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Backyard Ski Biathlon: More Fun than You'd Think!
January 25, 2016

Wow, what fun! We just did a little backyard ski biathlon yesterday with our Sheridan pellet gun. Our yard trail has good snow so I re-routed the course to leave half the yard free for a very simple shooting range.

So we'd ski a 5-minute main loop then come around by the house and shoot a couple times at plastic juice bottles that I hung from string on tree branches. Then we'd put the gun down and ski another lap.

The pellet gun is pumped only 3 times for a quiet, low-power result that is still accurate and good for clunking the bottles.

When we made a hit the bottle jumps and swings and there's also a loud "thwack" sound that was easy to hear most places on the course. ...So was a groan from a miss.

If ya miss then there's a little 30-second penalty loop to ski around the bonfire area. Then you keep going for the rest of the main loop.

It was so much more fun than I thought it would be. The nifty thing is the close proximity of the shooting to the skiing. You ski up, quickly get ready to shoot, aim, shoot, put gun down then start skiing again. So there's a weird thing of noticing your heart rate and breathing as you stop and fiddle and aim. Then there's the immediately getting-going again. It's interesting! The flow goes: Action > Stillness and Crisp Detail > Action. The result is an interesting vibe.

Most everything is in sight through the nearby trees due to the smallness of the course. People could be sitting around the bonfire. We could do it at night even, with a halogen stand-light and porch light and headlamps. The shooting, of course, is off to the side a few feet and the targets are set up facing away from the trails. All gun handling and aiming is away from all of the trail portion of the yard. The backdrop for the shooting is the ground, since we're standing on a rise, plus acres of trees. So the bb's or pellet's aren't going anywhere.

One target is 20 yards away. The second is 30 yards. It's pretty easy to miss either so there is a definite feeling of "applying skill" during the shooting part. It's not just a gimme.

So I've learned that biathlon is HUGE in Germany. And it's the most popular winter sport on TV in all of Europe. That's crazy!

Here's a link explaining the popularity:

Magdalena Neuner was the big biathlon star in Germany, and in the whole biathlon world. She won everything and has moviestar appeal. Sweden has another extremely popular woman biathlete.

They fill entire soccer stadiums to watch biathlon! They combine events with firework displays. They even had Magdalena make her entrance flying from an aerial cable!

Well, we can have our own kind of biathlon anywhere we can find the space! I note that our local hunting regulations allow for plinking for fun at State Game Areas and bigger State Parks. So you could find trails on that kind of public land and set up a range.

I think it would be a gas to figure out a way to carry the gun. Some guns have swivels so you could imitate a biathlon sling somehow I suppose.

Magdalena flying into the stadium on the wire.

Schalke stadium in Germany packed for a special Xmas Biathlon event.

Lena doing her thing. In racing they now only do skating in biathlon.

Lena getting ready to shoot.

Modern biathlon racing.

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