Biathlon & NABA
A new Sport and Organisation for the Kosciuszko Snow Fields


What is Traditional Biathlon
Biathlon is a Winter Olympic and International World Cup sport that combines the two opposing disciplines of cross- country skiing and small bore rifle shooting. Often compared to running 100 metres and then trying to thread a needle, or going from a rabbit to a rock in a matter of seconds. Biathlon combines the physical endurance, strength and balance required for cross country skiing with the mental poise and precision needed to shoot accurately over 50 metres -while the clock is still running. Participants ski a designated ski loop and then ski into the range to fire five shots at five targets. For every shot missed the participant is penalised. Depending on the type of race, the penalty could be in the form of skiing an extra penalty loop, or having an extra minute added to their time. The participant then skis and shoots again, repeating this sequence until the required number of ski legs and shooting bouts are completed.

A full description of the history and current status on Biathlon can be found on the International Biathlon Union, http://www.ibu.at web site.

Biathlon is an exciting sport that challenges participants not only to develop the fitness and coordination needed for cross- country skiing, but also the mental discipline and concentration required to shoot accurately under pressure. Biathlon also teaches people how to use rifles in a safe and non-confronting manner -a point that is emphasised heavily in the sport.

Until now Biathlon events have only been conducted in Australia at Mt Hotham which has been established for 23 years. Mt Hotham is currently the only certified range in Australia where Biathlon events can take place. It is highly unlikely thatany other target ranges for Biathlon will ever be approved since almost all our alpine snow fields are contained within >National Parks.

What is NABA and Faezor Biathlon?
Until now it has not been possible to run Biathlon events in NSW. This is because all cross-country ski areas in NSW are National Parks, in which the use or possession of firearms is completely prohibited. However, the recently formed New South Wales / Australian Capital Territory Biathlon Association, NABA has acquired a revolutionary new technology that will allow such events to take place. This new technology is the Faezor Biathlon System, which uses a state of the art, completely electronic system to simulate the target shooting process. The system is an Australian invention and was developed specifically to handle Australian alpine conditions and meet the stringent safety and environmental requirements of the Kosciuszko National Parks Management.

Faezor Biathlon involves the use of precision electronic target rifles which meet the international regulations for size and weight and are able to be used in the same manner as normal target rifles, but are unable to fire live ammunition. Instead they employ microprocessor and laser technologies, which allow tiny pulses of light to be fired at an optical target which records the amount of hits and misses. These rifles are not firearms and cannot fire live ammunition, and in fact they are even safer than laser pointers often used in lectures. They are extremely safe and ideal for both junior and senior participants, regardless of how experienced they are. Indeed, this safety requirement was one of the criteria set by Kosciuszko National Park Management in order to obtain approval to use the Faezor Biathlon System within the National Park boundaries. The NABA Committee currently consists of members covering the regions of Sydney, Canberra, Illawarra and Monaro.

As a result, the fIrst ever Biathlon events will be held at Perisher Valley in July and August this year. This is an exciting opportunity for people in NSW and the ACT to experience the exhilaration of Biathlon. It is an opportunity for the NSW / ACT community to experience the physical challenge of cross-country skiing combined with the mental challenge that target shooting presents. Also, it is an opportunity for people to learn safe rifle handling in a completely safe and environmentally friendly environment. Faezor Biathlon also gives us the ability to hold Summer Biathlon events virtually anywhere in NSW and the ACT enabling all year round training. Joining NABA is easy and costs only $25 and we are looking for as many members as possible.

Faezor Biathlon System
The electronic target rifles are a precision manufactured unit with a CNC machined aluminium alloy frame, which is anodised distinctive colour, and a 316 stainless steel barrel. All other mechanical components are made from corrosion resistant aluminium or stainless steel, while the cheek, shoulder and hand pieces are all made from solid timber which has been machine contoured. The electronics contains a micro miniature printed circuit board containing a high performance microprocessor and flash memory using surface mount technology. It runs off a small 9 Volt battery which gives around 4000 shots at 25 deg C and 2000 shots at 0 deg C.

The rifles shoot a visible red, class 2 laser pulse signal for 10 milliseconds with each shot and have an action, a trigger and a magazine which function much like a normal rifle. They are very easy to sight in and have a special calibration mode of operation. All the weights and dimensions meet the IBU guidelines for biathlon rifles and they have every feature that come on a top of the range elite biathlon rifles but are about one third the cost.

The targets currently come in a dual detector configuration and can be easily switched to operate in standing or prone target modes of operation either separately or simultaneously. The targets are environmentally sealed in a robust, heavy duty, PVC enclosure and operate over wide ranges of temperature and ambient light levels. The amazing thing about this system is that it works in full midday sunlight during conditions of very high levels of ambient light which are common in the snow fields, yet it detects such a small signal from the rifle which is eye safe. The electronics contains a sophisticated printed circuit board containing a high performance microprocessor, complex programmable logic devices and flash memory using surface mount technology. A LCD display is used to display all the information and the unit can be easily re configured for a variety of modes of operation. It runs off a 12Volt rechargeable battery which will run for around 48 hours between recharges at 0 deg C. It will also interface with a Personal Computer if required. The Faezor Biathlon System can be easily set up anywhere and used safely. Other than replacing a small 9Volt battery in the target rifle every now and then, the running costs for the system are zero, so you can practice as much as you like, anywhere you like, even on roller skis if you want to.

Where and How to participate.
NABA will be conducting demonstration, training and competition events through the season at the Nordic Shelter in Perisher Valley. Equipment will be available for anyone to try this challenging sport and you are welcome to join NABA should you become hooked. The intention is to ultimately have, State and National Championships for this new and exciting sport, with the hope that other countries will also adopt this discipline. However we will also be providing plenty of fun events for those who do not want to compete at the elite level. Off season events will also be organised once suitable venues have been approved in Sydney, Wollongong, Canberra, and Cooma or Jindabyne.

 

Olympic and International Opportunities
Australia has been represented at the Winter Olympics in Biathlon in both male and female competition since the 1984 Olympics. In the past all our representatives have been from Victoria, as that has been where the only competition has taken place. The advent of NABA and Faezor Biathlon now gives the young people of NSW and the ACT the opportunity to strive to represent Australia at International and Olympic level with the best facilities available to them. This represents a great opportunity for many young athletes to excel at one of the most challenging sports available.

More information from Friedl Bartsch


Executive Officer
NSW/ACT Biathlon Association