The modern biathalon uses .22LR match ammo fired out of precision rifles at target set at 50 meters. Almost everyone is using the model 1827 Anschtz Fortner. Ultra modern skis and equipment, a shiny Olympic skinsuit, and now all you need is a world class cardiovascular system to be ready to compete. It wasn’t always that way. Biathalon had it’s start in military competitions. Skiing and shooting being a very useful skill in the mountains when there is a war on, the genesis of the sport was skiing with packs and shooting issue rifles. By the time it was an internationally recognized competition, the packs had been abandoned, and the U.S. team had retired the 30.06 battle rifles in favor of the Winchester Model 70 chambered in .243. They skied and shot at targets out to 250 meters. You can read about it the February 1960 edition of Guns Magazine.
Now before you start haunting old book stores and flea markets, Guns Magazine offers a downloadable PDF of the magazine that came out 50 years ago every month. So this month, it’s the February 1960 edition you can download and read. Here’s a direct link, although it is a large file and may take a few minutes to fully open.
The story about the biathalon starts on page 38. But there is so much more. Ads for guns at throwaway prices, articles about gunsmithing and hunting, a column by Elmer Keith, letters from readers. It is a time capsule into an America that is so completely gone it is in danger of being forgotten.
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
Leslie Poles Hartley