A seemingly unlikely combination of events – one is an aerobic activity (skiing, snowshoeing, running/walking or mountain biking) which requires strength, speed and endurance: the other is a passive activity (shooting) which requires concentration and a steady hand (difficult after you’ve been skiing, running/walking, or biking all out!).
The earliest known reference to hunting from skis goes back to Norwegian cave paintings dated 2000 years ago. The first known biathlon with firearms was held in Scandinavia in the mid 1700’s. After the muzzle loader era, in the early days of biathlon, it was a center fire event using mostly high power rifles at various distances. Biathlon was adopted as an Olympic sport in 1955, and it was not until 1978 that rim fire was the standard and not until 1980 that the distance was standardized to 50 meters. Well-known local competitive skier, Jack Armstrong, visited the club at our first event in '07 and told us about being on the United States team in the first World Biathlon Championships held in Saalfelden, Austria in 1958. This was the US introduction to winter biathlon competition and the training ground for the US participation in the first Olympic Biathlon which was held in Squaw Valley, California in 1960. Olympic Biathlons use the same caliber rifles on the same-sized targets at the same distances as we will be using here at the Pemi Mountaineer competitions.
Summer Biathlon grew naturally out of Winter Biathlon as a means of keeping in shape for the whole season. Cross-country running is the most popular form of Summer Biathlon in the U.S.A. and Canada. In addition to the Match Class (for experienced biathletes), we offer a Walk Class, a Beginner Class, a Novice Class and two Youth Classes (12 & Under and 13 to 16) where the same or alternative distances are walked or run. This allows everyone to take part in this sport! In addition, we initiated a Mountain Bike Biathlon event in 2008. This event was very well received and will be an option at every summer event.
We hold two races at each event. Match fees are as follows: $15 for one race or $25 for two races if you bring your own rifle and your own ammo. $20 if you are using a club rifle and/or club ammo, and $30 for two races. DO NOT MAIL ANY MATCH FEES AND PAPERWORK – to expedite your sign-in, you may print out your paperwork and bring it with you. This helps you save time at sign-in. Match fees are subject to review and change during the season. Changes will be published as necessary and will be included in match notices as necessary.
Safety briefing and sight-in will follow sign-in. All participants are required to attend the safety briefing, and it is also highly recommended for all spectators. During sight-in any new-to-shooting and new-to-biathlon competitors will be trained. Coaching is available. Age 17 and under must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Here is a map of the trails we will be using at Biathlon events. Drawing by Steve Hines, Winter 2019.