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Groda
Mar 17, 2005



Hair Elf

Last Sunday, I went to a unusual annual shooting event in Belgian Limburg, the Oud Limburgs Schuttersfeest (OLS). It's been held in its current form since the late 1800's, but the federation running it has participating guilds which claim to date back to at least the 1400's. These guilds were a form of independent local defense force originally, and, I assume, similar to all those night watches that Rembrandt painted in the 1600's.

(Now, before we begin: Ask any Dutchman or Flegm about the region of Limburg, and they will tell you that, like Groda, they are not very good at Dutch. Linguistically speaking, it sounds like mad, drunken rambling, and basically made it impossible to understand any Dutch spoken through the PA system or by Limburgers over the age of 50. This post is just the impressions of a simple man at a complicated festival.)

The festival consisted of a number of parallel competitions:
  • Traditional Limburg shooting
  • Drill exercises
  • "Beauty contest" (literally that in Dutch, schoonheidswedstrijd
The shooting seemed to be kept fairly separate from the drill/pageant organization, and I'm not sure that the shooters participated in the opening procession or the big parade through town.

Shooting guilds
Before we begin, here's a random guild (St. Sebastianus Margraten. That is, a guild from Margraten, in Dutch Limburg, with the patron saint St. Sebastianus.) taking part in the opening procession. I chose them because of their ridiculously over-phosphated parade rifles (some sort of deactivated Enfield).


Some of the guilds opted for other historical periods for their uniforms, but mostly had the same set of roles (musicians, bread bearers, riflemen/pikemen etc), marching roughly in the same order:


Shooting
The shooting itself involves 15 kg single-shot rifles firing metallic centerfire cartridges with (I think -- what's Vectan BA10?) smokeless powder and cast lead bullets. The bullets can be either 16 ga or 12 ga. For 12 ga, the bullet can be a maximum of 37,8 g (583 gr), and is loaded in a 30 mm long brass case. Muzzle energy is limited to 1000 J (738 ft-lbs) regardless of caliber, and muzzle velocity to 220 m/s (722 fps). This is the only guy making them.



The target is an array of small wooden cubes painted black. This array is mounded on top of a pole, so shooting takes place at about a 45° angle. The rifle has a diopter sight and rests on a stand, allowing the shooter to take their good time. Each guild's team is to shoot a column of blocks at a time. A buksmeester is there to help lift it on to the shooter. The safety on the rifle I tried was interesting: It consisted of two triggers, a rear trigger which clicked, indicating it was ready to fire, and a front trigger which fired the rifle.



Now, shooting actual bullets at 45° in a densely populated country can be tricky. In the town of Maasmechelen this year, the solution was to fire over one of the principle canals of the region, Zuid-Willemsvaart, into a field. I assume we ceased fire for barge traffic. The shooting grounds are under the arrow, and the danger zone is marked in red.


There were 40 poles that day, and, to make the total field of fire smaller, they were arranged in a convex pattern. According to the rule book, the danger zone for these rifles goes out to 785 m. The poles could be tilted down to change out the target during ongoing competition.


There was an old guy preparing new targets completely out in the open in front of the firing line, while people shot hundreds of rounds over him. He gave no fucks and smoked a pretty impressive pipe through an equally impressive moustache.


Beauty contest
The thing that was most visible was the pageantry aspect of the OLS. The day opened with an opening procession on to the grounds, which was followed with a parade through town later that day. Jury members were all over the place grading the various roles in each guild. My favorite one of these was the bieleman, or sapper. They had axes, fake beards, and leather aprons. Why? Geen waarom.



The parade rifles (deactivated, of course) were an interesting topic in their own right. I ended up seeing guilds with:
  • Lee Enfields
  • M1 carbines
  • M1 Garands
  • Commission rifles
  • Karbiner 98k
  • exactly zero M1895 Dutch Mannlichers
I was curious about which deactivation methods they used.


White people
Also, when I took this, "Wake me up" by Avicci was playing.


Review
I had a great time, a lot of beer and fried food, and would recommend anyone who speaks Dutch to try it out next year!

Groda fucked around with this message at 19:49 on Jul 10, 2016

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Not Nipsy Russell
Oct 6, 2004

Failure is always an option.


That is a very strange event. I'd like to try it. Any idea on the origins of that very particular style of shooting competiton? Is it supposed to represent some particular aspect of warfare or hunting? Or maybe it's just a good reason to shoot guns up in the air and go drinking. Also very valid.

quote:

They had axes, fake beards, and leather aprons. Why? Geen waarom.

The axe/apron/glove (and apparently beard) is a thing in the French Foreign Legion, too.

Groda
Mar 17, 2005



Hair Elf

Not Nipsy Russell posted:

That is a very strange event. I'd like to try it. Any idea on the origins of that very particular style of shooting competiton? Is it supposed to represent some particular aspect of warfare or hunting? Or maybe it's just a good reason to shoot guns up in the air and go drinking. Also very valid.
As far as I can tell, the current heavy rifle was a relatively late addition to the whole shooting guild system. Combining underpowered rifles and beer drinking is nothing unique, and I'm sure Cyrano4747 will be here to compare this to German-speaking schützenfesten.

Not Nipsy Russell posted:

The axe/apron/glove (and apparently beard) is a thing in the French Foreign Legion, too.


I've looked it up, and apparently they're widespread symbols of the sapper.

Butch Cassidy
Jul 28, 2010



That looks like an absolute blast.

B4Ctom1
Oct 5, 2003

OVERWORKED COCK


Slippery Tilde

It is like octoberfest but with little guns, but still beer? Later? Hot women?

Force de Fappe
Nov 7, 2008



This is the weirdest shooting competition I've ever seen and I wanna go so bad.

vklink
Apr 2, 2008


Not Nipsy Russell posted:

That is a very strange event. I'd like to try it. Any idea on the origins of that very particular style of shooting competiton? Is it supposed to represent some particular aspect of warfare or hunting? Or maybe it's just a good reason to shoot guns up in the air and go drinking. Also very valid.

I'm also interested in the "why" of it.

Also, how big are the black boxes?

Groda
Mar 17, 2005



Hair Elf

vklink posted:

Also, how big are the black boxes?

The blocks (Limburgs: bölkes) are either 15 or 10 mm cubes. They can be up to 16 m above ground, with the shooter standing at a distance of 20 m from the base of the target carrier.

B4Ctom1 posted:

It is like octoberfest but with little guns, but still beer? Later? Hot women?


The beer sucked, unfortunately.

moosepoop
Mar 9, 2007

GET SWOLE


Did anyone actually hit anything?

Requesting pictures of the winning beard.

DJExile
Jun 27, 2007



Force de Fappe posted:

This is the weirdest shooting competition I've ever seen and I wanna go so bad.

LimburgLimbo
Feb 10, 2008

One day I will be happy
every day


Basically the only thread in TFR I can ever claim to have username synergy with and I miss it.

That fest looks awesome though.

Problematic Soup
Feb 18, 2007

My soup has malfunctioned?





Cool as hell, but still all about shooting up at a 45 degree angle, tho.

Itchy_Grundle
Feb 22, 2003



That's really cool, I had no idea something like that existed.

Scratch Monkey
Oct 25, 2010

Proč bychom se netěšili když nám Pán Bůh zdraví dá?


Pretty interesting. Why didn't they shoot into a berm?

gizmojumpjet
Feb 21, 2006

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.

Grimey Drawer

Scratch Monkey posted:

Pretty interesting. Why didn't they shoot into a berm?

Berm lives matter.

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Groda
Mar 17, 2005



Hair Elf

Take a look at the firing line.

moosepoop posted:

Did anyone actually hit anything?
The VIPs (the governors of the two Limburgs, mayor and bishop) got to fire the opening shots of the tournament, then I got to. None of us missed our shots.

The biggest factor is the sway of the pole that these little black blocks are on, so people take their good time. You want a good clean hit that takes off just the block, not the pin it's mounted on -- this might be used as a tiebreaker. As the tournament went on, the score board simply listed if a particular guild had shot perfectly (all 18 (?) shots per round) or not. A large proportion of the guilds did shoot perfectly, though.

moosepoop posted:

Requesting pictures of the winning beard.
Serious answer
J.W. Kauwenberg from the guild Sint Stephanus Dieteren, with a jury score of 90,83 %.

Less serious answer

These guys.

Scratch Monkey posted:

Pretty interesting. Why didn't they shoot into a berm?
I found no explanation as to why they have such a bizarre shooting, but they do occasionally shoot "shoot the bird" -- shoot a whimsical bird target or figure -- so I'm assuming it had something to do with hunting.

EDIT:
They also have the option of using a bullet catcher (kogelvanger).

More from Google image search...

Groda fucked around with this message at 02:55 on Aug 3, 2016

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