Biathlon Air Rifle Shooting Overview
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Biathlon Air Rifle Shooting Overview

November 18, 2019

The rifle that we’re demonstrating with today is a .177 caliber air rifle made by Air Arms specifically for biathlon. We follow three rules of firearm safety. The first rule is that the rifle is always pointed in a safe direction. So in the sport of biathlon, that means straight up in the air as this rifle is now, or downrange at the targets when you’re on the shooting mat. Those are the two safe directions. The second rule of safety is you always keep your finger off the trigger at all times. The best way to do that is to just keep your finger outside of this trigger guard area at all times. Keep that pointer finger straight, and
you’ll never risk it accidentally being on the trigger. The last rule we follow is we always keep the rifle unloaded until we’ve looked through the sights at the target. The way we do that is using the bolt right here. When this bolt is forward and shut, the rifle, we have to assume, is loaded. When it’s pulled back and open, the rifle cannot fire and it’s unloaded. So we keep it in this back and open position until we look through the sights. In the sport of biathlon, we shoot from two different positions: the prone position, lying down on the mat, and the offhand or standing position. Generally a biathlon race will involve shooting multiple times from each position. The prone position is lying down on the mat, and you’ll notice that her body forms a slight angle to the rifle, and she maintains a straight spine as she lies there. And she’s using her left arm to
support the rifle in the front. Her right arm and elbow provides support for her upper body, and her legs form a bit of a V that stabilizes the rest of her body. The standing, or offhand, shooting position You start with stance. You want to start with your feet a little over a shoulder width apart, with your toes pointed in a direction perpendicular to the targets. She’ll push her hips forward and slightly towards the targets creating a shelf on which she can rest her elbow. This is gonna allow her to transfer the weight of the rifle straight down through her skeleton to the ground and minimize the use of muscles to hold the rifle in place. Just as in the prone position, she has four secure points of contact to the rifle: both hands, the stock is firmly pulled into her shoulder, and her cheek is resting on the cheek rest. So on the most basic level, there’s two
fundamentals of shooting. The first is sight picture or sight alignment and aiming. On these rifles, there’s two components to the sight. There’s a rear sight that’s right here by the athlete’s eye, and that essentially consists of a tiny little pinhole that you’re going to look through, and there’s a front sight up here, which consists of a tube with a small wire aperture. So, we have one, two, three circles or circular holes, and the target is another circle, so we have four circles and the sight picture that we are looking for math on is all of those circles lined up concentric with one another. The second fundamental of
marksmanship is trigger squeeze. The triggers on these rifles require a very
small amount of pressure to fire, and they are two-stage triggers, which means that when you touch the trigger it will move slightly back before the final engagement. Our goal with trigger squeeze is to not disturb our sights from the target when we pull the trigger, and the way we do that is with a very slow and smooth squeeze of the trigger. These rifles use a bolt action to load each
pellet before the shot. You pull it back all the way and push it all the way forward again in between each shot. This resets the mechanism and loads the next pellet. It’s important to breathe normally, exhale and take the shot within a couple of seconds of exhaling. After each shot, the athlete can pull back the bolt, push it forward to load the next round.

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