Hi everyone my name is Reginald P. Rifle but you can call me Reggie if you like. I am a professional biathlon rifle and as we are sorely neglected in comparison to our carriers I have decided to redress the balance and tell you all what it’s like to be me.
I am a short bore rifle and like most of my colleagues I am an Anschütz Fortner. I have a fore sight and a rear sight and I can hold 4 magazines containing five .22 calibre cartridges. I also have an annoying harness attached to me so my carriers can hold me on their back. My minimum weight is 3.5kg which is around 8 pounds but it is cold in winter and sometimes you put on a few extra pounds to keep warm. Don’t judge me! I also have a snazzy little snow cover over my muzzle to stop the snow getting in.
You might think it’s an easy life being a professional rifle but you are wrong. When you are a young rifle you think “I will be in biathlon and see the world”. See the inside of a bag or case more like! That’s where I spend a lot of time. I have seen the inside of many airports and airplane holds but not a lot else! My Summer Olympic cousins the pistol and shotgun have it easy. All they have to do is aim and fire, aim and fire but not me. No I have to get carried around on someone’s back for up to 20 kilometres. It’s not much fun let me tell you. You get jostled and bumped side to side and up and down and then there is always the danger of my carrier falling. Do they fall face first to save me? –no! They fall backwards and can break my stock or give my barrel a nasty bruise. When they do fire me I have to put up with heavy breathing and all the shaking from a high pulse rate. It’s no walk in the park believe me!
At least that is in the heat of competition. Don’t get me started on dry firing. Off the back, fire, on the back, over and over again! Do these people not realise how dizzy that can make a rifle. Also I fire bullets not little puffs of air! That’s not the worst of it though. Sometimes…sorry this is difficult to talk about…sometimes they take me to pieces and clean me!! The horror! You don’t see their precious skis and poles treated like that oh no! They get technicians and a wax truck! Worse still after all the hard work we put in and all the hours we spend together they don’t even give us a name! I am one of the lucky ones but many of my colleagues are nameless. They do however like to colour us in ridiculous colours like gold, red, orange and pink without even consulting us beforehand. We prefer the classic black by the way.
Don’t get me wrong it’s not all bad. If it was I wouldn’t be doing it! I get to spend a lot of time outdoors and see a lot of nice scenery out on the tracks. The best bit though is the races. I love competition. There is nothing better than entering the stadium with the crowd cheering and all eyes on me to see how I will perform. Once I am settled and ready to fire it’s just me versus my eternal nemesis –the targets! Just fifty metres down range there they are, 5 black circles 11.5cm in diameter for the standing and 4.5cm for the prone.
There is no better feeling than knocking those 5 down in quick succession. Actually that’s not true the best feeling is when my neighbour shooting beside me misses the last one and I hit it. I enjoy looking over and winking at them and letting out a little triumphant chuckle as my biathlete swings me onto their back and skis off to victory. I live for the roar of the crowd every time a target goes down that’s why I do what I do. I also enjoy the trip to the podium especially if it’s on the top step where I can bask in the glory and adoration from the crowd!
So next time you are watching biathlon I hope you will have a bit more appreciation for me and my friends the other rifles. If it wasn’t for us you would be just be watching boring cross-country skiing! We play a big part in the sport and deserve more recognition from both biathletes and fans. Please look out for us and cheer and maybe even give us a name like Reginald P. Rifle or else you might be shocked when one day the rifle fires back!
Reggie’s opinions are not necessarily those of biathlon23. All views are his own.
He doesn’t use social media himself but recommends that you follow @biathlon23 on Twitter and like biathlon23 on Facebook.