February 24, 2021 (CAMP RIPLEY, Minnesota) — Several members of the Minnesota National Guard Biathlon Team are competing in the 15 kilometer Patrol Race Feb. 25, 2021at 10:00 a.m. on Camp Ripley’s biathlon course.
Teams consisting of three shooters and a patrol leader ski a 15K course as a group with each member shooting from the prone and standing positions after each lap in sequence.
Biathlon is one of four National Guard Bureau recognized Joint Force Recreation and Community support programs available to Army and Air National Guard members through the State Qualifying Competitive Events Program. Since the early ’70s, the Biathlon Program has encouraged competitors within the Army and Air National Guard to take part in the sport that develops their professional career and personal growth.
Scandinavian hunters were the world’s first biathletes, but the biathlon was first identified as a competitive event in 1767 when Norwegian border security entities competed against one another. When the sport first appeared in the Winter Olympic Games, it was known as ‘military patrol,’ but the name evolved until the 1950s when it became more known as biathlon.
The rifle, carried on the athlete’s back, should be a .22 caliber and have a minimum weight of 3.5 kg. According to the official IBU rules. Biathletes are only given one bullet per target, so the need for balanced breath and precision is essential. Missed shots result in a penalty, generally 150 meters penalty laps for each missed target. This process repeats itself at each firing range throughout the course.
The biathlon program would go forward to exemplify the fundamental skills this sport brings out in a service member. The ability for troops to be agile and capable of hitting targets precisely while on/off skis proved to be a clever method for military training.
Story by Tony Housey, Camp Ripley public affairs