Historical shooting sports in Hungary

Blackpowder shooting in Hungary

Our country has established traditions in target shooting and hunting. However the development of the two firearms-related sports are quite different. Hunting in central Europe was always a privilege of the nobility, while target shooting was a sport of the civilians of the free cities of the king.

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Coat of Arms of Kántor

These free cities were often threatened by attacking armies of Turks and Habsburgs, but they also had to defend against the Hungarian feudal lords trying to collect taxes from the rich cities. This is the principal reason why these cities raised private militias recruited from citizens capable of handling the rifle. The best method of rifle practice was to hold yearly competitions in springtime. These shooting fests evolved into sport shooting activity. We have records of target shooting associations from the early 16th century.

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17th century shooting competition

Hunting with firearms is also a half-millennial activity in Hungary. The first record of a red deer taken with a firearm is from 1509, when a hunter of the king, Kántor Benedek successfully took a deer with a single shot in the presence of King Ulászló the Second. The hunt is recorded on the Coat of Arms of Kántor. He must have been using a handgonne, that makes this event much more significant.

Muzzleloaders were used in my country for centuries until 1945, the beginning of the communist era. Our country lost its freedom for decades and we lost valuable antique arms collections as well. Many old arms were buried in the woods or hidden in attics but most of them were collected by the communist regime and destroyed in smelters. The dictators always feared people who had arms – even if it was only a muzzleloader…

Modern times

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Collodial photo of Attila Venczel, 2010

The fall of communism/socialism in 1989 opened new windows, but raised new problems as well. It was not easy for the regime to adapt to the new democratic system. Even if the front line socialist politicians had moved away from the scene, the second line remained in service, and kept the fear from armed citizens.

However the World changed slowly. Muzzleoaders became premitted above the age of 18 but we were not allowed to shoot them, as there existed no legal way to possess blackpowder and caps. We organized the first competitions in 1995 with the help of our Slovakian friends, but the police did not tolerate such events, so after the first national championships the whole project was banned. But a small group of shooters did not give up. Gábor Káldi, István Kisvárdai, József Vasicza and Alpár Cziglényi founded an association to protect the rights of the shooters: The Hungarian Muzzleloaders Association.

The process of legislation started. It took 5 years to convince the authorities to change the laws. Up until 2000, all our competitions were organized in Komárno, Slovakia again with the help of our Slovakian, and Hungarian-Slovakian shooter friends.

In 2000 the ice finally melted. At last the activity was free to start in Hungary as well. This was the year when we applied for membership to MLAIC. We attended our first international match in 2003. Three Hungarian shooters visited the European Championships in Halikko, Finlad. I was lucky to be one of them, and I will never forget all the friendship and help we received from our fellow shooters. With the help of Donald “Bucky” Malson we finally arrived home: the world wide family of blackpowder shooters.

Up until today we have more than 500 shooters registered in our association in 20 shooting clubs. Our greatest plan is to apply for the right to organize the 2017 MLAIC European Championships. It has been a long jurney, and we feel it is now time to return all the friendship we received from our shooter friends all over the world with some traditional Hungarian hospitality.

Balázs Németh

member of the Commission of MLAIC

chairman of Hungarian Blackpowder Shooters and Hunters Association

MLAIC delegate of Hungary