For some people, marksmanship is their casual hobby. It helps them relieve stress and keep a check on just how accurate their target eye still is.
But aside from letting off some steam or testing out your eyesight, guns have another important purpose. No, it isn’t defense – at least not in the context of this conversation. For those who enjoy marksmanship as a hobby, sometimes the fun pastime can become competitive.
Shooting ranges and competitions are popular ways for gun lovers to test their skills against others who share the same passion.
But the use of a rifle in competition isn’t always what we’d expect. Some people are unaware that shooting is a part of various types of sporting events. One example is the winter biathlon, which sees participants take to the slopes on cross-country skiing challenges followed by rifle shooting challenges.
It may seem like an odd combination, but it is one many people participate in. It even has its own custom gun – the biathlon rifle. This unique weapon is made for competition – but how exactly is it constructed and how do you use one?
Today we’ll talk about the biathlon rifle and show exactly how to handle this unique piece of artillery in your next competition.
What Exactly is a Biathlon Rifle? What Makes it Unique?
Anyone who sees a Biathlon rifle may be confused at first. They may think they’ve gone back in time, or stumbled into some type of antique engineering workshop.
The vintage look of this rifle is a byproduct of its sophisticated design. The biathlon rifle is designed to work with very particular components, meaning the construction is custom-built for the task at hand. But what exactly sets it apart from a regular rifle?
For one, the rifle uses slick straight-pullback mechanisms for more accurate shooting. The stock and magazine carriers are both custom designed for comfort in prone and standing positions. With biathlon athletes needing to access their rifle quickly after getting off the slopes, the bungee-style slings are also an important component of the gun.
Let’s discuss one of the most popular Biathlon rifles on the market – the Anschutz 1827F Fortner .22LR. This model uses the biathlon rifle’s straight-pull action mechanism and a two-stage trigger. It is common to adjust the trigger on this model to 550 grams or 19 ounces. It weighs just over eight pounds, with all components being optimized for high-speed performance with minimal drag.
It’s the small touches that make the Biathlon rifle so unique. For example, this model saw its original magazine size shortened to five shots, allowing for better handling and providing less surface for wind interference.
Even the magazine release lever located on the side of the weapon is in optimal position for easy handling and simple maintenance.
But how exactly does a person use this type of weapon? Even those who have experience handling standard firearms may need some pointers on how to use a biathlon rifle.
Learning How to Use the Biathlon Rifle
Anyone who has ever fired a rifle at a target knows that hitting the bullseye is no easy task. Now imagine doing so after finishing up a skiing expedition – that’s a whole new layer of complexity.
Think about the pressure – you’ve just finished speeding down a snowy, icy hill. You’re racing against the clock and possibly a dozen or so competitors. You’re dealing with a lot of stress. Your heart is pounding, your mind racing, your breath heavy – and now you have to pull the rifle off your back, line up a shot, and hit the target as a part of your competition.
Sometimes a biathlon athlete can be tasked with shooting a stationary target no bigger than a silver dollar. In other instances, they’re required to fire clay targets flying through the air at around 50 meters away.
Talk about a tough task! But there are ways to make it easier. The main way to go about this is to learn your weapon beforehand. Good gun etiquette says you should be familiar with any weapon you wield – but a unique choice like the biathlon rifle could take more time to get used to.
Here are some steps to learn how to use the rifle properly –
- Learn the Gun: Learn your rifle inside and out. Study it, learn the individual parts, and be prepared to break it down then build it back up. Once you have a better feel for the weapon, you’ll be more capable of using it.
- Make Sure the Setup is Right: Everyone’s body is different, and that’s why guns are customizable in many ways. Everything from the position of the scope to the angle of the shoulder rest can be adapted for a more comfortable shot. This can depend on the weapon, but it is more often true than not.
- Get into Position: Hold the gun with your preferred hand, letting your elbow opposite your trigger finger rest along your hip.
- Fire then Rechamber a Bullet: Once you pull the trigger, use the push-pull mechanism with the same hand (preferably the index finger) to put another bullet in the chamber when you’re ready for the next shot.
After you make your shot, you’ll need to put the rifle back on your back and head on to your next shooting destination. With a lot of moving parts and customization options, the Biathlon rifle is one of the most impressive-looking guns out there.
But it is also built with several design goals in mind. These design goals are built with the intent of making the gun function better in the tough environment and unique application.
What Features Does the Rifle Have?
When we think about rifles, we picture a few things. A sleek appearance, a durable design, and a level of attention-to-detail that can breed nothing but accuracy.
But as we’ve mentioned, this rifle has some unique requirements. One of those is the ability to fire and maintain stability. Shooting between heartbeats may seem like nothing more than a hyperbolic statement – how could any gun have such precision?
This rifle achieves it with good balance and its specially designed loading system. Such a system makes it easy for those athletes who are breathing heavily and possibly shaking to fire the trigger and keep their aim without issue.
These rifles are also designed for their environment. Obviously, extremely cold temperatures are something that biathlon rifles need to be able to withstand. Guns with the right components will be able to perform well even if the temperature drops below zero.
Since there is no optic scope allowed in most competitions, the iron sights are another popular feature of the rifle.
Even seemingly minor features like barrel covers are important. They have the critical task of making sure snow and moisture don’t seep into the barrel. And of course, given the task at hand, these covers need to be removable without a struggle.
As we’ve seen, the Biathlon rifle is a unique weapon that takes some time to get used to. But for the person who has a history in marksmanship, how easy could they adjust?
How Easy Can Gun Users Adapt to the Biathlon Rifle?
The rifle may look odd – but it would be more accurate to call it unique. That’s because it is built for a specific task. It’s still a gun, though, so how quickly could gun fans adapt to its unique style?
For many people, all rifles are similar. Sure the weight, balance, and length may be unique on each gun, but the feel of a rifle remains constant despite the minor changes between them. For those who are familiar with rifles, getting used to a biathlon rifle would be easier.
They’d already feel comfortable holding a gun of that size, so they’d be more likely to have the correct posture and be more composed taking their shot.
How does this bode for their chances as a true biathlon competitor, though? While being good at shooting or familiar with guns is helpful, it doesn’t do a person any favors in the area of skiing or in keeping themselves more composed for a shot after strenuous physical activity.
But what about those who are athletes and have never been too keen on guns – could they make the transition to become a successful biathlon athlete?
Learning the Rifle as a First-Time Shooter
For those who love competitive athletics, biathlons may seem appealing even if a person has never shot a gun before.
Even without extensive firearms experience, it is possible to translate into biathlon-style competitions with enough practice. The trick would be practicing both events, and then learning to get so good at both they can be performed within the same competition free of struggle.
While being a biathlon athlete isn’t easy, it is possible with enough hard work. And while the rifle may look complex and intimidating, it is actually built for simplicity and comfortable performance.