You know how to ski. Now here’s how to shoot!
Kanata Nordic has a small Biathlon Bears program (youth racers who shoot air rifles) that it’s been piloting for a few seasons. Here’s an article from one of our current biathletes, along with photos from the Coupe Quebec/Ontario Cup biathlon race hosted by Chelsea Nordiq Feb 24-25, 2018.
Six Fundamentals of Shooting
If you don’t know that much about biathlon, all it is is skiing, shooting, skiing, shooting, and skiing like crazy. Oh! I almost forgot – and it’s fun!
There are the six fundamentals of shooting. It really looks like a book title right? Right? Sorry if I’m getting a bit off topic. Okay here goes:
- prone position
- natural alignment
- sight picture
- breathing control
- trigger control
- follow through
First, face-plant onto the cold mat in the prone position, skis in a V-shape and poles laying over the back of your legs.
Facing the target should feel natural. Don’t muscle the rifle, which means that you should move around your anchoring elbow (you’ll understand when you’re actually shooting which elbow is your anchoring elbow) with all of your body and not try and move the rifle with just your arm muscle, it doesn’t work very well (it doesn’t work at all).
Sight picture is just when your sights are on the target (maybe there’s more, I forget. Just don’t quote me on any of this, ask Coach James).
Okay so breathing control, it explains itself really. When you’re skiing and let’s say 200 meters from the range (the range is where you shoot) slow down. Slow down a bit in speed (and keep slowing down as you get closer) but mostly slow your heart rate down so when you’re shooting you can have great breathing control and not miss your shots. Have a nice, even, steady breathing pace so you don’t mess up your sight picture. Because when you breath in, you move (without trying to, this happens naturally, don’t fight it) the rifle a bit down. When you breath out, the rifle moves a bit up. If you do this correctly then when you are in the middle of exhaling slowwwly (this could be wrong, don’t quote me on this) your sights should be right on the target. Shoot!
The rifles we use are air rifles with little 5-round clips you put in the side of the rifle to load it. They also have a double trigger, so to prime it you pull the bottom trigger. That’s how you prime it. Then to shoot it (this is important) you squeeze the higher trigger (not pull it). Don’t pull it because that would have a very bad impact on your shooting. You want an impact on the target while having good breathing control and a good sight picture while also being relaxed. You want to be relaxed because if you’re tense, you’ll keep shaking, and if you keep shaking you’ll mess up your sight picture. Say you miss your first shot… forget about it. Restart mentally, get a nice mindset, and start shooting again.
Next after you just shot, make sure you have a good follow through. A follow through is when you shoot, and wait a sec and wait for the target to go up (it had better go up). You wait for the target to go up before you move the rifle because when you shoot, the pellet is still in the rifle for a time, but if you move the rifle it affects where the pellet is going. So even if you have a great sight and perfect breathing control, but no follow through, then you miss the target, all the time, time after time after time and it gets really annoying after a while. Also, don’t get annoyed in biathlon, it doesn’t help.
This isn’t a ski class so I’m not telling you where to pass, where to go hard, or where to catch your breath (okay fine… you should be catching your breath before you get to the range so you can have good breathing control and shoot straight). My time in biathlon has been fun and the only not fun time is waiting to start or just sitting around. Other then that it’s great!
Here are some photos of Kanata Nordic’s Biathlon Bears from a race at Chelsea Nordiq Feb 24-25, 2018. For more information on the program please contact coach James McAvoy.