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Knabenschiessen in Switzerland

Knabenschiessen is a traditional shooting competition in Zurich, Switzerland. The German word Knabe means “boy” and betrays the fact that traditionally only male contestants were admitted. However, with dwindling numbers of participants that monopoly was abolished in 1991 - and 1997 saw the first female winner. Knabenschiessen generally begins on the Saturday before the Federal Fast and lasts until the following Monday.

No need to worry - apples balanced on heads are not used as targets in the
Knabenschiessen shooting competition.
No need to worry - apples balanced on heads are not used as targets in the
Knabenschiessen shooting competition.

What do people do?

Every year about 5000 boys and girls aged 13 to 17 take part in the Knabenschiessen shooting competition. The contestant with the highest score is called Schützenkönig, which literally means “king of marksmen”. Nowadays, the occasion has evolved from a contest to a folk festival including fun fairs (Chilbi) offering spectacular rides and food stands.

Public life

Knabenschiessen is not an official holiday in Zurich. However, many businesses may close or have reduced opening hours on the last day of the festival period (Monday). Schools generally close on that day.


The Knabenschiessen shooting competition has been organized by Zurich's marksmen club (Schützengesellschaft) since 1898. The initial objective was to inspire the city's youth to join the Swiss army.

Female contestants were first admitted to the competition as late as 1991. In 1997, 15 year old Rachel Goldschmid became the first girl to win the contest.

Knabenschiessen Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
SatSep 81990KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 71991KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 121992KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 111993KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 101994KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 91995KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 71996KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 131997KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 121998KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 111999KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 92000KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 82001KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 72002KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 132003KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 112004KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 102005KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 92006KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 82007KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 132008KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 122009KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 112010KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 102011KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 82012KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 72013KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 132014KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 122015KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 102016KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 92017KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 82018KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 72019KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich
SatSep 122020KnabenschiessenObservanceZurich

Quick Facts

Knabenschiessen is a traditional shooting competition in Zurich, Switzerland.

Knabenschiessen 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015 (Zurich)

Knabenschiessen 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016 (Zurich)


Name in other languages

List of dates for other years

Other holidays in September 2015 in Switzerland

United Nation Holiday on September 12, 2015

Fun Holiday on September 12, 2015

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