Biathlon Athlete Participates in Max Soviak National Rimfire Sporter Match

Mike Desch, of Englewood, Ohio, was sporting his biathlon gear during the Rimfire Sporter match on Saturday, July 8, 2023, and shared his journey to become a Biathlon official at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Mike is an avid marksman and has been involved in shooting sports for as long as he can remember, “I shot .22 indoor league in 7th grade… it was in my blood.” His love of marksmanship took a new form as he participated in his first biathlon in Dayton, Ohio, that consisted of cross country running and rifle shooting. Since then, he has participated in many biathlons, starting with running and gradually getting more into the cross-country skiing.

Mike enjoys the athleticism and challenges that are inherent in the biathlon, “The fact that [biathletes] can come into the range, drop their ski poles, take their rifle off their back, get in the prone position, fire off 5 shots, get back up, grab their poles and ski off, in less than 30 seconds when their heart rate is elevated. It’s really incredible.”

Mike’s jacket included a patch from the Lake Placid and Canada World Cup.

Mike became interested in biathlon officiating while attending the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.  He wanted to become an official by the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. To find out how to accomplish this, he contacted the USBA office and expressed interest in becoming an official. They recommended participating in as many events as he could and getting any certifications necessary. One of the events he went to in preparation was a double event in Lake Placid and Canada, which was on the jacket he chose to wear to the Rimfire Sporter match.

Mike followed their recommendations and when 2002 came, he was on the list for the Olympic Games.  Mike was elated that he made his dream a reality saying, “It was a once in a lifetime experience.” As an official Mike could have many tasks, including setting up the course, checking the targets, checking the rifles, and scoring.

There are so many opportunities in the sport of shooting, Mike continues to explore and appreciate different areas of the sport. For anyone looking to do something like this, Mike’s advice is, “Find a passion and get involved.” 

Find more details on the CMP Rimfire Sporter Matches, visit: Photos from the Max Soviak National Rimfire Sporter Match may be viewed and downloaded at

To find out more information on Biathlons, visit

The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto

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