The literal translation of Knabenschiessen, is 'boys shooting,' referring to an event harking back to the 17th century when competitions were held for the Schützenkönig (King of the Marksmen) with the aim of encouraging young boys to get excited about shooting and their future military service.
The event is now a weekend celebration and the actual shooting takes place at the shooting range in Albisgüetli in south-west Zurich. Knabenschiessen competitors (girls have been allowed to paricipate since 1991) must be between the ages of 13 and 17 years and live or go to school in the Canton of Zurich. For the entry fee of 12 Swiss Francs, competitors receive the right to participate, ammunition and a Bratwurst. Each year, 35'000 rounds are shot during Knabenschiessen.
Funnily enough Albisgüetli didn't feature on tram No.13 as expected when I leapt on it with my two daughters outside Zurich HB this morning. The destination was instead Laubegg where the 'Chilbi' fun fair was taking place to mark it. The rest of the tram line has been closed for the fair so I think the idea is that you walk along the tram line through the Chibli to the event at Albisgüetli, although we didn't get that far. We were too busy enjoying the fair.
And boy was it big and busy! We had a great time, consuming Bratwurst, Chnoblibrot (garlic bread) and supping slushies while enjoying a few rides and some weird and wonderful sights. Apparently there was a happy half hour at some point today where all the rides are free but I have no idea when that was – hopefully I'll be more clued up next time round. Happy Knabenschiessen!