Swiss rifles were coveted during the American revolutionary and civil wars. Today they’re used for fun by the Swiss Rifle Club of Minneapolis.
In the late 1980s, a group of Swiss expats living in Minnesota – all employed by food technology company Bühlerexternal link – decided to form a shooting club to maintain a tradition from the homeland.
They made a deal with a local club willing to share its facilities, and got the green light from the Swiss military, which continues to supply the guns and bullets.
In late 1991, the club received its first batch of gear: ten rifles, five pistols, ammunition and other equipment; they were able to start shooting in 1992.
Since then they’ve participated in various Swiss marksmanship competitions each year – mostly remotely. Since 1995 they’ve also sent representatives to compete at the national Swiss shooting championships. They compete against North American clubs, too.
In Swiss competitions, it’s not just about winning first, second or third place. Medals are also awarded for long-term, consistent participation.
Most members of the Swiss Rifle Club are Swiss or of Swiss descent, but it’s not a requirement. In fact, the first club member to win a medal was an American who travelled to Thun in 1995.
Today, most members are over 50. The youngest ones are in their 20s, and are the grandchildren of the founding members.
Rangemaster Patrick Fischer, originally from Thurgau, has lived in the US for 30 years. While swissinfo.ch was visiting, he also participated in this roundtable about Swiss living abroad.
Co-founder Karl Staubli talks more about politics here: