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/.

Darwin has been involved with biathlon as a racer, volunteer, USBA Level 2 Official and Saratoga Biathlon Club member for decades. In fact, he started biathlon racing when the Saratoga Club was established shortly after the invention of gun powder in China. Darwin’s Nordic skiing career is rooted in ski marathon racing which includes successfully completing the courses of all races of the World Loppet League. Since the inception of New York’s Empire State Winter Games, Darwin has competed in biathlon and cross country at the games long enough to now have all Mt. Van Hoevenburg race courses memorized. He is a founding member and past president of the New York State Ski Racing Association and will begin another term as NYSSRA Nordic’s president in September 2010. Darwin’s evolution as a Nordic competitor has seen ski skating replace classical ski technique in biathlon and brass casing .22 cartridge rifles replace black powder muzzleloaders. This willingness to adapt has enabled Darwin to survive and stay fit in a world of training gimmicks and equipment changes.

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