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Biathlon Paintball Delights Kochers

paint on target

Paint hits on special biathlon paintball target.

There is something irresistible about the splat of paint capsules hitting targets that attracts kids to paintball. When it’s biathlon paintball that something is called challenge and fun. That’s exactly why 75 Mid-Atlantic BKYSL Festival kids on March 13 waited excitedly in line to experience biathlon paintball shooting and skiing at Lapland Lake. While parents and coaches watched, skiers had a blast mixing orange paint with the rain/sleet/snow conditions of the day.

Saratoga Biathlon Club members Tom Bielli, Eric Hamilton, Jill Koziol, Darwin Roosa and Eric Seyse conducted the biathlon paintball as part of a round of activities that included ski-orienteering and games. Tippmann paintball guns were borrowed from the Lake Placid Biathlon Club.

paintball shooter

Alex Wilkinson takes careful aim at target after skiing with Eric Seyse.

After a brief orientation to shooting, skiers took practice shots at black-dot targets tacked to wooden pallets about nine meters away. Most shooters “got it” right away without coaching — they figured out how to aim and then make their next shot better. “It’s so cool you can actually see the paint capsule fly through the air and then splat,” said one skier. “If you aim too high, you know right away that your next shot has to be aimed lower.”

After some “trigger squeeze” tips and a little practice, the Kochers were ready for their first biathlon challenge. Groups of five skiers at a time had a chance to “follow the leader” (Eric Seyse) over a short trail and then enter the range to shoot ten paintballs. Not surprising, Eric made some of them ski too hard for a first experience. One exhausted skier after hitting 4 out of 10 said: “I really tried!” and turned to his parents to ask: “Can I get a paintball gun and set up a range in our backyard?” Sounds like a future biathlete in the making.

Tom coaches Cameron McCarthy

Tom Bielli coaches Rochester BKYSL skier Cameron McCarthy on how to aim.

As for parents and coaches, they became motivated to organize biathlon paintball and other creative and fun activities for developing Nordic skiers. For more about the festival weekend, go to the BKYSL blog http://billkochyouthskileague.wordpress.com/ and photo gallery at NY Cross Country blog  http://nyssranordic.com/word_press/.

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