History of the Suhl Shooting center (SSZ)
The developments in the history of firearms in Suhl in particular as a result of local craftsmanship and jobs that were available created a situation where many local people became enthusiastic about shooting. Suhl was the only place in Germany where firearms were made in the 15th – 17th centuries.
The first shooting center was built in Suhl in 1703 and was constantly expanded down through the years.
But there was no suitable shooting range in Suhl for fairly large competitions. The well-known Fajas Clay Pigeon Competition, in 1964 for example, was still held in Leipzig. Many well-known marksmen from earlier periods are still familiar names today – e.g. Erich Krempel or Hugo Heim, and they made Suhl famous for marksmanship.
The shooting center in Suhl has opened its gates in the year of 1971. In the same year, the first European championships took place in Suhl. Another European championship competition was held at the Suhl Shooting center in 1978. And sportsmen and visitors alike praised the shooting center on the Friedberg when the 1986 World Championships were held there. 80,000 spectators watched the events of this world championship with huge enthusiasm, and just as many people were able to watch them on television during the live broadcasts – the first in shooting. This global reputation of being an outstanding location for competitions still holds true today. 61 nations took part in this world championship.
This level of popularity resulted in annual international competitions, like the World Cup, the Grand Prix or other cup competitions with many sportsmen and women coming from abroad, were held here. They further consolidated the reputation of the Suhl facilities.
State subsidies discontinued after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the center suffered financial problems and ownership issues had to be clarified. Plans to turn the site into a golf center or a CD factory were considered. Then the Suhl Shooting center sponsoring association was founded in 1993. The mayor of the time, Dr. Martin Kummer, was its president. Now the center caters for the complete range of Olympic events!
The center covers an area of approx. 29 hectares and is divided into two different shooting areas, one for sports and the other for hunting. The sports area caters for shooting with guns or pistols and the hunting area involves clay pigeon shooting – trap, skeet and double trap or what is known as "running target practice".
The SSZ is now an Olympic center, a federal and state competitive sport center, but it is also available for leisure and popular sports.
It goes without saying that reconstruction work was required on a center that needs to meet the highest requirements so as to enable it to match the latest standards. As a result, reconstruction work took place on the SSZ from 1997 until 1999, which cost DM 22.8 million. The federal government, the state government and the municipality each provided one third of the funds.
In addition to the construction of a reception and information hall, above all the 50 m long gun and pistol shooting ranges, the large multi-purpose hall, the clay pigeon shooting ranges, accommodation for sportsmen and women and tourists and the administration center were all thoroughly modernised and made accessible for the disabled. Now conference and seminar rooms enhance the possibilities offered by the shooting center, thus consolidating the Suhl Shooting center's claim to be one of the most modern facilities in the world.
The large multi-purpose hall is also equipped with a very modern ventilation and heating system and a gym.