Competitions

For those considering entering biathlon races it is advisable to have entered a number of cross-country races first. They will provide much of the biathlon experience, e.g pre-race preparation, skiing at race pace and skiing in a crowd, without the additional issues of carrying and operating a rifle under race conditions.

It is worth noting that cross-country races are normally substantially longer than biathlon races so you may want to select a shorter race (or only race hard for the first 10km or so). There are rollerski races in the UK as well as public races and Masters race on-snow abroad.

Rollerski Races

There are a couple of race series and in addition some clubs will arrange more local events. There is no compulsion to compete in the series, it is fine to do 1 or 2 races if you wish.

Generally rollerski races in the UK are aimed at all levels (upto Nordic Development Squad), with new racers welcome.

Not all rollerski courses are equal so depending upon your ability and fitness you might want to ask around about best race to try first. At some events (e.g local club or races coincident with SSE rollerski courses) you can hire equipment. Also, some races are done on ‘matched rollers’ so you will be provided with rollerskis.

It is worth noting that cross-country races are normally substantially longer than biathlon races so you may want to select a shorter race (or only race hard for the first 10km or so). There are rollerski races in the UK as well as public races and Masters race on-snow abroad.

Biathlon racing on rollerskis in the UK are currently performed using laser rifles. The rifles are provided so you only need rollerski equipment.

Races are provided by Wessex Biathlon & Nordic Ski Club (http://www.wessexbiathlon.org).

There are many on-snow cross-country ski races open to the ‘public’. Many organised by local ski clubs. The following are the most accessible for the UK skier.

The two major series are the Worldloppet (a series of World ski races) and Euroloppet (a series of European ski races)

Further details:

http://www.worldloppet.com

https://www.euroloppet.com/en.html

This Masters (age group racing) event is held in a different country each year (and at different times of the winter season as a result). It provides events for both ski techniques over three distances. There is the opportunity for a relay if enough competitors from GB enter. GB entrants must belong to the British Masters Cross-Country Ski Association (BMCCSA).

BMCCSA details: https://www.bmccsa.org.uk

Held at the Chiemgau-Arena (Ruhpolding), GER this event is organised by the Army Winter Sports Association but is open to all. It is normally held end of

Further details: https://www.awsa.org.uk/nordic/

AWSA: https://www.awsa.org.uk.

International On-Snow Biathlon Races

International On-Snow Biathlon races open to the ‘public’ are a significant undertaking. The issues associated with transporting rifles and safe, autonomous, range operation making them even more of an undertaking than ‘public’ on-snow cross-country ski races.

Whilst first timers are encouraged to participate in these events, the events are run on the basis that the entrants are competent in the two disciplines. They are not ‘have a go’ events.

Therefore, as an aspirant first time biathlon racer, you would normally have participated in on-snow cross-country ski races and be competent with a biathlon rifle on a range, including the following:

  • Safe operation of biathlon rifle
  • Entering and leaving prone and standing stances with rifle on from a moving start (not necessarily wearing rollers or snow skis if you’re competent cross-country skier and prepared to use practice sessions to refine transition)
  • Autonomous operation with rifle on range, including misfires and hand feeding rounds
  • Experience of zeroing rifle with a spotter (be aware that usually the range will be busy, time limited and you’ll be sharing the lane with other competitors, so self-spotting is not a suitable option for first time racer)

Normally you would have to provide your own rifle (as well as ski equipment), but you may be able to hire a rifle from the event organiser (if they are satisfied you are competent with one).

As a consequence of these factors it would be normal to go to your first on-snow competition with an experienced biathlete. In the first instance they should also be able to assess if you are of a standard to compete in the event. At the event itself they will both fill in the gaps in your knowledge, as well as perform some support tasks e.g spotter for zeroing, attending race meetings and ski waxing (if you’re lucky!).

When you think you are ready to consider competition your biathlon course instructors or the BBU should be able to give advice on who might be able to support you.

The following events are the most accessible for the non-Elite UK biathlete:

British National and Army Championships

Held at the Chiemgau-Arena (Ruhpolding, Germany) this event is organised by the Army Winter Sports Association (AWSA) but is open to all. It is normally held early February.

Further details: www.awsa.org.uk/nordic

AWSA: www.awsa.org.uk

Biathlon Masters International Championship

This Masters (age group racing) event is held at the Kontiolahti stadium (Finland), normally in the middle of March. Two distances of race are provided, Sprint (2 range visits) and Individual (4 range visits). There is the opportunity for a relay if enough competitors from GB enter.

The courses skied vary with your age group, maps and profiles are provided on the website below. However, based on experience of previous GB competitors, the following gives an indication of skiing ability required to enjoy this event:

  • Ability to ski (skate technique) continuously for 10km over undulating terrain (including ‘black’ sections for men under 60) at, at least an average speed of 12kph (men under 60) or 9kph (men over 60 and women). For men under 60 this should include continuous ascents of 250m with 10% average gradient (5 times for under 40 and 2 times for 40-59)
  • Have general ski control e.g able to control speed/ adjust course on downhill, step/ skate turn and enter/exit classic tracks whilst moving
  • Experience of skiing in event with large number of mixed speed skiers sharing course (see International On-Snow Cross-Country Races)
  • Experience of zeroing rifle with a spotter (be aware that usually the range will be busy, time limited and you’ll be sharing the lane with other competitors, so self-spotting is not a suitable option for first time racer)

Buying Equipment

Biathlon Rifle

It would be normal to get some experience of biathlon before committing to buying a biathlon rifle.

In gaining that experience the providers of biathlon courses or the BBU will be able to provide advice about purchasing biathlon rifles and, if purchasing a live rifle rather than laser rifle, the gun licence and rifle transport process.

Cross-Country

Cross-country ski clubs and course suppliers should be able to give advice about purchasing rollerski or snow ski equipment. There are also usually good suppliers in cross-country ski resorts who will be able to advice (and sell to) you.

Most UK rollerski course suppliers provide kit hire for the course and there is often good quality equipment for hire at cross-country ski resorts. Providing you the opportunity to get an idea of what you should buy.

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