History, heritage and a new rimfire hobby
Have you ever done something slightly out of your comfort zone? Something even different from your beliefs?
The first time you try it, it’s uncomfortable and maybe you never do it again. Or maybe, you find out you like it.
It’s like getting a child to try a new food. You work hard to convince them ice cream is good and they slowly bring the spoon closer and closer until they taste it.
Growing up, my family didn’t own guns. We never went hunting and lived in a safe enough area that personal protection wasn’t a worry.
Moving to Texas, I had a new perspective on firearms, shooting a pistol the first time I met Seth’s great-uncle, Danny and late aunt, Alma Jean. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.)
As I got to know the Moellering family, I was introduced to the Schuetzenfest, a shooting event featuring long-barreled rimfire and centerfire rifles.
The Schuetzenfest is the second-longest running community event, after the Gillespie County Fair. Typically, Das Vorschuetzenfest or “the before shoot” is held the third weekend in July, and two weeks later, around the full moon, Das Bundesfest or “the big shoot” is held.
This year, marks the 123rd event and the third time I will be shooting a .22 long-range rifle. The Moellering family has been participating since 1890.
It was through this that I learned about guns and felt safe, in spite of being surrounded by about 100 rifles that are much taller than me.
Having never shot a rifle, I have relied on the teachings of Alton and Danny, Seth’s grandfather and great-uncle, respectively, and have spent evenings at the family ranch range.
It has allowed me to spend time with two great men who started their Schuetzenfest careers as target pointers at age eight and later as participants in the 1960s.
Because the Schuetzenfest has been going on for so long, some of these rifles have been around just as long.
One of the family rifles that Seth shoots was owned by W.H. Moellering and later passed on to Harvey Moellering and then to Danny. That gun won three Schuetzenkoenige (shooting king) titles.
Due to the firm belief that no two people shoot the same, Danny has been adamant about making sure everyone has a rifle to shoot.
The rifle I am shooting was likely manufactured prior to World War II as a .38-55 rifle. It was later converted into a .22 rifle.
Danny bought it from the late Arthur Ahrens in the 1960s. The highest he ever shot on it was an 89, enough for second place in 1977.
Alton tells stories of how his dad, Harvey, wore a woolen suit in the July heat to compete. Can you imagine wearing a woolen suit in 100-degree temperatures? Thank goodness for dry-fit clothing.
In the summer of 2016, Seth’s grandfather, Alton, convinced me to shoot a few shots during the annual fest. Little did I know that I would actually enjoy it and now have become a regular participant.
At the most recent Vorfest, I shot a 52 out of 60, and landed in the top five rimfire shooters. I also beat the entire Moellering clan. (Humble brag.)
Participating in these events has been a great way to learn the family history. I see how much Alton and Danny care about their heritage. They like to do things the same way they did in the 1960s, minus the woolen suits. They share stories and share history.
I am likely one of a few women shooters from the family. I also have connected with other German families who have been participating for decades.
If you haven’t experienced the Schuetzenfest, I encourage you to come out to the Bear Creek Shooting Range on Saturday or Sunday and see for yourself.
Listen to the sounds of old guns firing, and authentic German tongue.
Watch as the Schuetzenkoenige is lifted into the air with sounds of Oompah music playing.
And maybe, one day that will be me.