Hunting has long been pursued both as a pastime and in order to survive. In Weber's opera, hunters are the heroes, idealized as noble, rustic forest rangers that practice their trade out of pride. It is this pride, along with the love of his beloved Agathe, which leads poor Ranger Max down the wrong path! In order to win a shooting contest, he makes a demonic pact in return for "free shots," or bullets that will go wherever he wants them to. In real life, the legend of the "Free Shooter" (Der Freischütz) had been spread around Europe since the early 1700s, when a young man was supposedly arrested and convicted for attempting to form a pact with the devil in return for magic bullets. In this light, it's all the more surprising that the opera was not originally titled after the legend, but was rather called "The Hunter's Bride."