I was thinking about a little wheelie in my chair along the river. What could be better on a Saturday afternoon in May: the sun was shining, and so I wheeled along and then I saw a sign. “STOP – SHOOTING DANGER, through way forbidden. To emphasis it all it was in red and white, a wooden barrier with the sign hanging on a chain and, yes, in three languages. We all speak Swiss German where I live and the Italian part of Swizerland is a few hundred kilometers away down South, after crossing the Gotthard mountains. The French part is nearer, about an hour by road, but where I live the only language spoken is German and perhaps quack from the ducks, but no-one shoots a duck.
It was then I hear the crack of bullets in the air, Of course, silly me. It was one of those week-ends where all good Swiss soldiers must have a rifle practice. They all have their rifles at home, somewhere in a cupboard and during the year they must have a shooting session to make sure it still works and to keep in practice and this was one of those week-ends.
I had no choice but to retrace my wheeling steps, when the Swiss governmental military authorities say the future of your country depends on a shooting practice, then who am I to disobey. Actually my No. 2 son served his time in the army and I remember the tirade of negative words he applied when he again had to sacrifice a Saturday afternoon to go shooting. I think they even have to achieve a certain amount of points to qualify, otherwise they have to go again, although I am not so sure about that one.
I decided to take the path above the river and I saw the targets set up and heard again the continuous crack of rifles. When my son finished his time as a Swiss soldier he returned his rifle. The soldiers are allowed to keep them for a small price, if they want to, he did not.