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Macleod MP fires on Canmore biathlon range

john barlow

Biathlon Alberta trainer Garth Jenkins teaches Macleod MP John Barlow how to shoot a 22 calibre biathlon rifle on the Canmore Nordic Centre biathlon range.

PAM DOYLE – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
The life of a Member of Parliament might suggest that they have to dodge bullets from time to time but on Sept. 5, four Alberta based MPs took a few shots themselves.
They were learning to hit targets at the Canmore Nordic Centre Biathlon range.
An hour of biathlon training followed the conclusion of the 2014 Alberta Conservative Caucus retreat held in Canmore.
“I suggested we come out to Canmore for the retreat,” Wild Rose MP Blake Richards said. “I wanted to give everyone a chance to experience what Canmore and Kananaskis has to offer.”
Out of 26 MPs who attended the retreat, four of them, including Richards, John Barlow, Blaine Calkins and Michelle Rempel accepted the invitation by Canmore Kananaskis Tourism to try out the facilities.
Garth Jenkins and Jeff Lodge, both with Biathlon Alberta, gave the group an orientation session on how to handle the Anschutz 22 calibre biathlon rifles, and then took them onto the range to shoot at targets.
National Biathlon team member Macx Davies and Grade 10 student and biathlete Anna Sellers helped the MPs handle the range and keep everyone safe.
A group of athletes were also training on the range so the politicians had to stay out of their way.
The MPs first tried shooting prone, (on their stomachs), which is easier because the rifle is more stabilized, Davies said.
Once Macleod MP John Barlow figured out which lane he was supposed to be shooting on, he hit an impressive five out of five targets.
“Years of shooting gophers in rural Saskatchewan helped,” Barlow said. “And I had the ringer teacher in Garth Jenkins.”
But besides getting to play with the guns, Barlow was happy to visit the Canmore Nordic Centre.
“It’s impressive to see the young people here practicing biathlon and getting outside,” Barlow said. “We didn’t have to ski first. We should have had to do 10 burpees first, then we wouldn’t have hit any targets.”
Barlow will support the local athletes and watch the IBU World Cup from Feb. 1-8, 2016 at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
“That’s the unfortunate part because we all get excited about the Olympics, but these kids do this all year every year,” Barlow said.
Biathlon is also an expensive sport, Lodge said. Biathletes can use Biathlon Alberta rifles to learn on but once they are at the higher levels, like Davies and Sellers, they have to fork out $4,500 to buy an Anschutz biathlon rifle.
They also have to pay for their bullets, team uniforms and travel expenses to tournaments.
And biathletes don’t start to show impressive results until they have a few practice rounds under their belts, like at least 20,000, Davies said.
Rifle barrels have to be replaced after 100,000 rounds, he added.
Richards will follow Biathlon Canada and cheer for Davies as he competes in events this winter.
Some of the MPs attending the retreat ended their weekend with a round of golf at Stewart Creek Golf Course.

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