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Biathlon in Britain

Structure

The British Biathlon Union is the governing body of biathlon in Britain. It is affiliated to the International Biathlon Union.

In principle, anyone can compete in biathlon, but in practice all but a handful of British biathletes are in the armed forces. The officers and board of the BBU are mostly serving or former army officers, but it is (in principle) a national rather than a service governing body.

Races

The British National Biathlon Championships are held in conjunction with the Army Championships, about the last week of January or first week of February. The programme includes Individual, Sprint, Pursuit and Relay biathlons; there is also a two-person sprint relay. The Army and National Cross-Country Ski Championships are run immediately before or after the biathlon championships. They take place in Ruhpolding, Bavaria (between Munich and Salzburg), one of the world's best biathlon centres and a charming village.

Two Army 'Divisional Championships' in France precede the National & Army Champs, and act as qualifying events for the army regimental teams. The German meet is at Les Contamines, near Chamonix, and the UK meet (incorporating the Territorial Army Championships) at Serre Chevalier, between Grenoble and Briançon. The programme includes Sprint and Relay biathlons, as well as 10km and 15km classic and 4x10km relay cross-country races.

The 'RAC Championships' (Royal Armoured Corps) takes place at Hochfilzen, Austria, after the New Year, and is used by many service teams as a warm-up for the more important divisional meetings and Army Champs. The programme varies, but includes at least Sprint and Relay biathlons, and some cross-country races.

The Infantry Championships take place at Lillehamer before Christmas.

The British National Summer Biathlon Championships (running and shooting) take place at Glenmore Lodge, Aviemore or Ash Ranges, Hampshire, in August.

Coaching

The BBU has a coach training programme, which operates on a semi-formal basis and is being developed. The training course lasts a week.

There is a biathlon shooting instructor course run commercially for the Army by Major (retd) Arthur Harvey of Budleigh Farm Target Shooting Centre in Devon. This takes place in October and lasts 11 days.

Development and Recruitment

There is no formal development of biathlon at grass-roots level in Britain, and it is not easy to start the sport as a civilian (of the 3 'civilians' who have been in the national squads in recent years, 2 started biathlon through the Territorial Army).

British Representative Teams

  • World Cup, World Championships and Olympics: men and women as appropriate. Maximum 3 starters in men's World Cup races, 2 in women's. Qualifying standards are required for Olympics and World Champs.
  • European Cup, European Championships: B team, of men, women and juniors as appropriate. Maximum 10 starters in each race.
  • Junior World Championships: when individuals of appropriate standard are identified at the National Champs.
  • Summer World Championships: policy varies.