The word biathlon is of Greek origin and means "two tests". The sport of biathlon combines the two sports of skiing and shooting. Athletes must complete a cross country ski race stopping throughout the course to shoot at a series of targets.
The sport is challenging both physically and mentally. It is not just about being the fastest skier, athletes must control their body and relax enough to hold the gun still and hit the target. Then without wasting anytime return to the fast pace of the race.
Youth participation and safety concerns have been issues faced by Biathlon. Many people are reluctant to put children into the sport due to the fact that you have to shoot a rifle. Looking to attract more people to the sport and overcome these obstacles the sport of Paintball Biathlon was born. Inventors hoped to play off the popularity of paintballing amongst young people and create a safer introduction to the sport of biathlon.
In this sport athletes use paintball guns (or laser guns) instead of a regular rifle, which allows the young athletes to understand the fundamentals of biathlon, without the use of a rifle. Making for a great introduction to biathlon; kids can enjoy the fun of shooting the paintball gun while racing to finish first. Paintball (or laser) biathlon serves as a grass root program until the athletes are responsible enough to handle a riffle.
The first paintball biathlon event was held in Vermont in 2006, since then the Nordic sport has seen a large jump in enrollment and events can be found all around the world.
References from the SIRC Collection:
- Grout, P. (2011). Paintball Biathlon. Cross Country Skier, 31(2), p.30.
- Hausermen. (2011).Laser Biathlon Motivates Young Skiers. Cross Country Skier, 31(2), p. 28.