Shandaken Primitive Biathlon to be held Jan. 18

Shandaken — After 11 previous years of highly successful competition, the Shandaken Primitive Biathlon will again be held January 18 in New York State’s Catskill Mountains.
While the modern Olympic Biathlon combines cross-country skiing with target shooting using lightweight rifles, the primitive biathlon couples an 18th-century frontiersman’s skills in using wooden snowshoes and his marksmanship utilizing a muzzle-loading black powder rifle.
The competition will again be held on the Upper Esopus Fish and Game Association’s grounds in Shandaken’s Oliverea Valley. The biathlons layout will consist of four shooting stations spaced along an approximately seven-eighth mile wooded course. At each shooting station competitors will have to shoot at two targets at varying distances. Each shot involves loading with black powder and a patched round ball. Contestants must carry their rifles unloaded between shooting stations.
The Primitive Biathlon will be scored by subtracting successful target hits from the overall time it takes a competitor to complete the course. Entries will be divided into four age groups; 12 to 16, 17 to 40, 41 to 59, 60 and over. We also have divisions for smooth bore and a ladies’ division. The ladies also compete on equal footing with the males in their age group. The fastest overall time from all divisions will be the biathlon’s overall winner. We have several ladies that have won their respective age group in the past. New this year we will have a division for the people that just want to snowshoe the course and shoot the targets without being timed.
In keeping with the custom of black powder shooters, many competitors appear in traditional leather, wool and fur frontier winter clothing as well as 18th-century military uniforms and Indian costumes. As in years past, free camping will be available for competitors. We also invite any traders to come and set up free of charge.
In addition to Upper Esopus Fish and Game Association, the other participating organizers of the biathlon are the Phoenicia Fish and Game Association, the Wittenberg Sportsmen’s Club and the Highwood’s Sportsmen Club. Sponsors, in addition to the longtime primary support of the Town of Shandaken, include many Ulster County businesses.
Registration for the biathlon will be between 8:30 a.m. and noon on January 18 with a $17 entry fee. The division of untimed participants will have a $10 entry fee. However, due to large turnouts in the past and the restrictions of daylight, it is suggested that shooters who want to be assured of a place in the competition pre-register by January 14 by sending their names and addresses, together with a $12 pre-registration fee, to Shandaken Primitive Biathlon, Larry Hughson, Chairman, 58 Boulevard, Kingston, NY 12401. The check should be made out to the Phoenicia Fish and Game Association.
For more information call Larry Hughson at 845 331-5201, Steve Tubby at 845 336-6029 or John Gray at 845 246-6544, or visit our website at