What’s a MotoSchützen?

By David Kelley
Posted in #EDC
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What’s a MotoSchützen?

September 4th, 2023

8 minute read

MotoSchutzen is a coined term I bet most of you aren’t familiar with. You won’t find “MotoSchützen” in Webster’s dictionary (yet), although www.moto-schutzen.com does list the word as a verb with a definition of “the act of combining the exhilarating passions of firearms and motorcycles together for several days of adrenalin-filled, action-packed activities with a high dose of beautiful scenery and great camaraderie.”

motorcycles and shooting at motoschutzen
For many people, motorcycles and shooting are their top two passions. Why not combine them in a single event with like-minded folks?

As you have probably guessed, MotoSchützen is a motorcycle and shooting event and one that I was fortunate enough to be invited to the 2023 iteration of. The attendee list comprises a diverse group of gun addicts and motorcycle aficionados, with the decided event location centering around areas with plentiful shooting opportunities and destination-filled landscapes.

A Great Pairing

Why involve bikes in a shooting event? Without question, there is an inherent tie between man, machine and firearm. Picture it; to the beginning of modern transportation, shooters and hunters as a whole have been drawn to unique vehicles and alternate methods to reach a destination. At quick thought, the shared interest could be due to the intricate workings of a machine compared to a firearm — springs, pistons, cylinders, and chambers.

bikes at motoschutzen 2023
The bikes at this year’s MotoSchützen event were as varied as the riders themselves.

There is a commonality of phrases and similar methods of manufacturing — fabricating, machining, boring, precision, tuning, amongst others. It could also be tied to the generally shared love of the outdoors with a hunger for travel to breathe clean air and to have the wind in your face. Regardless, the tie is there, and this event solidifies it.

In the past, MotoSchutzen events have spanned the United States from the west of Utah and Colorado, south to Texas, and as far east as Tennessee, with a few between them all. This year’s event was held in Illinois between the I-80 corridor and Mount Carroll, Illinois, keeping all lodging and riding to the north and northwest of the busy interstate. For those unfamiliar, this region holds a strong tradition of firearms manufacturing with multiple factories and shooting facilities in the immediate area. 

My Shot

2023 brought me to the event as a first-time attendee and admittedly with some initial trepidation. While having been raised in a household where firearms and motorcycles were beyond commonplace, I had not regularly thrown my leg over the seat of a two-wheeled machine in several years. In a former career, my most recent summers were spent with obligations to military duties, and the commute from home to office wasn’t motorcycle ideal for many reasons.

bikes at motoschutzen
The author was a first-time attendee this year at the MotoSchützen.

Realizing I’d be with a group of daily riders on a bike that I didn’t personally own didn’t sit well with me for the first few miles. Thankfully, I can tell you that operating a motorcycle is, well, “like riding a bike”. Regaining control and dexterity didn’t take more than a few minutes, and any hesitation was left in the rear-view mirror during a quick solo ride to reacquaint with clutch, shifter, brakes and balance.


The itinerary for the 2023 MotoSchutzen event was very straightforward, purposeful and full of fun. On arrival date, the group began to trickle into the lodging area throughout the afternoon. One by one, truck and trailer or a lone bike would be seen and heard pulling into Black Bear Lodge North located in Mount Carroll, Illinois.

motorcycle at 2023 motoschutzen
MotoSchützen 2023 began at the Black Bear Lodge North located in Mount Carroll, Illinois. This puts it very close to “The Site” shooting facility.

Black Bear Lodge North is the primary accommodation for students attending shooting and training courses at “The Site,” which is just a short cruise to the east. The main lodge provides eleven separate rooms with two beds, a comfortable main gathering room and a dining area. The log-sided building is wrapped around the front and side with a deck and tables for outdoor gathering. The venue also provided multiple cabins varying in size and capacity. 

Once the motorcycles and gear were unloaded, general introductions were made. A large majority of 2023 participants have attended regularly since the inception of the event and were recalling rides back to the 2015 era during dinner and some evening chats around the lodge.

The Event

The following morning and first official day of the gathering started with a great breakfast on-site at Black Bear Lodge North, followed by a route briefing and plan for the day that consisted of shooting and touring in the vicinity of Colona and Geneseo, Illinois. We hopped onto various motorcycles, with many riding purpose-built adventure bikes. Close to half saddled-up on Kawasaki KLR650s; the remainder on Harley Davidson cruisers, a Royal Enfield Himalayan, Honda Africa Twin, Ducati Multistrada, and an attention-grabbing Ural complete with sidecar.

ducati bike at motoschutzen
From Kawasaki to Ducati, many motorcycle brands were seen at this riding and shooting event.

The sights and terrain varied greatly from Mount Carroll to the flatter agricultural land of the I-80 corridor, a 70-mile ride south from the lodge. There are more elevation changes on the roadways with gentle left and right sweepers between parcels of corn and beans in that northern section. Our destinations included Bi-State Sportsman’s Association in Colona, Illinois, for a morning of shotgunning clay targets followed by a catered lunch at the range.

After, we had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour a jaw-dropping private collection of American muscle cars. After sensory overload subsided from witnessing the most impressive collection of Ford Mustangs I’ll ever see, we shared dinner in Geneseo, then headed the 70 miles back north to Black Bear Lodge North. Another evening was spent, unsurprisingly, chatting about firearms and motorcycles — the good stuff!

The Event, Part II

The second day of the event began with another filling breakfast at the lodge. The second day would repeat the first with morning range time, lunch then scenic touring. We rode a few short minutes to The Site: Firearms Training Center to receive a safety and range brief from the facility manager, which gave a good history of The Site and its significance in the training industry, along with providing details of the ranges and best safety practices. From the collection of uniform patches on the wall of the meeting room, it’s evident that many top-tier organizations and individuals have utilized this location.

shooting the springfield echelon at the motoschutzen event
At “The Site,” the riders were able to shoot a variety of Springfield Armory products, including the new Echelon 9mm pistol.

One of many great highlights of shooting at The Site was the chance to handle several Springfield Armory handguns that I had not previously fired. Springfield Armory presented a Hellcat Pro 9mm, 1911 Operator 9mm and the just-released 9mm Echelon. Additionally, multiple Crossbreed IWB, OWB and chest-rig holsters were on hand for demonstrations and group use during the shoot.

The double-stack 9mm Hellcat Pro is the big brother to the Hellcat micro-compact, yet with a reduction in all-around size compared to the 4” Springfield XD full-size. The 3.7”-barreled handgun is Melonite finished with tritium sights and is optics-ready. The 15+1 magazine capacity is impressive, considering the small footprint. Outfitted with a Shield SMSc, hits on the 25-yard line were a breeze. This handgun has a place on a motorcycle rider’s hip, securely tucked into a Crossbreed holster of choice.

author shooting the echelon at 2023 motoschutzen
For many people, the 2023 MotoSchützen was their first opportunity to get range time with the new Springfield Armory Echelon handgun.

A 1911 Operator chambered in 9mm particularly captured my attention. Sporting a traditional single-stack frame with accessory rail, crisp trigger, and the sight radius of a 5” 1911 makes for a great combination with the reduced recoil of a 9mm compared to .45 ACP. The Operator blends classic lines of a John Browning design with a cartridge that I prefer. The frame and slide are forged carbon steel with black Cerakote. Sights consist of a rear white dot and front tritium. VZ grips and a scalloped backstrap allow maximum adhesion to the hand, especially under the gentler recoil of a 9mm.

The final handgun shown by Springfield Armory was the recently released 9mm Echelon. There are many standout features, and all are equally relevant in my opinion. This handgun is built around a Central Operating Group, which contains the trigger group and slide rails to allow toolless removal of the whole unit allowing interchangeability between small, medium, and large polymer grip modules. The striker-fired trigger is one of the better that I have encountered. Two other appreciated features that deserve mention with limited space are the deep “trenches” of the slide for outstanding grip and the Variable Interface System making the slide compatible with over 30 optics without plates. This pistol ate up the Fiocchi Range Dynamics ammo we had on hand.

fiocchi ammo motoschutzen 2023
Fiocchi’s Range Dynamics ammunition fed the guns at the MotoSchützen 2023.

To close out the event, we toured west after lunch to visit the town of Galena, Illinois, in the northwestern corner of the Land of Lincoln. Galena’s streets and architecture reminded me of Deadwood, South Dakota. After a walk through town to quickly view the storefronts of the business district and visit a Ulysses S. Grant bench statue, we returned to the parked bikes for me to find a nail in the KLR650s rear tire, ending my journey. The bike was loaded into the trail vehicle for the remaining travel that wound along the banks of the Mississippi River to the final dinner at Poopy’s Bar and Grill, a motorcycle hot spot on the edge of Savanna, Illinois. Dinner was spent recapping the previous two days and planning the next adventure.


The ride back to the lodge, knowing that the trip was closing and that we’d go our separate ways for the year, wasn’t as exciting as pulling out of the lot for the first day of travel, but it gave me time to reflect on the friendships made and experiences shared in such a short period of time. This group of riders is a good one, to say the least, and I assure you I’m ready for the 2024 event.

Avid motorcyclists, where would you choose to hold a multi-day riding and shooting excursion?

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David Kelley

David Kelley

David retired from active-duty military service in early 2023. He is most proud of his time spent as an Infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division during the early phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom. David was raised and currently lives in Pennsylvania — a great place for an avid varmint, small-game, and deer hunter to reside. He enjoys chasing game with bow, shotgun, and rifle. Other passions equally as important as his hunting seasons are owning accurate rifles and developing precision handloads for them. David can most recently be found fully immersed in the motorcycling lifestyle and working on getting several long-neglected bikes back on the road.

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