B082-The American Percussion Schuetzen Rifle

B082 - The American Percussion Schuetzen Rifle - $98.00

by John Hamilton and Tom Rowe. Tom Rowe Publisher, 2004.384 pp.

This book represents the very first reference anyone interested in this topic should consult. It ends the drought of information about German arms making influences on American target shooting sports. The schuetzen rifle evolved from German target shooting sport over several centuries. The style traveled to America with German immigrants in the forms of German-made rifles in personal luggage and in newly-crafted target rifles by German-American gun smiths.

Once again Tom Rowe located an expert voice – John Hamilton – to assist in finding, photographing and describing a ground-breaking array of American percussion schuetzen rifles from across the nation. Hamilton and Rowe open with a concise and illuminating history of the German immigration to America, starting in the late 1600s. They reveal that the schuetzen sport flourished only among the latest wave of immigration from 1850 on. A sport primarily of the more affluent urban classes, the first schuetzen clubs in America resulted from efforts to recreate the popular German cultural institutions left behind. The end papers contain a state-by-state listing of schuetzen clubs identified by the authors for the period covered. They also offer a directory of 145 known makers of percussion schuetzen rifles. The book serves up examples of 74 makers from the master list.

Section One offers the reader an anatomy lesson on the percussion schuetzen rifle. The authors picture and describe each part in all typical variations, from hooked butt plate to turned bullet starter at the opposite end. The anatomy lesson continues with examination of bullet types, schuetzen festival shooting programs and targets used. Now to the rifles themselves.

The beauty pageant of schuetzen rifles parades before the reader according to region of origin. Schuetzen rifles born in the North East begin the pageant. Examples, often several, of the artistry of 31 difference makers from this region appear in clear, color close-up photographs. Each set of photos offers text describing the example and underlining notable features. The authors opine several times that a specific example likely originated in part or in whole in Germany, due to tell-tale marks such as those used by the Schilling forge in Suhl. Such examples almost always show American maker names and addresses stamped on the top barrel flat and/or lock plate.

Schuetzen rifles and their makers(27)from America’s midsection appear in section two.

Section three examines the schuetzen rifles from 16 makers working in the Far West, almost exclusively the San Francisco region of California. Two notable features of California schuetzen rifles: their distinctive stock architecture and the fact that many appear fabricated for dual usage in the hunting field as well as on the target range.

The book concludes with a brief pictorial exploration of the paraphernalia of this sport: medals, trophies, tools, accessories, palm rests, bullet molds and swages, bullet starters, cappers, false muzzles, patch cutters, nipple wrenches, powder flasks and rear sights. A bibliography and index finish it off.

Overall this book opens a welcome conversation about the American percussion schuetzen rifle and the cultural institutions in which it is embedded. Hamilton and Rowe earn highest marks from this reviewer.