Back in time biathlon

February 19, 2013

Dalton, New Hampshire

By Jessica Rinaldi

Every year for the past ten years “The Dalton Gang” has held a primitive biathlon at their shooting club in Dalton, New Hampshire. If you’ve never heard of this before, here’s the rundown.

A primitive biathlon is what happens when you strap snowshoes to your feet and grab a muzzleloaded weapon (rifle or pistol) and race around a track through the woods, in this case 1.75 miles long, to different stations where you load the weapon and shoot at the target. You are scored by how fast you can make it around the track and how accurately you can hit the nine targets spread out across the four different stations scattered throughout the course.

The wildcard in the race is the muzzleloader, a gun in which the ammunition is loaded into the muzzle or the opening at the front of the gun. The contestants carry gun powder, round ball ammunition, and a ramrod to help push the ammunition down into place with them as they race through the course. All of this is difficult enough under normal situations but when you’ve been running up the side of a mountain it becomes even more challenging not only to load the gun but to lower your breathing enough to actually hit the target.

Competitors in the Dalton Gang’s primitive biathlon are encouraged to wear period dress although it is not a requirement. It was hard to stay away from photographing Kenny Gaudette who was dressed in furs from head to toe and quick to tell me that he went to see Elvis with his daughter years ago and they bought the sunglasses there. His daughter’s glasses have since broke but he only wears his pair once a year, for this event.

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