Zella-Mehlis

With the first Scheibenpistolen appearing across Europe certain areas started specialising in the production of parts and weapons. Areas such as Leige in Belgium, St. Gallan in Switserland and especially Suhl and Zella-Mehlis in Germany attracted much interest from weapon builders and the industry was at its height just before the Second World War. After the war many companies closed their doors, but some did manage to go on. One of the homes of the Scheibenpistole is the city of Zella-Mehlis.

The beautiful areas of Zella-Mehlis and Suhl are situated in Thüringen-Germany, which was the birthplace for a lot of these wonderful target pistols. From a historical perspective the area had metal ores and coal. This meant the production of iron and steel, combining this with a plentyful amount of trees from the Thuringer forest: this meant plenty of goodies.

It also attracted many woodcarvers and stock makers, barrel makers, system builders, engravers and the whole lot lived and worked there till the beginning of WWII.

Early weapons included the medieval armament to the introduction of modern fire-arms. At the middle of the 1800’s quite a few craftsmen concentrated around this area, fabricating high quality weapons meant especially good news for target shooters and of course hunters. Both these sports or past-times were considered very popular during the mid-1800 early 1900’s.

In Zella-Mehlis they made a wonderful museum showing us the history from the area including a replica of the old proofing room. In the museum you are shown how the geologic location, local arts and crafts were combined to become the historical birthplace of the sportingarms industry in Germany.

When Hitler came to power he needed military guns, not sporting weapons. He desperately tried to change the production from sporting to military arms. After WWII many companies did not survive and most pistols were taken as souvenirs by the (Allied) soldiers of the war. After 1945-46 the area was given to the Russians who either demolished or dismantled most of the factories in order to ship them back to the USSR for their own production. The region then changed to the manufacturing of other metallic goods: cutlery, bikes, cars and later even main frame computers! Some companies did survive however: Anschutz, Walther. Kommer etc.

Many traditional games and customs also survive today where target shooting and consuming (large amounts of beer mmm..) still remain part of certain German and Austrian culture during so-called Schutzenfests. In Germany some still wear their traditional costumes during these fests and all have a merry time. It is a real ‘must’ for any target shooting enthusiast.

Please visit them here: http://www.beschussanstalt.de/en/