If you'd like to try some winter biathlons, the first thing to do is to attend a safety certification clinic. Until you do this, you can't use a .22 rifle in a USBA event. Membership in the USBA provides racers with extra liability insurance, if they desire it.
At summer races, extra rifles are provided by both the Summer Biathlon office and CBC, so there are usually plenty to go around.
Competitors who will be at least 13 years of age by December 31 of the winter competition season may race using a .22 rifle, if they have attended a Safety Certification clinic.
You must attend a safety clinic before you can use one of the training venues. Be sure to carry your proof of USBA safety certification (and membership, if you have it) with you when you use these facilities.
Rifles are allowed upstairs at the Snow Mountain Ranch nordic center. No rifles are allowed in the nordic center building at Eldora. Do not leave your rifle unattended.
Eldora details: Let the desk personnel at the nordic center know that you're planning to use the range. Be prepared to show your Red Book. The target is located about halfway through the Phoebe Snow loop. You'll need to take a sharp left at the bottom of a short, but somewhat steep, downhill. There is a carpet rack at the range with a compartment on top that contains a sign-in sheet. Record your name, the date and time you're there. Bring your own paper targets. If you need target copies, you can print out an original from the CBC web site. Don't leave your rifle unattended at the range. Roll up the reset cord, remove paper, store the carpet(s) on the rack, and clean up your brass before leaving the area for the day.
Snow Mountain Ranch details: Sign in at the nordic center desk before heading out to the range. Be sure to indicate on the sign-in list that you're using the range (if there's no column for "biathlon," add the comment "biathlon" or "range" in the margin). Be prepared to show your Red Book as well. You should bring your own paper targets. Carpets are in the warming hut. Do not leave your rifle unattended at the range. Roll up the reset cord(s), remove paper, store the carpet(s) back in the warming hut, and clean up your brass before leaving the area for the day.
Contact the Competition Chief for the race dates you're interested in working. If you'd like to take on more of the race responsibilities, the next step is to serve as one of the Chiefs (Competition, Range, Timing, Course). Check out the race management guidelines to get an idea of the various tasks involved.
Often it is necessary to find another open (paper) target to confirm your zero after shooting up your first paper. If the full length of the range at Snow Mountain Ranch is open, that provides more chances to find clean paper. Remember that if lanes and paper are assigned, you should check with the range official before using another paper at the assigned lanes. Some lanes may be unassigned and available for standing/dry firing/paper confirmation.
These tips originally appeared in the Summer 1998 Colorado Biathlon Club Newsletter (http://www.coloradobiathlon.org/newsletters/summer98.news.html).