The Olympics is a beautiful tradition of sportsmanship and comradery, but many of the events are not the most practical from a survival perspective. For example, how often are you going to need to tumble yourself away from an attacker or bobsled away from a charging bear?
The ridiculousness of the previous images does not mean Olympic sports do not have merit, nor does it mean a survivalist cannot learn from the activities. For example, learning breathing techniques from marathon runners or swimmers is beneficial, as are self-defense strategies taught in martial arts or wrestling. However, when looking at the collective catalog of winter and summer games, one sport stands out above the rest as a practical survivalist training tool: The biathlon.
What Is the Biathlon?
Formerly known as the Military Ski Patrol in earlier Winter Olympics, the biathlon was introduced to the Olympic Games as a men’s event in the winter of 1960. It is a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship.
How Does the Sport Correlate With Survival Training
While some survivalists might not see the parallels between the two activities, especially from a practical standpoint, they do exist. Granted, to use the sport precisely as designed, you must live in a tundra-type landscape, requiring the constant use of skis to get from point A to B.
However, the practicality does not come into play by following the sport precisely. Instead, the merit lies in the combination of stamina and precision, of stress and control. How often are you racing from target to target on the shooting range? Unless you are currently in the military or routinely practice military shooting drills, the answer is likely never.
Biathletes focus on endurance training and marksmanship. The sport allows the use of a .22 rifle. During the race, competitors must stop several times to shoot targets at least 50 meters away. A racer’s heartbeat can rise to 200 beats per minute during these pauses, meaning accuracy is a challenge.
The competition format means biathletes, with their adrenaline, anxiety, and exhaustion, experience something comparable to a real-life survival situation. If you are under attack, you are likely running away from the threat, and if pursued, you will need to turn and fire upon a target. The level of adrenaline pumping through your veins is likely similar to a biathlete.
Should You Train for a Biathlon?
While taking up the sport is an excellent way to train your body to handle stressful situations while maintaining accuracy, it is unnecessary. The critical skills of a biathlete include heart rate management and breath control.
While you may never be able to control your breathing like a biathlete, slowing your heart rate from 200 beats per minute down to 130 beats in a matter of seconds, learning to slow your heart rate on demand can only help in survival situations.
An excellent way to practice breathing techniques and endurance is to find an outdoor range with a course. The movement will inevitably be a challenge for your accuracy, but you might be surprised how you fare with enough time and practice.
Do you know of any other Olympic sports that can provide insight into survival training? Leave a comment explaining your answer. Also, leave a comment expressing your interest in this topic or similar ones.