Courses

Rollerski / Biathlon 1-Day Courses

NEW - Martin Watkins has taken over as biathlon Head Coach

Biathlon is cross-country skiing plus shooting and is in fact Europe's most popular Winter sport on TV. We are running several courses combining roller skiing and shooting with 'laser biathlon' rifles. Leading the courses will be former GB biathlete and Olympic cross-country skier, Martin Watkins.

Martin took part in the 1981 biathlon World Championships in Lahti, then the 1984 Sarajevo and 1988 Calgary Olympics in cross-country skiing. He is involved in coaching biathlon to British Army teams, and roller skiing / cross-country skiing with the British Nordic Ski Team.

Courses take place at Redbridge Cycle Circuit in Essex / East London and Dorney Lake near Windsor.

 

   
Timings: 09.45-16.00
For: Anyone with an interest in biathlon. Maximum of 16 people in 2x groups. No rollerski experienced is necessary. We will split the group so you will have the appropriate rollerski / shooting training. Martin will focus on the shooting coaching.
Technique: Skating rollerskiing, shooting with laser biathlon rifles (equal focus on both elements)
Dates: Redbridge, Sunday 20th Oct
Dorney, Sunday 29th March
Bring: Light gloves for the skiing; running shoes for the shooting; bike helmet if you have one.
Race:

The Wessex Biathlon Club's biathlon races are held every October at Castle Combe race course. Our biathlon courses are good preparation for these. See here.

 

Student / youth discount, see here.

 

Video: why the Norwegians love biathlon

Booking

Including rollerski equipment, £120
Course
Shoe size (UK)
Excluding rollerski equipment, £106
Course
   

     

Directions:

   

Dorney

Redbridge Other Venues

We meet in the main carpark, on the left before you get to the boathouse.

Information -
Postcode - SL4 6QP, directions here
Parking - free if on course (ignore machines)
Toilets in main boathouse building
Snacks available at Dorney Court garden centre at end of driveway

Nearest Train: Windsor / Taplow. If coming from Windsor, cross over to Eton and cycle or get a taxi from there, it is much closer.

We meet by the van, between the car park and the the main building, 09.50.

Information -
Postcode - IG6 3HP, directions here
Parking - free
Facilities - we have exclusive use of the whole track. Also, a meeting room in the main centre building, toilets, lockers, changing rooms and showers. Snacks as well as tea and coffee may be purchased on site.

Nearest Tube / Train: Fairlop on the Central Line 15 minute walk. You can also cycle from Dagenham Heathway (District Line, cycles allowed on Sundays) or Goodmayes (National Rail / Elizabeth Line).

 

We can also run bespoke biathlon courses at other suitable venues nationwide. We can have up to 16 people doing a full one day course, or 32 people in two shorter half days. We would cover both roller skiing and shooting.

Please contact iain@rollerski.co.uk for a quote and further information.

     
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture credit: Lighttrapper Photography

 

Background

Biathlon is one of the world's most compelling sports. Combining cross-country skiing - the ultimate strength endurance sport - with marksmanship, all can be made or lost on the shooting range. It requires incredible skill, as well as physical and mental strength. Originally practiced by border guards patrolling Europe's snowy and mountainous frontiers, it is now a hugely popular spectator sport. In Germany it is second only to football in TV audiences.

Biathlon in the UK, like cross-country skiing, was traditionally dominated by the military. But in recent years, skiers such as Scott Dixon from Scotland and Holly Rees-Lay from the Thames Valley have been emerging from local clubs to take on the country's best military biathletes. Last year a laser biathlon race series began in England, combining running with shooting. And in other parts of Europe, notably Norway and Germany, city centre 'Summer Biathlon' competitions have been run on rollerskis with real biathlon rifles, with the world's best winter biathletes taking part. So overall, interest and participation has grown considerably.

 

The Coach

Martin Watkins has had a long career in biathlon and cross-country skiing. Starting with biathlon, he was GB junior biathlon champion in 1981 and 1982, and took part in the 1982 biathlon World Championships. Switching to cross-country skiing, he then took part in the 1984 Sarajevo and 1988 Calgary Olympic Games. After leaving the Army, he became a founding member of the Wessex Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club and remains a biathlon and cross-country ski racer, and coach at the club, Army and national level. He also regularly takes part in British roller ski racing and is usually found towards the top of the results.

 

The Rifles

The laser rifles do not use bullets but a completely eye-safe laser (of a similar kind to lasers used in barcode readers). The 'beam' is picked up by a receiver placed 10m away. The rifles are very similar in look and feel to the .22 rifles used in real biathlon, and have been developed specifically for biathlon training. The system has been used in the Biathlon World Team Challenge in Germany.

Despite the rifles being totally safe, the course will emphasise safety, and the equipment will be used as if they are real rifles with live ammunition.

 

The Roller Skiing

Half the course will be on roller skis, in the skating technique. Our roller skis are made by leading manufacturers, who also supply them to the top biathlon teams of the world. All biathletes train on rollerskis in the Summer, and many race either in rollerski or Summer biathlon (roller skiing plus shooting) races in the Summer months. We also provide the boots, poles and padding, but we recommend you bring your own gloves.

 

The Standard

No previous experience of either skiing or shooting is required. All you need to have is a reasonable standard of fitness and balance. We will normally split the groups based on roller ski experience, so if you have roller skied before you will have a slightly more challenging ski session. We have some more stable roller skis if you do not have great balance.

 

The Courses

The beginners' day will cover the following -

  • Safety of the rifle;
  • Rifle familiarisation;
  • Rules of the Range - what to do on a shooting range;
  • Position & Sighting - marksmanship principles;
  • Live practice;
  • Competition.
  • Skating rollerskiing;
    • Basic technique for beginners;
    • Advanced technique, and a focus on hillwork for more experienced skiers (Redbridge has some excellent hills)

There will be 1x shooting and 1x rollerski session before lunch, and 1x shooting and 1x rollerski session after lunch. Everyone will attend an introduction at 09.45, then we will split the group in two, and some will start with rollerskiing, and the others with shooting.

 

The Venues

Redbridge Cycle Circuit is situated on the outskirts of London, near the bottom of the M11. It has 3k of excellent tarmac, with both flat and hilly sections, and is our favourite rollerski venue. We will have access to a meeting room, and the range will be set up outside, in close proximity to the tracks. There's more about the circuit here.

Dorney Lake is a 2000m international rowing venue, surrounded by 15km of beautifully smooth, mainly flat tarmac tracks. It hosted the rowing and flat water canoeing events at the 2012 Olympics. It is situated off J7 of the M4. We also run rollerski courses here once or twice monthly between August and April. You can find out more about Dorney Lake here.

 

The Sport in the UK

Biathlon is a tiny sport in the UK. There are only about a dozen biathletes training year round at 'club' or elite level, mostly from the military. But in addition there are several hundred Army biathletes who train and race at a recreational level during the Winter months. The Army has a long history of biathlon, and it is considered excellent training in many different areas useful for soldiering - marksmanship, fitness, leadership, teamwork, planning. The RAF also has a biathlon team which does good summer training.

In recent years a growing number of civilian biathletes have emerged, including club member Holly Rees-Lay, who was British Individual Ladies Champion in 2019. And two of our young Team Dorney skiers took part in an IBU youth camp and races in Sweden in March 2019. Until recently, GB's top male biathlete was Scott Dixon of the Cairngorm club in Scotland. GB's 21st century success in cross-country skiing has come exclusively from non-military developments, and we believe there is great potential for further civilian success in biathlon.

 

Please get in touch if you have any questions, either email iain@rollerski.co.uk or call 020 8348 2540.

 

See also -

British Biathlon Union - governing body for biathlon
Laser Biathlon UK - running + shoothing biathlon competitions
Glenmore Lodge biathlon courses with Mike Dixon
Biathlon World, website of the IBU, free streaming of biathlon races

Dorney rollerski courses
Leeds rollerski course
Redbridge rollerski courses

Team Dorney and Redbridge

     
     

ROLLERSKI INSTRUCTORS
Assisting Martin in running the courses:
IAIN
FERN

JORDAN
BARBARA
ADAM

     
     

The British Biathlon Union are seeking to open up the sport to more people. Our courses are a good introduction, and if you can get up to speed with both skiing and shooting, there are now more opportunities in the sport. You can join our London training group, Team Dorney or your local ski club to develop you skiing and racing.

 

 
           
       


For beginners we separate the roller skiing and the shooting. But for Level 2 courses, for more confident skiers we combine the roller skiing and the shooting, see video above.