The National Guard Biathlon is an event that combines cross country skiing with precision target shooting. During this Winter “race”, Soldiers are required to ski with their rifle and equipment over a set distance to a shooting range, where five shots at five knockdown targets down range and are typically taken from the prone position.
Depending on the format, either a time penalty or penalty laps are assessed for missed shots. The Soldier then finishes another lap, and comes back to the shooting range for another set of shots – this time from a standing stance. Again penalties are assessed for missed shots. The bi athlete then completes one last final loop to complete the Biathlon. The challenge in such an event lies in battling the cold, wind and your own heartbeat while trying to squeeze off a precise shot.
The rich history of this event can be traced back to mountain ski regiments found in Scandinavia and Russia in the 1500’s. Closer to the 19th century Germany, Austria and Switzerland also had Soldiers on patrol with skis in the mountains. The first actual organized competitions that took place were in Norway in 1776. These were team events that combined shooting skill with skiing.
Competitions were held roughly every year between 1792 and 1818. Around 1912, again in Norway, the team competition was joined by an individual format race during which ten rounds were fired in two shooting bouts. In the rest of Europe, Germany’s first military patrol races were held in 1902. Although the Biathlon is a typical Winter Olympic event, the National Guard has continued the true biathlon which has a deep military history and lineage.
For more information about the current Biathlon schedule, team members, etc. check out their Facebook page here.
Have you ever competed in this event? Tell us about it please. Thank you.