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The German variety of a gun club is called "Schützenverein". These institutions, deeply rooted in the German history and mindset, have been around mainly since the 19th century, in Bavaria they even go back three hundred years further. Today there are 15.000 of them, representing more than 1.500.000 Germans. After WWII they were verboten because of their (not entirely conflict-free) support for the nazi rule. When they were reopened again in the early 1950s, they mutated more and more into modern sports clubs. Rural Germany is still their stronghold, but they can also be found in larger cities - Berlin is home to more than 6.000 active members. In some cases the facilities are even located at the grounds of inner city schools. This has led to heated debates over their influence (if any) in school shootings, the worst of them yet having been perpetrated by 17 year old Tim Kretschmer, who left 16 dead (indluding himself) in the course of his March 11, 2009 shooting spree in Winnenden, Germany. Kretschmer committed the atrocity with a gun of his father, a Schützenverein member, who held 15 firearms at home. The one in question lay about openly at the Kretschmer family home, in blatant disregard of the most basic gun safety rules. Other recent gun related homicides include the case of female Schützenverein member Sabine W. who shot and killed her husband Thomas W. (member of the same club) on January 23, 2010 in Plochingen, and the still more horrifying case of Andreas H. and his friend Frederik B. (you guessed it - members of a local Schützenverein) who killed Andreas' parents and his two sisters on April 9, 2009 in Eislingen. The geographical closeness of these incidents (they all took place in the German state of Baden-Württemberg) is a coincidence - sadly, other incidences of a similar nature have occurred all over Germany.
The three gentlemen present in this scene however were totally oblivious to all of this and had merely fun with their precision air rifles. In contrast to the ominous look displayed in this photo, hanging out with them proved to be quite a nice experience. To my chagrin I missed five times in a row.
Also by Marcus Hammerschmitt
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