GRANBY, COLORADO - The Colorado National Guard Biathlon Team executed its pre-season training camp and team try out at Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby, Colorado, Dec. 17-19, 2021.
Nine Colorado Army National Guard Soldiers participated in the training camp.
The camp was an opportunity for returning athletes to refresh their skills and refine their shooting and skiing technique. For new athletes it was a chance to try the sport for the first time on challenging terrain at an elevation of 8,800 feet.
Biathlon combines cross-county skiing and rifle shooting into a mentally demanding endurance sport over varying distances on a closed course. The object is to ski the course in the shortest time while hitting the greatest number of targets. If an athlete misses a target, a penalty lap of 150 meters is added to the athlete’s skiing distance and must be skied before the athlete can return to the racecourse. The sport demands physical fitness, shooting ability, mental toughness, and resilience.
The three-day snow camp included instruction on skate skiing techniques, rifle safety, and marksmanship training. Soldiers practiced the fundamentals of skiing over challenging terrain while wearing a 12-pound rifle on their backs. Soldiers also practiced shooting targets with their .22 caliber rifles at 50 meter targets in both prone and standing positions.
Athletes from the Wyoming and Utah National Guard joined Colorado’s team.
The 2021 snow camp was the first chance for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Lindsey Lopez, a human resource specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Colorado Army National Guard, to experience the sport of biathlon.
“Snow camp was amazing, and it was a great introduction to the sport. The sport can be intimidating, but I really appreciate the support of the rest of the team,” Lopez said. “I am looking forward to the upcoming season where I can gain more confidence, fall a little less, and compete against other Soldiers.”
Lopez became interested in the sport after she learned about it from a friend and member of the Minnesota National Guard Biathlon Team. She signed up for Colorado’s team when announcements went out to the force in the fall.
U.S. Army Capt. Bailey Bullock, operations officer, 193rd Military Police Battalion, Denver, is a third-year returning athlete.
Bailey said he is happy to be to be back on the snow after a couple of years away due to deployment.
“Snow camp is a good opportunity for me to refresh my ski technique and focus on some areas of improvement, especially balance,” he said. “This year was the first time I was truly confident on the skis.”
Bullock led the team in ski instruction and marksmanship training during portions of the snow camp.
“I was impressed with the new athletes,” he said. “They picked up the ski technique quickly and maintained their motivation and positive attitude despite the frustration of learning a new sport.”
Like Lopez, Bullock said he is looking forward to getting out on the racecourse, skiing more, and improving in the sport this season.
The team’s next planned competition is the Chief, National Guard Bureau Championship in February 2023 at Camp Ripley, Minnesota. The CONG team members said they hope to field a full men’s and women’s team to compete against other National Guard teams from around the nation.
The CONG Biathlon Team is always considering new athletes. If you are interested in participating in the 2023-2024 season, contact Lt. Col. Chip Hahn at firstname.lastname@example.org