Bucket List Item: Skiing and Shooting (at the same time, i.e., biathalon)

I have cross country skied before, both for recreation and (one time) to get to work during a snow storm when I lived in South Bend, Indiana. It is surprisingly fun.

I have also gone target shooting with a .22 rifle before. Plinking steel, paper squirrel targets, balloons, cans, ketchup packets — having fun is no surprise there.

Shooting a Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 rifle
Sandy shooting steel targets at 100 yards with a Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 rifle

With the Winter Olympics underway, there is a new item on my bucket list: cross-country skiing and shooting, at the same time. That is, BIATHALON.




I stayed up much too late last night watching Belarusian Darya Domracheva win the women’s individual biathalon 15K gold medal in Sochi on NBC’s website. I couldn’t stop watching!

As I noted in a previous post, if you say “shooting sports” in most parts of America, people will think of practical pistol matches like those sponsored by the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) or International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), or so-called “3 Gun” matches (pistol, rifle, shotgun), or Cowboy Action Shooting, or shotgun sports like trap, skeet, and sporting clays.

But target shooting has been a legitimate shooting sport for decades, as seen in the Olympics. Although shooting in the Winter Olympics is not as old as in the Summer Games, men first competed in biathalon in the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley and women joined them in 1992 in Albertville.

Prior to that, an event that combined skiing and shooting called “military patrol” was a medal event in the 1924 Olympics, and a demonstration event in 1928, 1936, and 1948.

Watching biathalon this week makes me think that skiing and target shooting are like biscuits and gravy, cornflakes and milk, chocolate and peanut butter: two good things that are made better together.

Now, if someone would just buy me some cross country skis and one of those Anschutz target rifles that 95% of biathaletes use.

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