This summer’s Olympic Games let archery enthusiasts watch televised coverage of their favorite sport while giving competitors a lofty goal to work toward. Unfortunately, the summer games only come once every four years – but what if there was an activity that could feed these cravings while we wait for Tokyo 2020? Archery biathlons might be the perfect dish to feed your adrenaline and satisfy your archery hunger.
The archery biathlon takes ideas from different existing sports, and melds them together to create the perfect mix of archery and endurance. The biathlon was officially included in the 1960 Winter Olympic games. Combining cross-country skiing with rifle shooting, biathlons require athletes to stop at various stations and shoot while still wearing their skis. Take this concept, replace the rifle with a bow and arrow, and the biathlon becomes ski archery. Now, take the cross-country ski trails and remove the snow and skis so the athletes are running instead of skiing, and – tada! – ski archery becomes the archery biathlon.
Rapid City Journal (South Dakota) describes an archery biathlon event held in Hot Springs, South Dakota:
“While carrying their bows and arrows, competitors raced to five different targets along the course which featured steep climbs and descents, as well as open straightaways and winding trails through dense cover. Shots with bows ranged from less than 10 yards to up to 50 yards away.” As an added challenge, if a competitor misses a target during an archery biathlon, they must pay some kind of penalty of running extra laps or having extra time added onto their total. The penalty depends on the event.
Minnesota was home to an archery biathlon sponsored by Red Bull and Mathews Inc. in 2015. When asked what prompted the decision to create this competition, Ryan Sullivan, Red Bull’s marketing manager, told Gear Junkie:
“We were intrigued by the growth in archery. In Red Bull fashion we wanted to execute an event that combined not only the skill aspect of archery but also endurance.” A competition also took place in Washington State in July.
Running an archery biathlon requires a balance between adrenaline and precision, demanding that the athlete keep a fast pace while remaining calm enough to aim and shoot their arrow. Running and archery require a degree of discipline that only comes with practice and patience. Marathons are already a popular form of exercise and competition, but archery biathlons allow your mind and body to work in tandem to overcome mental and physical obstacles.
If this story has piqued your interest and you’d like to try running an archery biathlon in your city, start by incorporating running into your existing archery routine. Next time you’re working through a 3-D archery course, try jogging or running between targets instead of walking. This will increase your endurance and your heart rate, and help your body acclimate to arrowing archery targets under the simulated conditions of an archery biathlon.
If the Rio Olympics made you crave a new sport, try archery or an archery biathlon event. Newbie or pro, the sport presents archers of all skills levels with new challenges depending on their archery goals.