The encouragement of innocent out-door sports....
The original charter of the Round Top Schützen Verein was to be a sporting club for the “encouragement of innocent out-door sports, such as bicycle riding, target and trap shooting, open air athletics, games, dancing and others of like character.” Of these different activities, only a few are still practiced; dancing and target shooting. The Rifle Association hosts many dances throughout the year. The primary event of the target shooting is the annual Schützenfest.
Shooting for the rooster
The festivities start with a social and meal for members and their immediate family held the night before. The Schützenfest, held the next morning, is a shooting contest that results in the crowning of the König (king), who is the member with the best score after several rounds of shooting.
The contest involves shooting .22 caliber rifles with open sites at a target that is 168 feet away. The goal is to hit a perfect bulls eye which results a score of 12 points, much harassment by fellow members and the satisfaction of seeing rooster pop up. The farther away your shot is from the bulls eye the lower the count towards your total score. After a practice shot, each member shoots 3 times. Those with a score of 29 or better advance to the next round. Three shots are taken again. Those tied with the highest score in the second round compete in a "shoot-off" to determine the Schützenkönig.
A cedar crown and a keg of beer....
2022 marked the 150th celebration of Schützenfest. The Round Top Rifle Association added some additional ceremonies to the traditional crowning. The evening after Schützenfest, the members and public gathered for the crowning of the König, followed by several hours of dancing to the music of a local band. In preparation for the ceremony, the previous year's König, Cullen Weishuhn, made a crown of cedar boughs. At 6:00, the new König was escorted into the hall by a procession of all the members.
RTRA President, Michael Sacks, led the ceremonies. He first welcomed three new honorary members to the RTRA - individuals who have assisted the Hall for many years. They were Matt Mikulenk, Sean Hunger, and Steve Ditsler. Michael then recognized all the hard work done by the spouses and children of the Hall members and announced the winners of the 2021 and 2022 women's and youth shooting contests. They were:
2021: Women's champion Ashley Nelius Youth champion Cayden Nelius
2022: Women's champion Monica Fricke Youth champion Bryant Feldhousen
The 2022 SchützenKönig, Flint Feldhousen, was then introduced to the crowd. Flint is a new RTRA member and won the contest with a near-perfect score of 35 in the final round. Following his introduction to the crowd, he received his gold medal and was crowned by the previous king. At that point, some of our younger members hoisted the new König into the air three times to the shouts of “Hoch sol er leben, hoch sol er leben, drei mal hoch”. The new König does have responsibilities though... The first of which is to treat the RTRA members and their guests to a nice cold keg of beer!
Please enjoy vides of these moments posted below.
A Community Celebration
The Round Top community gathers in support of the new King for a night of music, dancing and German beer.
A newspaper article from the LaGrange Journal in 1896 describes a shooting contest with the same competition rules as are used today. You can read the article here.