This traditional Swiss festival takes place in Zurich (“Züri” in Swiss German) every year before the day of repentance and prayer.  “S chnabäschiessä” (en.: Knabenschiessen) is held at the Albisgüetli firing range from Saturday to Monday during the second week of September. Much as the Sechseläuten is a fixed event in the Zurich “Fäschtkalender” the Knabenschiessen (en.: boy’s shooting competition) takes place every autumn. On the “Schüssmäntig” (en.: shoot monday) , most shops close at 1 pm, as the day is a public holiday in Zurich.  The Knabenschiessen draws thousands of Swiss “Johr für Johr” (en.: year for year) to the foot of the Uetliberg where they enjoy “guäti Stimmig” (en.: good mood) and fun activities.

The Traditional Shooting Event

The contemporary festival of Knabenschiessen was first held in 1899 and “Meitsche” (en.: girls) initially were not welcome to join the competition. This changed in 1991, where they were officially allowed to participate. Nowadays, all young people between 13 and 17 who either live or go to “Schuel” in the canton of Zurich may participate. The “Teilnahmäkostä” (en.: competition costs) are 12 Swiss francs and include ammunition and a Bratwurst.

History of the Knabenschiessen

Knabenschiessen in Zürich - Hier am Messestand
Knabenschiessen in Zurich – at a fair stall

As far as is known, the very first “Volksfäscht” (en.: fair) took place in the 17th century; 144 boys took part in the shooting competition on 20th September 1656. The venue for this festival changed many times over the centuries, but the tradition was able to “haltä” (en.: continued). In honour of the 700th birthday of the “Eidgnossäschaft” in 1991, girls were able to shoot for the first time. These days, girls and boys can win the titles of “Schützäkönig or Schützäkönigin” (en.: shooting king or queen) as well as the tidy sum of 5000 Swiss francs.

On these three “Feschttäg” (en.: festive day), the Zurich shooting club is, so to speak, on display in the “Schaufenschter” (en.: shop window). The club uses this attention to convey an understanding of the shooting sport to visitors from Zurich, Switzerland and even from other parts of the world.

Winners

The last five winners not only win prize money, they also are immortalised in the Hall of Fame on the official Knabenschiessen website. After five years, the winners join all other previous winners listed in the Walk of Fame.

This year’s winner, Niel Geiger won with 34 “Pünkt” (en.: points), enough points to “z loh” (en.: to leave) behind his competitors. It wasn’t his first attempt at winning the title, though; the 14 year old had already participated in the competition in 2015.  Unfortunately for him, he lost with 27 points to Maria Grieser from Meilen. She scored an “unglaublichä” (en.: unbeliveable) 35 points.

Would you like to know more about Swiss festivals and traditions? Click here for an article about them!

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The Zurich Knabenschiessen
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