Watch this video from the International Biathlon Union to understand all things biathlon.
Biathlon shooting always takes place on a 50 metre range using a .22 calibre, 5-shot manual action rifle. The rifle is adapted from a target rifle, but modified with a quicker action (for rapid reloads), a magazine of 5 rounds, a carrying harness and a flip down cover to prevent snow blocking the barrel or sights.
Biathlon targets are metal plates arranged in groups of 5 for each athlete. The plates, designed to fall when hit, are either 45 mm in diameter for prone (lying on stomach) shooting or 115 mm in diameter for standing shooting.
Biathlon races take place on cross country ski trails over a number of standard race distances.
The tracks are prepared to an extremely high standard using a snow grooming machine, however, they are far from flat. A typical race will have sections of track that are hard to walk up, let alone race on skis. On the downhills you try to breathe and recover, but with cross country skis being so light and fast there's little time to relax. The track's tight corners are also very challenging for such fragile and flexible equipment.
The IBU has sanctioned certain race formats. The races vary in length and number of visits to the shooting range. In every case, there are an equal number of prone and standing range visits. Most races have penalty loops for missed targets, the Individual race has time penalties instead.
The IBU sanctioned races are listed below.
World Cups and Olympics always consist of a number of races held over different days. Thus, a biathlon competitor has a number of chances to win or achieve their personal goals. During the 2021/2022 season there were 10 World Cups scheduled on the international circuit. There were 70 races in total (including mens and womens).
See video below for a guide to the 2021/2022 season:
If you'd like to learn more, or perhaps even try biathlon, contact Biathlon New Zealand below!