11 Comments

  1. Oi! and the only winter Olympic sport I pay any attention to! Cross-country rocks (as Hemingway said, if you didn’t climb up the hill you don’t deserve to ski down it.) Nice article… it was a better sport when it was full-power rifle instead of .22. And the presence of an officer with a handgun to execute the deserters (to encourage the others) certainly adds some spice to the event. Especially neat is the mention of 6.5 ski rifles… in the early 90s when the Swedes dumped a bunch of 6.5 Mausers on the surplus market I remember seeing some adds in Shotgun News for heavy-stock peep-sight bull-barrel rifles in 6.5 x 55 that were probably made for some kind of full=power biathalon competition. We had a cross-country ski route across some abandoned farmland in Connecticut with metal-silloute chicken targets to shoot at with our holstered .22 bull-barrel Ruger autos. Big fun, and if they ever make the Pistol Biathalon an Olympic event I nominate my old shipmate Dave for the New Jersey team.

  2. Now that’s a real sport! When I finish a biathlon, I feel like a million bucks. Honestly, triathlons are easier.
    I’d love to round up enough people to do it the old way, though: classic skis and military bolt action rifles. Someday…

    Anyone have photos of old biathlon guns? There are some cool ones, like the Soviet 6.5mm Mosin Nagant.

  3. In our Scout Troop the boys do a “limited” biathalon at a local Scout camp. There aren’t enough skis but there are pleny of snow shoes. They trek through the snow in relays, out and back from the rifle range 500 yds. The rifles must stay on the range so they carry a weight substitute – black iron pipes. The range is short – 50 feet and the rifles are single shot .22 cal. Their targets are charcoal briquets glued to cardboard. Yet it is still a challenge. Scoring is best time and penalties for misses. They have a great time, lots of cheering as each Patrol competes against the other. When laying down to shoot after 500 yds on snowshoes they get a very clear understanding on the importance of “breath, relax, aim and squeeze”. Great article Ian. I’ll share it with the boys – their Biathalon is next Saturday.

    • Very cool! I did have the chance to participate in a summer biathlon a few years ago – mountain biking and pistol shooting. As with your Troop, we left the pistols at the range – wouldn’t want to fall off the bike and land on your gun (ow!).

    • Hi, Tom :

      Are the lads in your Scout Troop using Cricket or Chipmunk bolt-action rifles in .22LR? Those are wonderful little guns that bring back a lot of fond memories.

  4. In the 1990s, a Canadian distributor (Marstar??)imported 6.5x54R Russian biathlon rifles, both the modified and rebarreled Mosin Nagants, and the commercial Izhmash “Vostok” biathlon rifles in the same caliber–which is a modified 7.62x54r round, not one of the other, similar, 6.5 rimmed calibers.
    The Izmash rifle does not use the Mosin action, instead is a modified Mauser type.
    Several of those rifles have ended up in the US in the hands of collectors.

  5. Hi, boyz….. I own a Carl Gustafs Match Model ’63… a heavy rifle… I was just wondering about those champions using it in the past. Nowadays rifle are carried on a comfortable hi-tech shoulder rack, but back then they just carried it on shoulder strap…. I am thinking about that heavy gun bumping on your back at every step while pushing on the cross-country skis on the typical alternate nordic-step… uh uh

Leave a Reply to Tom Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.


*