The new biathlon training environment in Vuokatti is one of a kind in the world

The University of Jyväskylä’s sports technology unit in Vuokatti has developed a unique new training and testing environment for the biathlon. For the first time, the new training environment offers the biathlete an opportunity to practice live fire shooting in a laboratory “container” developed for this purpose and measure the shooting performance precisely based on real shooting.

You cannot use live ammunition when practising shooting indoors. But in a practice and testing facility built outdoors in a contained area that pays careful attention to safety, it is possible. When using real bullets, it is possible to measure the recoil, which is the force from the discharging of the rifle that transmits to the athlete’s shoulder and impacts the shooting performance.

The test laboratory is located at the end of the ski tunnel in Vuokatti. Biathletes have been happy about the placement of the test laboratory. They arrive to the shooting range after an uphill, so they are able to shoot under the strain caused by the climb.

Thanks to the biathlon lab, a completely new kind of training and testing environment for the biathlon and shooting has emerged in Vuokatti, which is hoped will increase athletes’ interest in Vuokatti as a centre for cross-country skiing and skiing training in Finland and internationally.

“The new test lab and its shooting range enable shooting training with different load variations and testing athletes in a real shooting situation,” says Project Manager Antti Leppävuori from the Vuokatti Sports Technology Unit. “The completed shooting range is a prototype which will be developed further in Vuokatti.

“The range can also be used for cartridge testing and the product development of technical equipment for the biathlon and shooting.”

The first target of testing will be new electronic shooting range targets for the biathlon this year.

Safety issues carefully considered

The location of the lab and the shooting range in the Vuokatti skiing area has brought particular attention to the project’s safety issues. The shooting area has been constructed with sector rails, which ensure that the shot is directed at the shooting target. The bullet cannot go over the container or miss the side but stays in the firing range in a controlled manner. The shooter is under strict instructions not to load the rifle until the rifle is pointed at the target. The safety solution created by Pauli Harjula has been approved by building inspection and authorities.

The Outdoor Shooting Laboratory project has been implemented in cooperation with the University of Jyväskylä Vuokatti Sports Technology Unit (JYU-Vuokatti), Vuokatti Sport, the Finnish Biathlon Association, the Finnish Olympic Committee and Vuokatti-Ruka Sports Academy. The laboratory’s measuring equipment is housed in a container located outdoors at the end of the Vuokatti skiing tunnel. New technology acquisitions include an electronic shooting range target that recognises the point of impact and a wind gauge, and a bullet speed sensor will also be purchased. The acquired technology has been integrated into the Coachtech system developed in Vuokatti and the test methods for the biathlon developed in previous projects (determining the shooter’s centre of gravity as well as measuring trigger pressure and the aiming point trajectory).

The cost of the project is estimated at €157,000, of which €113,000 have come from the European Regional Development Fund, €26,000 from private funding and €18,000 from own resources.

Further information:

Antti Leppävuori, Project Manager
Vuokatti Sports Technology Unit, University of Jyväskylä
+358 44 03447700,

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