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                    Glen Eberle -- From breaking rifle stocks to creating a                      revolutionary new stock for US Biathletes

A visual history of the impact of the Eberle stock on the Olympic sport of biathlon:

 

Above is the 11.5 lb Anschutz in use before 1986

An early Eberle rifle.  It set the International Biathlon Union's baseline weight rule of 7.5 lbs.

The 2006 US Olympic rifle.  It displays new standards of ergonomics -- and style!

The following article is from the US Biathlon Association's website leading into the 2006 Olympic Games:

Glen Eberle was one of those biathletes who bridged the transition era from the big bore/classic skiing era of biathlon to the small bore /skating era, competing in the 1980's.

Today, no longer competing, 1984 Olympian Eberle is in the forefront of a second revolution in biathlon, as a rifle stock designer. Back in his competitive days, Eberle yearned for a better rifle stock; stronger, lighter and more durable than the monstrous slabs of wood weighing up to 11 pounds that he carried prior to 1986.  Initially, the thought was just to make a stronger stock. The stocks of the era had a "bad habit" of breaking at the pistol grip when the biathlete took a simple hard fall.

But as the Dartmouth graduate got deeper into the problem, via a grant from the USOC, he found the issue more complex. Thus, after consultation with engineers, and even NASA scientists, he built the first Eberle Stock, which was lighter, and more durable than wood, through its use of composite materials. This was simply a revolution in the rifle stock business. His composite Sitka Spruce/carbon fiber stock was over 3.5 pounds lighter than anything on the market at the time. Imagine losing 3.5 pounds in one day and that sudden feeling of lightness when you skied a 20K! That is what happened to the US biathletes. And now the fear of breaking a stock was also gone.

 These tough stocks could survive being run over or hit by a car. Eberle documents both incidents. He was actually hit by a car while crossing a road during a competition in Italy. Dusting himself off, he checked the rifle and it had no damage. Unfortunately, the car was a bit worse off as several pieces of chrome littered the road. Eberle finished the race and the car was probably towed.

After Eberle had fitted most of his US teammates with his Eberle Stock, it suddenly became the standard for rifle stocks in the small-bore era. Virtually every biathlon rifle stock since that time is either an Eberle or a variation on the theme. His lightweight rifle stock even transformed international rules, as it became the standard for the IBU's 3.5 Kg minimum rifle weight.

Now it has been almost 20 years since those big changes in the sport and Eberle is back at it. He has created his 2006 series of stocks. Is it hard to imagine which team is this new revolution in rifle stocks? Of course, it is the US Biathlon Team once again. Last season, three of our top athletes, Jay Hakkinen, Rachel Steer, and Jeremy Teela became the "guinea pigs" for this "Formula One" look in rifles, which as Eberle says," is made for racing." 

In describing what his hopes are for the US Biathlon team and the athletes using his new stock, Eberle commented, "I remember what a boost it was when we put together our first stocks for the US team back in the 80's, we had a rifle that was three and half pounds lighter and it was just as accurate as heavier ones. With our new product, I hope we can impart some of that extra confidence and give a little bit of extra edge to our athletes as they approach 2006."

His new "masterpiece" is a combination of rarefied aluminum and carbon fiber and to say it turned some heads on the World Cup circuit last season is an understatement. At virtually stop on the circuit, the television cameras sooner or later focused on this very different rifle stock used by the US trio. Besides causing a buzz in the media, the stock proved itself with results. Rachel Steer had simply the best season of her career with several clean shooting days. Her shooting accuracy was noticed by other competitors as German star Uschi Disl commented to Rachel, "You are shooting so well. I think you are shooting clean every day." That recognition alone sums up the success of the athletes using the new Eberle Stock.

Where does Eberle hope to take his new revolution in rifle stocks? He explains, "Through the biathlon stock, I want to demonstrate what our company can do and then adapt it to other products for the shooting and outdoors industry." He also is producing revolutionary backpacks for mountaineering, photographers and tactical uses.

 He showcased his products to several groups of accuracy shooters at the February Shot Show. As the show progressed, people were dropping by his small booth for the second and third times, and the reaction was universal, "We have been through this whole place and there are no products like this."

 These words were not lost on Eberle. They simply give him more enthusiasm for this new business, which he says is simply a renewal of "his creative interest in high performance products," which had been suppressed by family and career demands of an airline pilot over the past decade and a half.

Unlike when he made the first stocks for the US Biathlon team as simply a hobby, Eberle is focusing on his new stocks and related products as a business. Behind it all is, "A philosophy of excellence in design has evolved at our company.  We have come to realize how many things there are that, frankly, could be made better.  We’re developing an entire line of High Performance Gear that will continue to bring products that make sense to the shooting sports."

A new generation of US biathletes is thrilled to have Eberle's philosophy and efforts behind them as they focus on Torino. Jeremy Teela summed up the Eberle Stock story as he admired his black and silver aluminum masterpiece last winter, "Awesome."

 

 -- By Jerry Kokesh, US Biathlon Association

 

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