich IV of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf awarded special privileges to the guild in 1697. These privileges were endorsed by every following ruler and were abolished with the end of the monarchy system in 1918. For over two centuries the guild was allowed to use the title of “Duke”, and from 1774 on “royal” priviliged Schützengilde. However, the guild in Brunswik rarely madeuse of that, only when it was deemed necessary.
Members and expansion
The most prominent members of the guild were the Ruler of the Dukedom of Schleswig-Gettorf, Duke Carl Friedrich (from 1728 to 1739) and his son Carl-Peter Ulrich (from 1729 to 1762), who was Czar Peter III of Russia for a year. Both became King of the Guild for a year in 1729/1759 respectively.
The shooting sport has been practiced in the Brunswiker Schützengilde with pistols and revolvers (small and large calibers) as well as rifles (small calibers) since 1930. After the shooting ranges were rebuilt in 1953 on the area at the Koppenpahler Teich in close proximity to the Nordmarksportfeld, the activity range has been increased with air pressure weapons and archery.
The male and female shooters participate with great success in national competitions including the German Championships. Of course the basic shooting sport without any competitions also has its place at the Brunswiker Schützengilde. The guild home was built in 1988 as a meeting point for its members and guests, not just for after doing sports, but also for traditional activities. And of course new guests are welcome to take a peek at the shooting sport, perhaps they’ll adopt it as their new hobby.
The guild today
The celebration is opened by a procession by the guild members towards the guild home at the Kopperpahler Teich in Kronshagen. After opening ceremonies, the shooting program begins. This shooting program includes shooting at the guild bird, which is one of the oldest traditions of the guild.
Shooting at the guild bird
The guild bird is made of wood. The goal is to shoot all of the 41 targets in order of the numbers displayed. Participants always shoot standing until they hit. Stake per shot is 1€.
All members that are eighteen years or older can participate. Depending on the part that is shot off of the bird, the shooter gets a badge or pin. The shooter who manages to shoot off the tail becomes the unofficial “Tail King” and the one to shoot off the torso becomes the King Shooter of the guild.
The King Shooter of the guild, and his or her spouse then become the Royal Couple for a year. This is emphasized by “greeting words” from the couple, which is a small written statement about the shooting.
International Kiel Week Shooting
After the traditional guild celebration, the “International Kiel Week Shooting” takes place at the guild location.
This is a competitive shooting between the international navy teams.
This tradition was started in 1911, when teams from the United States of America and Germany competed for the first time, and it has become part of the Kiel Week ever since. It started with two or three nations, while nowadays up to nine nations are participating in the competetition.