Possibly due to better marketing by various Olympic biathlon teams about the challenge of sprint skiing and then shooting a very small target from the off hand position, I’ve never seen more interest in the sport by Americans.
Here’s an example of one of the videos going around:
And here’s another:
I don’t compete, just in case your wondering, but I respects the sport based on creating highly mobile dismounted infantry. The summer Pentathlon also has a very militant history, although focused more on the Cavalry discipline.
However, kitting out a winter biathlon competitor is expensive, an Anschutz biathlon rifle starts around 2,500 dollars (or more) and even the “cheap” Izmash toggle bolt biathlon rifle generally goes for about 800 US or more. Before you look at a Browning T-Bolt as a cheaper alternative, you’d end up spending so much on a custom stock, having the barrel modified to take diopter globe front sights, and all the rest that it’s not a viable option.
However, if you want to re-create the biathlon in a more “standard climate” version, all you need is an air rifle, scaled air rifle target, and a set of running shoes (although normal running clothes would be recommended).
What is a summber biathlon, and some variations on how to run an event: http://www.biathlon.net/summer.html
If you’ve been in the military and this seems a lot like a “stress shoot” that’s because it’s exactly the same concept, how to shoot accurately when your body is aching, heart is pounding, and you are rushed for time.
One key difference between the winter biathlon and summer biathlon is that competitors don’t carry the rifle, that is maintained at the shooting station. I personally think that a very good variant for training is taking a standard 400 meter/quarter mile running track and setting up a 10m air rifle shooting station (with appropriate backstop) is a great way to “git ‘er done” right quick. Every lap gets a shooting session, and the number of laps can vary to get a lot of participants through pretty quick.
The summer biathlon being air rifle friendly is also “turn bolt” rimfire friendly. Since amateur athletes without Olympic dreams are just in it for the sport, a cheap Savage or CZ with diopter sights is just fine for informal or club level competition.
I hope everyone is enjoying the Olympics, and feeling inspired to be the best version of themselves, especially as it means pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. And maybe, if you know a youngster who loves to run and loves to shoot, you can help them combine the two.