Very few countries still have a corps of crossbowmen as an official part of their armed forces, but the tiny Republic of San Marino does. Although now an exclusively ceremonial part of the army, there are some 80 members of the Crossbow Corps. They show off their skills and hold competitions in the art of firing the heavy form of this ancient weapon at the Cava dei Balestrieri.
Their uniforms are traditional medieval in pattern. In addition to the military group San Marino also has a civilian association determined to keep the art of crossbow shooting alive. In addition to the shooters, the association has members who are musicians and those who wave the ceremonial flags at festivals and at events in the Balestrieri Quarry. Once used to obtain stone for the city in the 19th century, the quarry has been used for crossbow shooting since the early 1960s.
The shooting competitions are not regularly timed except for one each year on September 3. As well as crossbow shooting, the range is also used for longbow archery demonstrations and competitions.
Know Before You Go
You will find the site very close to the upper cable car station.