Out & About in Switzerland: Shots fired to commemorate history

Competitors take aim on the historic Rütli meadow Keystone

In a country where nearly every man has a gun, it's no surprise that an annual shooting competition at the place considered the birthplace of Switzerland is a big event.

This content was published on November 1, 2000

The shooting competition on the Rütli meadow (Rütlischiessen) on November 8 commemorates the oath sworn in 1291 by representatives of the three original cantons, Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden.

The shooting event, which was first held in 1862, now attracts prominent politicians and hundreds of competitors from across Switzerland. They gather on the meadow in canton Uri and fire more than a dozen shots at nearly 50 targets set up on a cliff.

After the last shot is fired, there's a feast, patriotic speeches and the national anthem is sung.

However, the event itself has come under increasing fire for the environmental damage caused by the lead left in the ground from the bullets. The controversy has forced the local authorities to fence off the "contaminated" area and, as of next year, competitors will only be allowed to use lead-free ammunition.

The Rütli meadow is also the start and finishing point for the 35-kilometre "Switzerland Trail" (Weg der Schweiz). It was opened nine years ago on the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation.

The signposted walk tells the story of Switzerland as it snakes around the shore of Lake Uri.


Out & About in Switzerland is updated regularly to keep you informed of upcoming events, which may provide a different insight into the country and its people.

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