I remember as a child being told not to run with sharp objects. It was good advice at that time and one that I give to my children. The first time I took my son to the gun range we had much the same conversation—safety first. I loaded the gun, placed it in the rest and allowed him to squeeze the trigger. However, things are changing. Sure you should not run with scissors and a person’s first time at the range is another exception. However, self-defense competitions and 3-Gun competitions are swelling in size and running and gunning is more popular than ever.
Long before 3-Gun found popularity, shooters were on the move sporting guns and pointy objects. Biathlon is a sport that captures the attention and imagination of everyone who sees it. The level of athleticism required to get to the target and then steady for a shot is incredible. In so many ways, it is a classic Olympic endeavor—combining the most physically demanding sport of cross-country skiing with the intense precision of rifle marksmanship.
With temperatures on the rise, Biathlon is far from many people’s minds. However, now is exactly the time to get involved. With the mercury headed North, you can focus on the shooting aspect and seek deals on cold weather equipment during the off-season. Then, once the mercury returns to a southern orientation, you will be well equipped and in proper shooting shape. This will allow you to focus on cross-country skiing, securing your gear and the added rigors of cold weather.
In Biathlon these opposing disciplines collide at the shooting range. With hearts pounding nearly three times a second, the athletes struggle to control their breathing as they shoot, knowing that every shot and the number of seconds it takes to make it, will determine who stands on the podium that day. It is this drama, combined with wonderful visual images of the competitors, which has led biathlon to be the top-rated winter sport on European TV.
Although not as highly rated here in the ‘States, U.S. Biathletes are well-respected globally and have been producing strong results in Europe. Tim Burke won a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships and our Junior Team is strong as well with numerous medals at World Junior Championships including Sean Doherty’s gold and two silver medals at 2013 Youth World Championship.
The cold weather is not for everyone and as a result there are other Biathlon disciplines. Summer biathlon combines rifle marksmanship and roller-skiing or running and has a large following in the USA. Though not an Olympic sport, World Championships are held every year. There are also national championships and a series of over 20 competitions throughout the USA.
While most guns are not pointy, arrows can be rather sharp. Thanks to Hollywood and a few well-placed toxophilites, archery is on the rise and has its own sanctioned Biathlon. Ski Archery is a combination of archery and Nordic cross-country skiing.
It takes its origin in the Scandinavian countries hundreds of years ago. The most ancient pictures showing a skier carrying a bow are found through the work of the Norwegian Claus Magnus, circa 1540. The characters were represented in shooting positions with a very short recurve bows.
Ski Archery saw a rebirth in Italy in the mid-1980s. Since then, it has gone through many changes and modifications that have brought it to the current rules. World Archery (WA), the sanctioning body recognized Ski Archery in 1991. The sport is becoming popular in Italy, France, USA, Germany, Ukraine, Slovenia, Russia and Japan. One of the objectives is to gain more top-level athletes and countries participating.
The International Biathlon Union (IBU) and WA built a partnership to develop the discipline. As of the (northern) winter season 2006, WA has become the international governing body for Ski Archery. International events are being organized every winter.
I am sure most of us could use a little more cardio to supplement our shooting. Share your preference for a weapon of choice to compete (or at least spectate) in a Biathlon—rifle or bow—in the comment section.