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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.
©iStockphoto.com/udokant

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.

Background

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 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 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016 (Zurich)

Knabenschiessen 2017

Saturday, September 9, 2017 (Zurich)

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Name in other languages

NameLanguage
KnabenschiessenGerman
KnabenschiessenFrench
KnabenschiessenItalian
KnabenschiessenRomansh
KnabenschiessenEnglish

List of dates for other years

Other holidays in September 2016 in Switzerland

United Nation Holiday on September 10, 2016

Fun Holiday on September 10, 2016

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