Book Review by Richard Hummel
Alte Scheibenwaffen: Old German Target Arms, Volume 1,1860-1940 by Jesse Thompson, C. Ron Dillon, Alien Hallock. Bill Loos, and Compiled by Tom Rowe. Rowe Publications, Maynardville. TN. 1999. 388 pp. ISBN 0-9707608-3-3. $98.00. Also available from the GGCA.
This book embodies the guiding principle of the GGCA: share what you know with those of us who want to know more! Tom Rowe deserves our profound appreciation for organizing this group of serious students and collectors of German target arms and producing a ground-breaking study of the German schuetzen movement and its arms and accoutrements. Tom and his team have traveled to Germany several times seeking specimens to photograph and to record their vital statistics. The enormous amount of data discovered and accumulated caused this book to grow from one to three (current projections) volumes. The authors freely shared their collections and knowledge and found other owners of these magnificent arms and accessories who were willing to allow lavish photographic studies of their holdings to be included in the volume.
Jesse Thompson's original research and writing on these topics provided the launch pad for this project, which motivated the authors to follow up the important topics. Thus. the one planned volume has grown to three.
The first two sections of the text provide the first English-language history of the German schuetzen movement. These sections describe the beginnings of the movement: the initial growth as the result of community militias who organized fests to encourage target practice and reward participants who performed at high levels. The continuity of the schuetzen game was interrupted by the hard times for target shooting clubs after the 30-year War (1618-1648). Rebirth of schuetzen clubs coincided with increasing stirrings of nationalistic longings for German unification.
The Duke of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha exemplified members of the nobility who sponsored efforts to organize a nation-wide union of shooting clubs. (His family castle and fabulous arms collection are part of the itinerary of the 2003 GGCA European Arms Tour.) This notable, brother of Prince Albert, the husband of England's Queen Victoria, sponsored the 1861 convention at Gotha to form the Deutsches Schuetzenbund.
Gorgeous specimens of percussion schuetzen rifles from that genesis period appear in the book.
Section 2 describes subsequent shooting festivals of the Schuetzenbund, held every 3 years from 1862 to 1934.
Pictures, prizes, newspaper articles, festival programs, and other memorabilia of each festival are pictured from the collec-
tions of the authors and other resources. This history offers an ordered picture of the schuetzen movement in Germany,
never before accomplished in any earlier reference such as Braun or Lugs. Section three describes one target-shooting form, the bird-shoot (vogelschiessen), which generated its own style of firearms. Several varieties and their ammunition are pictured.
Section four begins the alphabetical presentation of German Schuetzen rifle action types, beginning with the most popular and numerous form, the System Aydt. Its development and production history is described as well as the later variations (3-types). A generous gallery of gorgeous Aydts are pictured page after page in glowing color with close range studies of their engraving patterns. The book ends this tantalizing introduction to the German schuetzen action types with a thorough discussion and pictorial review of the Buchel firm's products. (The Bornmuller action is sandwiched in before the Buchel.) Ten varieties of Buchel actions are introduced to our greedy eyes. And then this first volume ends! Abundant hints of topics in volumes 2 and 3 are scattered throughout the text. I hope our wait for the next installment(s) will be mercifully short!
In sum, and at the risk of repeating myself, this book is splendid. The photography is generally stunning, some captions being slightly difficult to discern superimposed on the colored picture backgrounds. The authors take us beyond any previous level of understanding of this topic while freely admitting their own limits of understanding and discovery. Each topic illuminated suggests more questions to be answered. This volume and its later (sooner, we hope) companions are the cutting edge of information on this topic, not the end but a brilliant beginning to an intriguing journey of discovery. Thank you Tom Rowe and friends! Please continue and complete this superb work!
B049 - Alte Scheibenwaffen, Vol. I
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