Southern Vermont Primitive Biathlon

16th Annual Southern Vermont Primitive Biathlon

What is a Primitive Biathlon? A Primitive Biathlon is an event where participants snowshoe through a 1-2 mile course shooting at nine targets using primitive muzzleloading firearms. As a tribute to America’s beginnings, many participants dress in period attire representing Colonial Frontiersmen, Native Americans, and Early Militia.

Competitors not only have to be able to shoot well but must also be able to load their firearms through the muzzle, swiftly and accurately. Scores are calculated using travel time through the course and the number of hits made while shooting. There are specific classes for Men, Women, Youths under 16, and Elders over age 60. A special “Woodswalk” class was also created for people who do not wish to run or use snowshoes and has become the most popular class. Participation in this event is open to the public, and one does not need to be a runner or competitor to enjoy this event. There are other target shooting contests held during the two-day event to participate in as well. It is a great family event and spectators are welcome to walk the trail to view the participants shooting.

The Southern Vermont Primitive Biathlon was started in 2005 by a small group of people to meet a unique demand for this type of event in this part of Vermont. This two-day event has grown in the number of participants every year since. Several events like this have sprung up around New England and Eastern New York in the last 25 years. The Southern Vermont Primitive Biathlon is hosted by the Manchester Rod and Gun Club and held at the Old Skinner Hollow Farm in Manchester, Vermont. There will be food concession provided by “Martha’s” concession trailer, and a cantina in the warming tent for hot chocolate, coffee, and tea. A few vendors (or Sutlers as they were once called) will be on hand distributing their hand made wares. There is a long list of sponsors who have donated in-kind services for the event, and merchandise for a large door prize giveaway at the end of the event. There will be two muzzle-loading rifles available as the grand prize give away. Grand prizes and door prizes are available to participants and spectators in a raffle drawing, and you need not be present to win. Many local sponsors, who have supported this event since it’s inception include Orvis, RK Miles, Dorr Septic Service, Northshire Bookstore, Kilburn’s Convenience Store, The Reel Angler, Herrmann Construction, MMA Guns, Hopkins and Sons Contracting, The Mountain Goat, HN Williams Store, Lawrence Grant Excavating, Tom’s Lawn Care, Miles Lumber of Arlington, M & M Plumbing and Heating, Manchester Hot Glass, Brooks Brother’s, Fuller’s Restoration, Brown Enterprises, Lux Brush, Black Magic Chimney Sweeps, Big Butterfly Promos, Mrs. Murphy’s Donuts, Walnut Hill Sporting Club, and many, many more. This event is open to spectators at no charge. It is a fun way to spend a day with some fine and interesting people and take a brief look into our past.

Proceeds from this event will benefit the Manchester Rod and Gun Club’s Youth Conservation Camp Scholarship Fund. The Green Mountain Youth Conservation Camps are a summer camp network owned by the State of Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. Week-long camp stays are available to youth’s 12-16 years of age, with an emphasis on teaching Vermont’s Wildlife Ecology, and Hunter’s Safety.

Every summer The Manchester Rod and Gun Club sponsor youths from the area that wish to attend these camps. To date, the Southern Vermont Primitive Biathlon has raised over $40,000 for this scholarship fund.

This year’s Southern Vermont Primitive Biathlon will be held on February 15 and 16 at the Old Skinner Hollow Farm on Route 7A in Manchester, Vermont. To find out more about this or other primitive biathlons, Green Mountain Youth Conservation Camps, or the Manchester Rod and Gun Club please visit our website at, and like us on Facebook.