Switzerland’s annual shooting taler is now available. The Swiss tradition of marksmanship was established during the old Swiss Confederacy in the 15th century, when festival participants used crossbows in shooting contests. The legend of William Tell recalls this tradition.
In modern times, a shooting festival is held every year in a different canton. As many as 50,000 marksmen have attended some of them. This year’s will be held in Stans, the capital city of the canton of Nidwalden.
The obverse has a German legend with the name of the event. A standing, bare-breasted, Helvetia, representative of Switzerland, faces right, holding a laurel wreath of the type given to winners at the festival in her left hand. In her right hand, she is holding a rifle. Behind her is a cantonal town with the Alps in the distance.
The reverse features a wreath of oak leaves at left and laurel at right, around the face value of 50 FR. Under the wreath is a marksman’s powder horn and bandolier hanging from a pair of crossed rifles. The legend indicates in French and German that the taler is convertible into 50 Swiss francs during the shooting festival. The .900 fine silver piece is struck in proof quality only, weighs 25 grams, is 37 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 1,750 pieces. They sold out at the Mint before they were released.
Stans’ most legendary citizen, Arnold von Winkelried, a hero of the Swiss confederacy, has an important role in this year's festival – it is named after him. It is being called the Winkelried-Schiessen,” or Winkelried Shoot. Swiss legend says that in the Battle of Sempach in 1386, against the army of the Habsburg Duke Leopold III of Austria, Winkelried, a Swiss soldier, sacrificed his life to change the course of the battle. According to unverified legend, Winkelried said “I will open a passage into the line; protect, dear countrymen and confederates, my wife and children.” He then threw himself on the pikes of the Austrian pikemen and took some of them down with him.
A memorial and statue to Winkelried stands in Stans.