Biathlon at the Gun Club
By Scott Lockhart
For about the last 10-12 years or so, several Nordic skiers from Kenora have participated in the sport of biathlon at the biathlon facility located at Whiteshell Park, Falcon Lake, Manitoba. This facility was developed in the mid-1980’s as the host-site of the Junior National Biathlon competition and is managed through Biathlon Manitoba in partnership with Falcon Trails Resort.
As you probably know, biathlon combines the two sports of cross-country skiing and target shooting. The shooting component involves precision 22 calibre rifles (Anshutz brand primarily) on a 5-place target with swinging plates that are activated with each hit.
There is a great Nordic ski training program available in Kenora through “Kenora Nordic and Biathlon Club”. Youth start in the ‘Jackrabbit’ program where skiing fundamentals are developed, and then progress to the ‘Track Attack’, ‘Junior Development’ and finally to the KNBC racing team where they can compete in Regional and National Nordic ski events.
Local athletes compete at the Biathlon Manitoba races at Falcon Lake, and always place high in the standings.
In 2011, Erik Lockhart was successful in being named to the Biathlon Manitoba Canada Winter Games team, and attended the Winter Games held in Halifax, Nova Scotia………….a life-time experience! Tim Wehner has competed at several National Biathlon competitions and in 2013 reached the podium for the first time with a bronze medal in the Masters Men 10 kilometre Individual event. Tim set a goal to improve his shooting results and trained extensively through the summer and fall of 2013 (approximately 3,500 rounds!). At the 2014 Biathlon Nationals, Tim had four podium finishes!!!……… 1st place in the 6 kilometre Sprint event and the 10 kilometre Individual event, 2nd in the Relay event, and third in the 7.5 kilometre Pursuit event.
The key to this success has been improved access to a shooting facility. While training camps are held periodically at Falcon Lake, local access to a quality site for shooting practice has been lacking. Local athletes most recently had targets located on private property to provide opportunity for the extensive shooting required to maintain proficiency in the off-season, but this was not the best location.
In the summer of 2013, discussions were initiated with the Board of Directors of LOWGC about the possibility of establishing a biathlon range at the local site. As a result, two biathlon targets were placed at the pistol range on a trial basis. The additional shooting training mentioned above by Tim was done at the LOWGC range.
Kenora Nordic and Biathlon Club continues to encourage youth to give biathlon a try. The Track Attack program is including a biathlon component starting in the fall of 2014, with weekly or bi-weekly training at the range. Katie and Karly Lockhart are currently training to gain a spot on the 2015 Biathlon Manitoba Canada Winter Games team. The 2015 Canada Winter Games will be held in Prince George, British Columbia and the girls are hoping to earn a place on the team. This is only possible with dedicated shooting, with 400-1,000 rounds a month expected, on top of daily dry-land training.
The support of the Lake of the Woods Gun Club in providing access to the range for biathlon is much appreciated. There is tremendous opportunity for youth in biathlon and we can look to the experiences of Megan Imrie from Falcon Lake who participated at the last two Olympics as a member of the Biathlon Canada team.
For further information please contact Scott Lockhart (548-2218), Tim Wehner (548-8147) or Dwayne Cyr 548 1024.