It takes a gun, a good pair of skis and a lot of focus to compete in this race. It’s called the Biathlon and 15-year-old Lexie Madigan is one of the country's best.
Madigan is a member of the Auburn Ski Club at Boreal. This year she made the Junior Biathlon World Championship team, just missing the Olympic team because of her age.
"The Olympics is definitely something on the radar for me," Madigan told ABC10 at one of her recent training sessions.
Northern California has a rich history with the biathlon. In 1960, it officially became recognized as an Olympic sport at the winter games in Squaw Valley.
Madigan's Coach Glenn Jobe has a knack for training biathletes. This year, former Auburn Ski Club member Joan Reid is competing in the Olympics. Before Reid, the club produced three youth world champion contenders.
“We are the only range on the west coast," Jobe says. "Interest in the sports really took off eight years ago. Now many of our classes are full."
Madigan will compete in the Youth World Championships, but to be ready for the 2022 Olympic winter games, coaches have to keep her on target.
There are a number of Biathlon races, but the rules are pretty much the same. Racers ski several laps around a course. In-between those laps they get five bullets to shoot at five targets.
If they miss, there is a 150 meter penalty. Biathletes have to shoot a 150 meter target standing and in the laying prone position.
“Standing, the target is the size of a grapefruit," Jobe explained. "[In the prone position] the target is the size of a golf ball."
The biathlon is a mentally challenging sport that requires racers to ski hard and focus on shooting. Madigan has a gift for both of those skills, which is pretty impressive for someone who didn't grow up around guns.
"I have not ever shot a gun before biathlon, but after practicing I knew that if I stuck with it I could do it," Madigan said.
There is a certain bond between Madigan and her specially fitted .22 caliber rifle. When she skis it sits tight on her back, but when it's time to shoot it slips off her shoulder and she can fire faster than many of her male team mates.
"The most fascinating thing about this sport is how everyday everyone has a shot," Madigan said. "If you hit all the targets you can win even if you were 20th the day before. You can be anywhere any day.”
Madigan competes in the Junior Biathlon World Championships February 26 through March 4 in Estonia.