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Old 11-29-2006, 09:23 PM
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Biathlete.org Equipment

The Biathlon Sport

Imagine skiing around a turn at twenty miles per hour with a rifle harnessed on your back.
Out of breath; your heart pounds in your chest as you ski up to a rifle firing point.
Quickly pulling the rifle around from your back, you settle with the first target in sight.
Better calm your nerves quickly to knock down the targets; the clock is running.

Winter Biathlon is a combination of cross country freestyle skiing and rifle marksmanship.
Competitors ski with rifles and shoot at small metal targets fifty meters away.
Missed targets add either fixed penalty time to the final time or require penalty laps on a 180 meter loop.

Summer Biathlon is a combination of cross country running and rifle marksmanship.
Competitors run without rifles, however.
They leave rifles at the shooting range, which is either 25 meters or 50 meters in length,
and pick them up to shoot during the race.
Air rifle (pellet gun) competitions are a variant with a typical 10 meter distance to the target.
In some race formats missed targets require running a penalty lap,
and in others target hits subtract 30 seconds from the final race time.

Biathlon competition uses .22 caliber rifles,
except for some summer events which have .177 caliber air rifles.
A race have an even number of stops to shoot prone and standing.
An athlete will shoot at five metal targets at each shooting stop.

I get the most questions about rifles.
A biathlon rifle is a .22 caliber rifle, with mechanical sights,
five shot magazines, and a form of bolt action.
No optical sights are allowed.
Often biathlon rifles will also have snow covers for sights
and the end of the barrel, to keep snow out.
Rifles are outfitted with a hand stop and sling for shooting prone,
and a backpack harness for wearing the rifle while skiing.
Trigger weight must be more than 500 grams, and the rifle must be heavier than 3.5 kilograms.

Currently I divide rifles I see at races into three groups
based on price range: entry, amateur, and olympic.
Often clubs already have rifles that you can use, find a club near you and ask.
The downside of using a club rifle is that it
may not fit you well (especially if you're left handed)
and might not be sighted for you during a race.

The common entry market rifle is the marlin 2000 modified for biathlon.
There is a kit which adds a backpack sling and magazine carrier.
I'm not sure if Marlin is still selling the 2000 model.
Find a dealer from their web site.
If not, it's likely you could find one from the biathlon community.

The most common amateur rifle that I've seen lately
is the Baikal 7 made by Ishmash in Russia.
This rifle has been selling in the US for about $1000 US.
If has a quick level bolt for fast reloading.
Compared to the olympic rifles this one is a great value.

Anshutz sells a 1451 model biathlon rifle in this price range as well,
though I haven't seen any at events.
Let me know if you have any experience with them.

The king of the olympic rifles is the Anshutz Fortner biathlon rifle.
By far the majority of the world class athletes use this rifle
or the barrel from this rifle with another action like the Baikal.
Unfortunately this will cost you
about $2500 US with the basic accessories.
I noticed a few athletes on the German team
using lever action rifles from Krico or Suhl as well.
The lever action rotates the grip to reload.

Dealers for these rifles:

Neal Johnson in Colorado
Champion Shooters in Ohio
K.G. Larson in Norway

Accessories and Ammunition

Rifles don't always come with all the necesssary accessories,
make sure to ask what you're getting.
Anshutz rifles don't usually come with a rear sight for example
and you'll need to buy that separately.

Biathlon magazines hold five rounds,
and most will have additional space for carrying three more rounds
which can be removed manually from the bottom.
The five round limit is important for safety,
so an athlete doesn't accidentally ski with a loaded magazine.
The extra rounds can be removed manually
and are in case of a misfire and as extra shots in the relay format race.

Biathletes buy expensive ammunition,
though there's no rule for which manufacturer is best.
Common mythology is that certain rifles
shoot certain brands of ammunition better than others,
so you should try different types and see what works for you.
I recommend ammunition from Eley, Fiocci, and Federal.
Do not buy super-sonic ammunition,
as you'll damage the metal targets.
Super-sonic is actually less accurate
at the biathlon shooting distances anyway.
Make sure to buy sub-sonic.

Expect to pay between 10 cents to 25 cents US
per round for competition quality ammunition.
I train with middle of the road quality ammunition as a result,
and save the good stuff for races.

This rifle is a duplicate of the
one-piece walnut stock also featured on our website.
It was built for the same owner as a "backup" rifle.
Features include one-piece beech construction
with palm swell and cheekpiece of cocobolo.
The butt plate was requested to help with better positioning in prone
and standing and features dual, adjustable hooks.
An Izhmash action is re-barreled with an Anschutz Sprint Nitride barrel.
Anschutz sights complete this custom package.

Last edited by aom22; 06-16-2008 at 01:09 AM. Reason: Edit Text, Reorder Posts
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