The Summer Biathlon is a non-Olympic shooting sport event. It is a combination of running and rifle marksmanship, which is based on the Olympic Winter Biathlon. Competitors run, rather than ski, a course ranging in distance from 1.5 to 10 kilometers (K), with 5K events being the most common, and shoot at targets that are only 3.5 inches in diameter. The course can cover anything from trails to running tracks or roads. During the event, competitors run to a rifle range twice, where they shoot at five metallic "knockdown" silhouette targets each time. The targets are designed so the average competitor has a reasonable chance to hit five out of 10.
Summer Biathlon Events
The competitions are divided into two basic formats: Sport and Match events. Rifles, ammunition, and a mandatory safety and familiarization clinic are provided to all competitors at Sport events and they are open to all. Match events are held at about 3/4 of all Summer Biathlon race sites (in tandem with a Sport event) and are geared towards the committed Summer Biathlete looking for an added challenge and/or with the goal of National and World Class competition. Match events follow the guidelines of the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) for their format and include 50 meter shooting on 'winter' regulation targets and penalty loops of 100 meters. These Match events require that you have your own rifle and have completed the mandatory safety and familiarization clinic.
Equipment and Costs
Equipment can include a basic .22 caliber target rifles with peep sights, making this one of the easiest and most affordable shooting sports to enjoy. But for more serious competitors, target rifles starting at around $500 and progressing up to $1,200 precision-made rifles are common. Ammunition includes the use of standard velocity .22 caliber target ammo, which is inexpensive and found at almost all outdoor variety stores and shooting retail outlets. A good pair of running shoes and comfortable running clothes compliments the summer biathlon athletes shooting gear needs, plus safety gear. Contest fees are among the lowest for any shooting sport and typically begin at $20.00.
National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)
11 Mile Hill Road
Newtown, Connecticut 06470-2359
Phone: (203) 426-1320
Fax: (203) 426-1087
U.S. Summer Biathlon
P.O. Box 1028
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
Phone: (406) 646-9222
Fax: (406) 646-9433
(Material courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation)