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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
By Jerry Kokesh, US Biathlon Association