January 15th, 2017, 07:02 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Good for her. I was not even aware we had a biathlon team anymore, after the NSSF pulled funding.
Back 15 years ago, I was into Summer Biathlon (running and shooting), since much of the US does not have extensive cross country skiing. It was seen as an up/coming sport that was building shooting participation, because weekend races had a lot easier time getting runners to decide to pick up a rifle and try it out than it had convincing riflemen to start running to get into competitive shape. The NSSF saw this, and invested a lot of money to encourage shooting clubs to organize races. It took a lot of work. Having 50 or 60 inexperienced shooters running into the pits, picking up a rifle and shooting meant you needed to have almost 50-60 volunteers, because you needed to have one per lane so no one did something unsafe. Plus, you needed specialized biathlon rifles. NSSF bought these, and were shipping them from race to race at their expense, so they'd show up at a venue on Friday for use over the weekend, and ship back out to the next venue on Monday/Tuesday. Net, it took a lot of effort and money.
I participated in some of the organizational meetings for the sport as well. THere was the perpetual question of if money should be invested in these weekend events to build a grass roots participation, or if the money should be invested in the US Biathlon team, which was a lot more money for a lot fewer athletes, but the thought was that if they started placing in the Worlds, or in the Olympics, it would generate the excitement to get the sport to grow.
Alas, those were the years where lawsuits for criminal actions started being directed against firearm manufacturers, and the NSSF made the strategic decision to support firearms owners by redirecting their funding support to that issue. The result was that Summer Biathlon disappeared, and US Biathlon took a big hit in support.
So I'm glad to hear we are sending our teams out to compete. It would be nice if we won, though the Nordic countries have this as a national sport, while it is still a quirky sport here in the US.