April 4th, 2014

Great Articles in Free April Issue of Shooting Sports USA

Shooting Sports USA April High Power Smallbore biathlonThe April 2014 Digital Edition of Shooting Sports USA is now available online (for free). This month’s issue has many articles of interest to competitive shooters. The cover story From Smallbore to High Power, profiles Col. Denise Loring, an international smallbore competitor who recently made the transition to High Power shooting. This is an excellent article.

Col. Loring “compares and contrasts” smallbore and High Power, providing fascinating insights into the differences between the disciplines: “I was very nervous about having only two sighters for NRA High Power matches. Then, I heard about the CMP style of HP where there are no sighters and could not believe you could shoot a match without them. We have unlimited sighters in smallbore and I took full advantage of that aspect. In NRA conventional smallbore you can even return to the sighter bull once you have begun shooting for record.”

Shooting Sports USA April High Power Smallbore biathlon

Biathlon — Shooting at 180 Beats Per Minute
There is also an interesting feature on Biathlon shooting. This tutorial covers the basics of this challenging Olympic sport that combines Nordic skiing and smallbore position shooting. This in-depth article profiles the top athletes, explains the rules, and provides interesting details of the hardware: “Most athletes use a Fortner (straight-pul bolt) action, although traditional bolt-action guns are allowed. The rulebook regulates biathlon rifles by minimum width, trigger resistense, dimensions and shape[.] Magazines may be spot-checked before or after an event to ensure they contain only five rounds[.]”

Shooting Sports USA April High Power Smallbore biathlon

The April issue of Shooting Sports USA also includes a complete round-up of 2013 State Champions for all NRA shooting disciplines, from BB Gun to Black Powder Cartridge Rifles.

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February 14th, 2014

Olympics Insight — Anatomy of a Modern Biathlon Rifle

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon actionIf you’ve been following the Winter Olympics in Sochi, no doubt you’ve been watching Biathlon events. This combination of Nordic-style skiing and precision shooting is hugely popular in Europe. Biathlon requires great physical fitness levels, superior marksmanship skills, and of course, a very accurate .22 LR rifle.

This video shows biathletes at previous winter Olympics. Note how the straight-pull actions allow competitors to shoot rapidly without breaking their position (at the 1:00″ mark, the shooter takes five shots in ten seconds). Target racks are located 50m from the firing line. The targets, which flip from black to white when hit, are 45mm (1.8″) in diameter for prone, and 115mm (4.5″) in diameter for standing.

Watch Olympic Biathlon Competition (Archive Footage)

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Biathlon rifles are sophisticated. The top competitors use rigs with slick, straight-pull actions, integrated magazine carriers, and ergonomic stock designs that work well for both prone and standing positions. The advanced slings use “bungee cords” to allow rapid deployment from on-the-back carry position (while skiing) to the shooting position.
Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

One of the most popular Biathlon rifles is the Anschütz model 1827F Fortner. This features a straight-pull action with a two-stage trigger typically adjusted to 550 grams (19 ounces). The sprint version of the model 1827F weighs just 3.7 kg (8.16 pounds). Remarkably, even the magazines are optimized for “high-speed, low-drag” performance: “Shortened 5-shot magazines were laterally incorporated into the stock to reduce the surface on which the wind can act. Non-slip magazine bottoms make the handling of the loading process easier. An additional magazine release lever on the side makes an even faster exchange of the magazines possible.” (Anschütz brochure).

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Anschutz 1827 fortner straight pull biathlon action

Credit Chris Cheng, Top Shot Season 4 Champion, for finding these photos of the model 1827F Fortner on the Anschütz website.

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April 29th, 2013

ISSC SPA 22/17 Straight-Pull Rimfire Rifles Coming in May

ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifle

ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifleISSC will soon be shipping its new SPA 22/17 series of rimfire rifles. These rifles all feature a fast, biathlon-style, Straight-Pull Action (SPA). This allows for rapid cycling without having to lift your head off the stock. Watch the video below and you can see how you can easily work the toggle action with thumb and two fingers. ISSC offers the SPA 22/17 in three popular rimfire chamberings: .22 LR, .22 WMR, and 17 HMR. We think the 17 HMR version of this little rifle would be a great “carry-around” varmint rig. And the “Target” model, as chambered in .22 LR, seems ideal for the popular “Rimfire Tactical” game.

ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifle
ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifle

The Austrian-made SPA 22/17 is offered in three (3) different stock versions: Wood stock (with raised comb), Polymer sporter stock (with Snabel-style fore-end), and a “Target” model (with a folding, Accuracy International-style thumbhole stock). All variants come with 10-round magazines. The rifles are currently offered in three popular rimfire chamberings: .22 LR, .22 WMR, and .17 HMR. The ISSC SPA 22/17 series of rifles is distributed in the USA through Legacy Sports International.

ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifle

ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifle

We’re told that the first shipments of ISSC Spa 22/17 rifles should be arriving by mid-May, with larger shipments scheduled for June, 2013. We expect these rifles to be pretty popular, so you may want to get in line. Here’s a video from Legacy Sports showing how the straight-pull actions work:

ISSC is located in Ried, Austria. The company’s design and engineering work is accomplished at the company’s ESC subsidiary, located in Ulm, Germany.

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March 15th, 2013

Lapua 90th Anniv. Web Site with Contest and Interactive Game

Lapua Anniversary Best Shot Contest PrizeTo celebrate its 90th Anniversary, Lapua has developed a special new web site with many cool features including contests, product videos, and an interactive shooting game. You’ll find an interesting historical timeline recounting the history of Lapua starting in 1923. The timeline covers development of the factory, important product releases, competition successes, and other important milestones.

Click here to visit Lapua’s new 90th Anniversary site.

Submit your “Best Shot” and Win Prizes
On the site, Lapua invites readers to submit a short description of their “best shot” made with Lapua ammo or components: “Sometimes things just click. When did you have your moment of absolute precision? Share it with us…” Prizes will be awarded each month for the most impressive “best shot” stories submitted by readers. CLICK HERE for more info.

Lapua Anniversary Best Shot Contest Prize

Play Interactive Biathlon Game
Site visitors can play an interactive shooting game featuring Biathon rifles and Lapua Polar Biathlon .22LR Ammo (other rifles and shooting disciplines will be added in the future). You’ll want to visit the Biathlon Game Page to see all the features, but we’ve embedded a sample here so you can see how it works. NOTE: you may have to use the scroll bars at the bottom and right sides. (This is because the game format is larger that our Bulletin “real estate”).

Watch Lapua Video

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February 21st, 2013

201,000 Spectators Watch World Biathlon Championships

Can you imagine a shooting match that draws a couple hundred thousand spectators? Amazing right? Well that’s how many people turned out to watch the 2013 Int’l Biathlon Union (IBU) World Biathlon Championships (WBC) recently held in Nové Město in the Czech Republic.

Lapua polar biathlon ammo Tim Burke IBU WBC 2013At the 2013 WBC, event organizers constructed a stadium and filled it with 201,000 spectators to watch the best biathletes in the world. Among national teams at the WBC, Norway dominated, winning an incredible eight of the eleven competitions, including all three relays. Tora Berger and Emil Hegle Svendsen each won two individual events and contributed to the relay Golds. Tarjei Boe added Gold in the mass start. These eight Gold medals were a record for the IBU World Championships; no other nation has been so prolific or dominant.

On the other hand, biathletes from 12 different countries won medals — and that was a new record for medal distribution. In 2011 at Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, 11 nations took home a medal. This year 12 nations won at least one medal. Tim Burke from the USA earned a Silver Medal in the 20K event. This was the first medal for the red, white, and blue since Josh Thompson won the 20K Silver in 1987.

Lapua Polar Biathlon .22 LR Ammo Wins 97% of all 2013 WBC Medals
In the world of precision shooting, it’s unusual for one ammo-maker to completely dominate a major shooting event. But that’s exactly what happened at the 2013 World Biathlon Championships. An amazing 32 out of 33 total medals awarded in Nova Mesto went to biathletes shooting Lapua ammuntion, specifically Lapua .22 LR Polar Biathlon. That works out to 96.9% of ALL medals at this year’s IBU World Championships. Hats off to Lapua for producing the winningest biathlon ammunition ever made.

Lapua polar biathlon ammo IBU WBC 2013

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February 20th, 2012

They Start ‘Em Young in Norway…

Shooting is hugely popular in Norway. Each summer, the Norwegian National Rifle Championship draws 4,000-6,000 participants — an amazing number considering the population of Norway totals just 4.9 million. In Norway, as in Finland (home of Lapua), kids often get started in competitive shooting as early as age 6. In this video, you’ll see four Norwegian kids, Torje (age 8), Anders (age 7), Tonje (age 9), and Mari (age 15) trying out an Izhmash Biathlon rifle.

You’ll be impressed by the steady shooting skills of the youngsters, particularly 8-year-old Torje. He’s a future champion in the making we think.

Here’s another video with 15-year-old Mari, showing her rock-solid form with an Olympic-grade Izmash, using a quick-release arm sling. Note how steady she holds the rifle. This girl can shoot!

The rifles in the videos are both toggle-bolt Izhmash Biathlon guns, made in Russia. Like the German Fortner straight-pull action (used by Anschütz), the Izhmash toggle bolt action allows extremely rapid bolt-cycling. Shooters can quickly eject and reload without disturbing their shooting position or sight picture. The rifle in the first video sold in the USA last year for about $1560.00. That sounds expensive, but it is half the price of an Anschütz Fortner biathlon rifle. Check with AltiusGuns.com for current pricing and availability. The Izhmash Biathlon is offered in two models, the Biathlon 7-4 for adult men and the more compact Biathlon 7-3 for women and juniors. FYI, while the Izhmash 7-3 and 7-4 have not been imported in recent months, MT Guns still has a few LEFT-HAND model 7-4 Biathlon rifles in inventory. Southpaws, if you want one, call MT Guns at (805) 680-0201 before they’re all gone.

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December 23rd, 2011

Magdalena Neuner Named Germany’s Female Athlete of the Year

Magdalena Neuner — Germany’s 2011 Athlete of the Year
Chalk one up for the Germans. While the American media spotlights substance-addicted actresses and foul-mouthed female hip-hop artists as “role models” for young girls, perhaps the most popular young woman in Germany is a healthy, hard-working biathlete named Magdalena Neuner. Miss Neuner was recently named Female Athlete of the Year in Germany (she also received this honor in 2007). The 24-year-old Magdalena was raised in a small village in Bavaria, where she started biathlon training at age nine.

A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Neuner is the most successful woman biathlete of all time, having won 10 World Championships, along with two Overall World Cup Titles. She is the youngest triple-World Champion in biathlon ever. As of December 2011, Neuner has won 26 World Cup races and has achieved 50 podium finishes. (That ranks Magdalena third all-time for career victories.) During five appearances at Biathlon World Championships, Neuner has claimed ten gold and three silver medals. In addition, she has won seven junior world championship titles.

While she is an excellent shot with her Anschütz straight-pull, Fortner action .22LR biathlon rifle, Neuner’s secret of success is her speed. Neuner has always been one of the fastest cross-country skiers in biathlon.

Neuner started biathlon when she was nine years old. After winning numerous junior world championships, she made her World Cup debut in 2006 and won her first World Cup race in January 2007. One month later, she claimed three gold medals in her first appearance at the Biathlon World Championships.

Sadly, it looks like Magdalena will be leaving biathlon next year. Magda recently announced that she would retire from the sport at the end of 2011–12 season, saying that “the time is right for a change” and that she wants to start a family. When not competing, Neuner works as a German Customs Officer.

All photos distributed by Magdalena Neuner’s official website.
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January 27th, 2011

SHOT Show Report: Lanny Barnes, U.S. Olympic Biathlete

Lanny BarnesAt SHOT Show we had the pleasure to talk with Lanny Barnes, a member of the U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team. Along with her twin sister Tracy Barnes, Lanny hopes to compete for Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Lanny and Tracy, who hail from Durango, Colorado, learned to shoot before they could ski. That is unusual in biathlon, a sport dominated by Nordic skiing specialists who typically take up shooting only after they have started winning ski races. Under the tutelage of their father, an avid hunter, Lanny and Tracy started shooting at a very young age. Lanny and Tracy were both crack shots before they became competitive skiers. Lanny still enjoys hunting in the Colorado backcountry.

Lanny Barnes

Biathlon is Hugely Popular in Europe
Lanny gave us some new insights into the biathlon game. While biathlon is not widely followed in the United States, it is the most-watched winter sport in Europe according to Lanny. We were also surprised to learn that top-level biathletes do not try to slow their heartbeats during the shooting segment of the competition. Lanny explained that the best competitors train so they can shoot with their hearts beating about 180 times per minute.

Remarkably, with that rapid heart-rate, the movement of the muzzle is more of a flutter than a distinct, heavy rise and fall. Learning to control the amplitude of the muzzle movement with the rapid heart-beat is one of the secrets to success, Lanny tells us. An ultra-accurate, fast-cycling rifle is also very important. Like most top biathletes, Lanny shoots an Anschütz with a straight-pull Fortner action. Lanny tells us that the straight-pull action has made a big change in the sport, speeding up the firing times dramatically. But since all the top competitors can shoot so quickly with modern rifles, that has put a premium on marksmanship. Miss a shot and you may have to do a penalty loop, which can change your standing from front-runner to back of the pack.

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Check out the Twins’ Website (Donations Welcome)
Learn more about Lanny and Tracy Barnes on the twins’ website, www.twinbiathletes.com. Though biathlon is a winter sport, Lanny and Tracy train year-round. This requires great commitment and dedication. The Barnes’ quest to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics also demands a significant budget. If you wish to help Lanny and Tracy in their bid to represent the USA in 2014, you can make a donation (via PayPal) on www.twinbiathletes.com.

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February 23rd, 2010

Biathlon Enhanced — Hollywood Action-Movie Style

We are pleased to see shooting featured in the Winter Olympics — as part of the biathlon competition. But for those accustomed to Hollywood action movies, biathlon events may seem a little slow… even boring. In the spoof video below, one TV producer shows how Biathlon events could be “spiced up”, Hollywood-style, to generate higher audience ratings:

Credit goes to Steve of The Firearm Blog for finding this YouTube gem. And folks, we know that shooting sports should always be taken very seriously… but we couldn’t resist passing this video along… everyone needs a chuckle now and then. Remember it is satire, designed to mock Hollywood’s fascination with violence. (Definition of satire: “trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly.”)

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February 19th, 2010

European Kids Start Biathlon Training at Young Age

If you have been watching the Winter Olympics, you’ve probably seen some coverage of Biathlon, a challenging sport that combines Nordic skiing and rimfire shooting. It takes years of training to produce a world-class Biathlete. In many European countries, future biathletes may start their training in grade school — like little leaguers do here in the USA. For example, in Norway, kids often get started in competitive biathlon as early as age 6. Basically, some youngsters start the sport as soon as they’re big enough to strap on skis and to hold the rifle. In this video, you’ll see four Norwegian kids, Torje (age 8), Anders (age 7), Tonje (age 9), and Mari (age 15) trying out an Izhmash Biathlon rifle.

YouTube Preview Image

You’ll be impressed by the steady shooting skills of the youngsters, particularly 8-year-old Torje. He’s a future champion in the making we think.

Here’s another video with 15-year-old Mari, showing her rock-solid form with an Olympic-grade Izmash, using a quick-release arm sling. Note how steady she holds the rifle. This girl can shoot!

YouTube Preview Image

The rifles in the videos are both toggle-bolt Izhmash Biathlon guns, made in Russia. Like the German Fortner straight-pull action (used by Anschütz), the Izhmash toggle bolt action allows extremely rapid bolt-cycling. Shooters can quickly eject and reload without disturbing their shooting position or sight picture. The rifle in the first video is sold in the USA by Russian-American Armory for about $1400.00. That sounds expensive, but it is less than half the price of the top-of-the-line Anschütz Fortner biathlon rifle. The Izhmash Biathlon is offered in two models, the Biathlon 7-4 for adult men and the more compact Biathlon 7-3 for women and juniors.

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February 12th, 2010

Winter Olympics: USA Biathlon Team Hopes for Medals

The 2010 Winter Olympics kick off tonight in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Shooting sports fans should follow the USA Biathlon team, which is considered the strongest group of American biathletes ever. Tim Burke, a top finisher in recent Biathlon World Cup events in Europe, is one of the favorites to collect a medal in Vancouver. That would be quite an accomplishment. Thus far, no American has ever won an Olympic Biathlon medal. Burke hope to change that. In the video below, Tim explains his training methods and his love for the sport. Definitely watch this video (produced by Time.com). Tim shows off his shooting skills and the reporter even tries out Tim’s Anschütz rifle. In an entire day of training, Tim only missed one target.

WATCH This Video — It Does a Great Job Explaining the Sport
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While the American team is strong, it will face tough competition from the Europeans. Biathlon is far more popular in Europe than it is in the USA. In fact Biathlon is the #1 televised winter sport in Europe. Nonetheless, the American team has been training hard in hopes of a strong performance. The video below shows members of the USA Biathlon team doing off-season “dry land” training. In the summer months, Biathletes train with special short skis equipped with wheels. They shoot with the same rimfire rifles used in winter events.

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Over 90% of Olympic-level Biathletes use Anschütz rifles, most commonly fitted with a straight-pull Fortner action. These rifles are capable of 1/4 MOA accuracy at 50 meters. Of course, it’s not so easy to hold the guns steady after skiing many kilometers with no time to rest before engaging the targets. That’s what makes Biathlon so challenging. For more information on Biathlon competition, visit the TeamUSA.org website.

Anschutz Biathlon rifles Rimfire

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January 28th, 2010

SHOT Show Report: Anschütz Displays Olympic-Grade Smallbore and Air Rifles

The 2010 Winter Olympics are coming up soon, so we asked Uwe Anschütz to show us the Fortner-Action rimfire biathlon rifle that will be used by the vast majority of top competitors. This high-tech 22LR rifle features a straight-pull action that can be cycled nearly as quickly as a semiautomatic. The rifle is designed to be carried on the back while skiing, then quickly deployed at the shooting stages, where competitors engage banks of targets either prone or standing. Note the slots on the forearm for storing up to four extra 5-round magazines.

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Anschutz Fortner Biathlon rifle

Olympic Medal-Winning Air Rifles on Display
In addition to the Biathlon Rifle, Uwe Anschütz showed us the model 9003 S2 Premium Air Rifle, which features a 9003 S2 action in the Precise aluminum stock. This state-of-the-art airgun earned medals at the 2008 Olympics in China, and it is a favorite of top compeitors worldwide. The model 9002 S2 features a very sophisticated buttstock assembly which with great adjustability. With this metal stock, you can adjust every point at which the rifle contacts the shooter’s body, from shoulder to cheek to hand. Even the angle and fore/aft position of the trigger shoe can be adjusted.

Anschutz Fortner Biathlon rifle

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