OldWestNewWest.com: History & Travel Magazine

Feb 18th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Places to Visit Museums Old West Firearms Collection Gifted To Buffalo Bill Historical Center

Old West Firearms Collection Gifted To Buffalo Bill Historical Center

Hits smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon
At the turn of the 20th century, civilian shooting competitions in the Old West used to attract thousands of spectators, some of whom travelled for days by wagons and horseback just to witness amazing feats of skilled markmanship.

The firearms used at some of these festivals were German and Swiss, called Schutzen target firearms, and now an important collection from America's Old West history has been presented to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (BBHC) in Cody, Wyoming.

coorscasecloseOn loan to the Center's Cody Firearms Museum since 1995, the world's finest collection of Schutzen (or Schuetzen) target firearms has been converted to a gift by Peter Coors and MillerCoors, LLC, Bruce Eldredge, Executive Director of the BBHC.

"It is with great pleasure and deep appreciation to Mr. Coors and MillerCoors that we accept this outstanding and generous donation," Eldredge stated. "The gift of the Coors Collection is an important milestone in our continuing commitment to interpreting the role of firearms in the development of the American West and their importance in our country's contribution to the Industrial Revolution."

Consisting of 29 rifles, one revolver, a set of sights, two cases of cartridges, and seven oak and glass display cases, the Coors Collection is directly related to rich military and sporting traditions.

"The German term ‘Schutzen' is roughly translated as ‘shooter' or ‘sharpshooter,'" Cody Firearms Museum Curator Warren Newman explained. "Special German military units were once equipped with highly accurate, long-range rifles that were called Schutzen rifles. By the middle to late 1800s, similar civilian counterpart rifles and competitions emerged, and Schutzenfests, or marksmen's festivals, were being held throughout Germany and Switzerland.

"These events came to America along with German and Swiss immigrants, and by the early 1900s target shooting competitions had become quite popular in the United States," he continued. "They frequently attracted thousands of participants and spectators, who often came in wagons or on horseback to witness the shooting events and enjoy the accompanying food and entertainment."

The competition shooting was done "offhand," which means the rifle was unsupported by anything except the shooter. The targets were typically set up at 200-yard distances, so the shooters had to be highly skilled and the firearms extremely accurate.

There has been an effort to perpetuate the Schutzen tradition, and in recent years, a resurgence of interest in Schutzen shooting and competitions is found throughout this country, including the Wyoming Schuetzen Union.

"MillerCoors is pleased to donate this historically important collection of firearms, permanently to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center," said Al Timothy, Vice President of MillerCoors Community Affairs. "The Cody Firearms Museum is a perfect home for this collection, and it is an ideal place for the public to view these rare antique firearms."

Newman points out that prominently featured in the collection are an engraved Stevens-Pope Model 53-44 Schutzen rifle, a cased four-barrel set Maynard Model 1882 deluxe rifle, a Maynard Model 1873 Creedmore rifle, an engraved Stevens Model 55 - 44 "lady's rifle," and many other models of splendid precision firearms.

They all can be viewed in the main gallery of the Cody Firearms Museum at the Historical Center.

For more information, contact Newman at
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 307.578.4092. Read more about the Cody Firearms Museum at www.bbhc.org/firearms/.

Committed to connecting people with the Spirit of the American West, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center weaves the varied threads of the western experience-history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms technology and the nature of Yellowstone-into the rich panorama that is the American West.

The Center, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is now operating its winter schedule, open Thursday - Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., closed Monday - Wednesday. For general information, visit
www.bbhc.org or call 307.587.4771.

Places to Visit