British Biathlon Club
Biathlon is the ultimate multi-disciplinary event: no other sports format concurrently challenges in two contradictory elite international Olympic disciplines (cross-country skiing and marksmanship) to provide the THIRD - "Biathlon: the hunter's art of one-shot one-hit, every time, while under severe physical and mental duress".
On this page, we don't list all our course dates, but we do describe the reasons and methods behind biathlon courses, to better inform anyone thinking of a course for their team, club or just themselves. We can and do run courses at other rifle clubs (biathlon target machines are not absolutely essential for many of the essential skills courses), and we have mobile resources and staff to do this. Like and follow our Facebook page ('British Biathlon Club') and/or contact us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
** NEWS: our next BIG event for your diaries is the annual International Biathlon Boot Camp, first 3 weeks in September 2019. This will be open to all individuals and teams, and we already have development athletes from 3 nations signed up. **
If you need biathlon knowledge and expertise, you’ve come to the right Club: the BBC has been at the forefront of delivering training and competences, and assessing for and awarding national qualifications, since 2002 and earlier, running the British Ski Federation’s Biathlon Managers' Course in the early 1990s.
BBC is unique in having very substantial in-house capability in designing, building and managing biathlon range venues, with over 25 years’ experience as Subject Matter Experts (SME) for the British Biathlon Union (BBU), HQ Land (Army), RAF Biathlon Union (RAFBU) and The Royal Marines Biathlon Team (RMBT).
We have routine in-house courses throughout the year, and we also organise ad hoc and open-to-all courses on demand; so whatever your needs are, get in touch. We welcome visitors to most of our in-house courses and training days, for which the dates are published on our Facebook page “British Biathlon Club”.
Biathlon training courses fall into 3 broad categories: sport (personal skill and performance); leadership & coaching; and technical and management. There are more details on all these categories below.
Whether it’s first steps, elite performance coaching, or training to run competition or small-group ranges, whatever you need – get in touch.
One of many courses we have run -> for aspiring elite biathletes for over 15 years: the GBR National Development Squad, at our East Grange Biathlon Centre (EGBC) (6 of these young biathletes went on to represent GBR at senior level).
EXPERTS IN SAFETY FIRST
Without guidance, biathlon COULD be dangerous, so we all need proper rules, safety, governance and guidelines, and of course impeccable personal individual skills. Safety is integral to all courses we run: our Club officers are not merely 'retired biathletes', they are wise sages with immense records of achievement in life: our biathlon trainers are also well qualified in soft skills and looking after personal needs, and each has immense professional experience in other high-risk safety management domains - aviation, explosives, military operations, expeditionary construction, water sports, etc.
Cross-country skiing is relatively benign, and closely governed by several international governing bodies (FIS, Ski Orienteering, International Military Patrol, etc). So also is ‘standard’ target shooting in many different formats. However, rollerskiing and biathlon’s dynamic shooting offer additional risks, so standardised and graded safety and risk-management training is woven into every course we deliver, right from novices on their first steps to expert coaches and competition range staff.
Biathlon is the perfect medium for management training days and corporate workshops, and not only for the ‘fun experience’. Of course it is marvellously engaging and enjoyable, but by exploring the underlying principles of biathlon - quality of effort, pursuit of excellence, mental application, teamwork, self-perception, group analysis and peer coaching, the serious business of management and personal development can be wrapped in an absorbing day with International Biathlon Union rifles and target systems (ie the exact same equipment you see in televised events like the World Cup and the Olympics). Our technical partner McGill Consultants is a specialist in this sphere.
TYPES OF COURSES AT BBC
Sport courses are for biathlon experience, competences, expertise and performance.
Basic experience is casual participation or ‘biathlon for all’: participants are skill-trained to work in a safe, simplified environment with close supervision, and introduced to understanding the challenges, complexities and magic of biathlon. There are many ways of achieving all this, because a fun and easy ‘biathlon’ event can be virtually any form of physical exercise and/or mental duress combined with almost any form of marksmanship challenge.
Perhaps the most obvious and colourful combination for easy access to the biathlon experience is laser biathlon rifles and rollerskiing (check www.rollerski.co.uk), but there are many others and the only limit is the imagination. We’ve used: rowing machines and military SAT ranges; BMX bicycles and air rifles; and even simple ‘gym circuit’ exercises with AirSoft rifles.
The ‘ultimate’ biathlon experience for the layman is to use real IBU-standard (ie international pattern) rifles with IBU-standard target machines, and the Club provides this at venues around the UK and Ireland. One of the closest competitions we’ve organised was a team challenge between a Rowing Club and a Rifle Club, using rowing machines on the firing point of a live-firing biathlon range: naturally, the lead changed many times as each Club edged ahead on their particular strength in rowing or shooting, and every race resulted in less than 3 seconds of winning margin.
Personal competences are required for all who enjoy biathlon regularly as their chosen sport, particularly as their personal standards of knowledge and safety impinge on others. All this is aligned with current UK legislation for legal personal liability and public safety – and we issue clear certification levels for safety, competence and expertise, allied to essential marksmanship, advanced rifle drills and high-performance race shooting.
We run performance training for committed biathletes’ continuation training – starting out with assessment, benchmarking, and then programmes for pursuing excellence.
<- The mighty Mark 'Fred' Gee, triple Olympian, who shared the vision to create a UK-based Biathlon Development system, and retired from international competition in 2003 even with many years athletic career beckoning, and took up the inaugural post of Coach to start up the new GBR National Biathlon Development Squad. Mark was one of the original 'biathlon pathfinders' of the modern era, who believed and proved that we could develop 'anywhere' given the chance. .
Where the new generation all> started....... the site of the Kinloss formal data-acquisition trials range, which provided vital proof to the project to solve many of the issues arising from the range accident at Les Contamines in 2001.
This range was the home range for the RAF Biathlon Team, 1999-2002, during which the team won both male and female BBU Championship League (Dave McGlade and Julie Morgan).
^ With its telemetry and witness systems stripped back, the original rollerski range in the woods of RAF Kinloss was a valuable asset for the GBR Development Squad Courses, and continued in use until 2004.
<- The inaugural 2003 GBR Development Squad staff of the Training Officer and Mark Gee GBR (1994 Lillehammer, 1998 Nagano and 2002 Salt Lake City Olympian) used this venue extensively, primarily for Development Squad courses but also for McGill's enhanced data and design trials.
Many high quality hours must be spent on the range for all marksmanship and competence courses. For many athletes, developing skiing skills and physical athleticism are fairly standard sporting routines and well understood.....for almost everyone, learning rifle skills, consistency of accuracy and the 'art of biathlon' take at least as much time, commitment and quality of effort.
The Club takes pride in ensuring its first priority - providing IBU-standard biathlon training ranges, which are the vital and core requirement for biathlon training. In many respects, most other aspects can be managed as 'standard', even in the UK, as evidenced by the phenomenal successes of the nearby Huntly-based GBR Nordic Development Squad.
< Race Day, the pinnacle of most of our courses, when it all comes together for all categories of student - novices, experienced athletes, coaches, range staff, range conducting officers, technical delegates and chief of competition.
LEADERSHIP & COACHING
Leadership courses tutor the taking of responsibility for safety and supervision (eg as Range Conducting Officers), and for planning and organising safe training and live-firing biathlon events and rollerski race events, often on ad hoc temporary sites. Our courses are graded from entry-level (for parents, small club officials, etc) through to the highest certification, for example Range Conducting Officer Grade 3 / 4 aligned with the IBU’s system for IBU Referees and IBU Technical Delegates.
Coaching is the art of mentoring performance athletes, and is based strongly on the coach’s record of competition experience, acquired knowledge and ability to develop elite athletes. However, entry level biathletes and local clubs mostly need ‘Instructors’ with knowledge of how to teach and operate safely at novice-to-intermediate level. We teach Instructors’ essentials for those starting out in taking charge of biathlon training, all the way up to Coaches who, by definition, have a substantial portfolio of personal performance, detailed knowledge and long-term commitment.
EGBC, 2003: 2 women who went on to make biathlon history for GBR ->
Emma Fowler became GBR's first-ever female Olympic biathlete in 2006 Turin, and Adele (Turner) Walker, who took over the GBR No 1 slot and raced in numerous World Championships, became the first British athlete ever - male or female - to score a 'possible' - the perfect 0-0-0-0 at any British Championship.....and she did so more than once!
Technical courses teach the skills of designing, risk assessing and managing biathlon training and competition venues, and therefore include a wide array of fundamentals of sport, leadership and coaching, as well as the essentials of safety, structure, ballistics, safety management and design. We have massive experience of all this, and in the UK and Ireland, BBC in partnership with specialists McGill Consultants Ltd has lead the designing, improvising, modifying and operating of both existing and new biathlon ranges, and currently directly operates directly or manages 6 venues, and more in the pipeline.
It's important for any and every competition to have - as fundamental articles of faith - FAIR COMPETITION and CORRECT RESULTS: the target systems must be A1 PERFECT and the race staff must know the rules in fine detail, be able to conduct the race fairly, and know how to ensure noone is disadvantaged or advantaged when a glitch occurs (by either athlete, staff, targets, penalty systems or timing). We teach biathlon team staff to be UK technical delegates, so that they can lift the quality of their teams' biathlon training to the standards of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) and thus enhance the understanding, enjoyment and results of their teams.
Here are just some of the courses we run (and if they’re open to all, they will be promulgated on Facebook): Biathlon Practice Week 1 (BPW1), Biathlon Practice Week 2 (BPW2), Instructors (Coach Grade 1 (summer)), Coaches (2 and 3), Range Conducting Officers (1, 2 and 3/4), Development Camp 1, Development Camp 2, and Biathlon Managers’ Course (a fast-track hybrid course for military team captains and coaches who need formalised certification of their biathlon certification). We also run bespoke courses according to teams' needs to fill in the gaps in their skillsets, and provide initial priming and competence training for teams that wish to then self-administer their own training camps and continuation programmes, either on our ranges or back at their homes bases.
As a general rule, aspects of all these courses are woven together for our major summer boot camps (normally May and September each year), which makes a fun and interesting camp for all standards of athlete and staff. COMPLETE NOVICES are especially important to EVERYONE ...... not only do we need a regular stream of novices of all ages to take up our amazing sport and keep it alive, but the apprentice Coaches and RCOs need first-step 'biathlon for all' participants to develop and demonstrate their craft. All are truly welcome: come and join 'the biathlon family'.