Bike Biathlon coach Debbie Helsdon guides Lucas Schibli at the Terrace Rod and Gun on Sept. 19.

Bike Biathlon coach Debbie Helsdon guides Lucas Schibli at the Terrace Rod and Gun on Sept. 19.

Young bike biathletes prepare to shoot steady

Eight-year-old Lucas Schibli started training for the upcoming bike biathlon two weeks ago.

Eight-year-old Lucas Schibli started training for the upcoming bike biathlon two weeks ago.

And like most kids when they first start shooting .22 caliber rifles (in the safety-first environment of the Rod and Gun Club, with trained instructors abound), he was firing his rounds too fast.

So Debbie Helsdon, one of the biathlon team’s instructors, spends some one-on-one time with him showing how to better take his time – breathe in and out twice, focus, breathe in, focus, breathe out, shoot, wait three seconds, repeat.

And did he get closer to the target?

“Yeah, I did actually,” he said, smiling.

She does this with all of the kids who come out to the range twice a week to train – they bike the race course, practise shooting, and focus on safety issues and sighting.

A calm, steady shot is one of the most important things to master when training for the bike biathlon – a competition that combines biking and shooting, in which the competitor needs to quickly focus after an adrenaline-filled bike race in order to shoot and hit a series of targets.

“Adrenaline and excitement, that definitely spoils the shot,” she said.

This year’s bike biathlon  is set for Oct. 5, and is open to all ages and skill levels. There are categories for youth, recreational adults, and competitive adults.

In fact, organizer Chris Schooner is hoping more recreational adults give it a shot this year.

“We’re hoping people come out who have never tried it before,” he said. “Come and try it for fun – you’re competing against yourself.”

But if you want competition, you can have that too.

Terrace Off Road Cycling Association has been assisting with the trails, making the bike course a bit more challenging for the adults.

And the range is being steadily upgraded, with Nechako North Coast donating the use of a loader to help with the upgrades.

“The goal is to make our biathlon range meet national and international standards,” Schooner said, noting they’re about 80 per cent of the way.

Biathlon Canada has been guiding the club to make the course meets the national standard for youth, meaning it will be slightly different than last year.

And this year, competitors have the option of moving up a category if they’re particularly skilled in biking, shooting, or both.

A silent auction will also be held the day of, with the ability to bid on items on the Biathlon Terrace Facebook page before the event.

There are still a few sessions left in the bike biathlon club’s pre-race training sessions, held Thursdays and Saturdays if you want to check your aim before the event.

Registration is at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 with safety checks and trails familiarization at 9:30 a.m. Races start at 10 a.m. and there are refreshments and prizes provided.