Rifle associations date back to the Middle Ages, when town dwellers united to protect themselves from the nobility. At the first German Rifle Club Festival [Schützenfest], held in Gotha in 1861, various clubs merged together to form the General German Rifle Association. Here, the black, red, and gold flag of the German Republic, which waves from the town hall, signals the national democratic attitude of the participants and gestures towards the historical roots of these popular festivals. Print from the Illustrierte Zeitung, Leipzig, 1861.