85-year-old Swiss sharpshooter hangs up his rifle

Traditional Ruetli shooting at Ruetli meadow
85-year-old Toni Hacki of the Ruetlischuetzengesellschaft Engelberg shooter association stands with his old Karabiner 31 infantry rifle during the traditional 'Ruetlischiessen' (Ruetli shooting) competition at the Ruetli meadow in central Switzerland November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

November 17, 2021

(This story corrects reference in paragraph 6 of Nov. 15 story to the stock of the rifle. The original version referred to it incorrectly as the barrel)

By Arnd Wiegmann

RUETLI, Switzerland (Reuters) – Ultimately, it was the sun in his eyes.

Surrounded by other sharpshooters, scraggly-beareded Toni Hacki lifted his long rifle and took aim across the Ruetli meadow where Switzerland was founded in 1291, just as he had done for the past 51 years.

But this time, his performance didn’t live up to his standards, and he decided it would be his last.

“Today went badly. My vision failed me,” grumbled Hacki, who blamed the sun getting in his eyes as he aimed.

More than 1,000 sharpshooters gathered on the shores of Lake Lucerne last week for the annual Ruetli Shooting, an event that has been held since the 19th century, which pays homage to the country’s foundation as a medieval confederation of cantons.

Many of the shooters competed using military-style black rifles, wearing contemporary sports gear. Hacki wore a thick button-up leather jacket. The stock of his gun was wooden.

Two decades ago, Hacki was the champion. Next year, he will return as a spectator, he said.

“I will come back but I won’t shoot. That’s over now.”

(Reporting by Arnd Wiegmann; Writing by Michael Shields; Editing by Peter Graff)