Biathlon – How to Play?

The biathlete should be completely fit to ski fast on cross country. Controlled heart rate is required for precise target shooting. Each biathlete holds a rifle and shoots the target from a distance of 50m (160ft).

The game has different stages and accordingly the shooting position of a biathlete can be either prone position or standing position. The target diameter is 1.8 inches or 45mm in case of prone position and 115mm or 4.5 inches in standing position.

Winter Olympics biathlon includes five events. They are individual, sprint, pursuit, relay and mass start competitions. The details of each event is given below −


Individual race is the oldest event of biathlon. The male biathlete runs a distance of 20km while the female runs over 15 km. In this event the skier has to shoot four targets each in five laps. The shooting positions for the target is prone, standing, prone, standing. If the target is missed then a one minute penalty is imposed.



Sprint has 10 km distance for males and 7.5km for women. Here the distance is covered three laps. The biathlete shoots once in the standing position while second time in the prone position. Every time a shot is missed a penalty loop of 150m is to be skied before the race can be continued.



Contestants for the pursuit event are chosen from the sprint event. Top 60 finishers of sprint race qualify for this event. The pursuit race is of 12.5 km for males and 10 km for females. Biathlete with the best timings in sprint event starts the race and is followed by other deserving candidates accordingly. The objective of this race is to accompany the leader and patch up ground to be the first to cross the finishing line.


The pursuit race is parted into five laps and four shooting bouts. Here the racers can team up at the target areas of the race. It’s better to shoot in the sequence of their arrival at the shooting range. Mostly this means that the racers simply stand and wait for their turns. Every time they miss a target a penalty loop of 150m is imposed before the racer can go along the course.


In this event all the biathletes start at the same time from the same source. After completing their course, the biathletes have to touch the next biathlete who will be running the next part of the race. For male biathletes relay is a 4 x 7.5 km and for female biathletes relay is a 4 x 6 km.


In short, all the four biathletes have to cover the distance in three laps and two shooting bouts. All qualified biathletes have to perform two shooting rounds. In each shooting round the biathlete faces five targets. In case if a shot is missed they are given three chances to manually load the bullet and try again. For the fourth time a penalty loop of 150m is to be covered.

Mass start

Mass start is the latest event that was included in biathlon events in 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. In this event top 30 biathletes who managed to maintain the best scores in other four events start the race altogether. For male biathletes mass start is a 15km race and for female biathletes it is 12.6km. There are five laps and four shooting rounds and for each missed target a penalty loop of 150 m is to be covered.

Mass Start

These five mini collections of games make biathlon an interesting and exciting game. This winter sport is pretty much challenging and needs complete dedication, stamina and concentration. After understanding the game a brief description regarding how to play the game is illustrated below.

  • Understanding the game − The aim of the game is to ski fast. The biathletes ski within a rifle range to shoot five targets in précised shooting positions. That is either standing position or prone position.

  • Fitness of Participants − For biathlon the player should be highly fit as apart from fast skiing the players should keep their heart rate calm and as low as possible in order allow for precise target shooting. As mentioned earlier the motto of the game is to hit all five targets. Every time the bullet hits the target, a metal panel encloses making it a successful hit. Every time the target is missed ski penalty loops sums up with the time scored. So more misses, gets more penalty loops to be skied for the skier.

  • Steps taken by a Biathlete − Then the biathlete leaves the range, skis off on the next loop, returns into the range and the cycle goes on unless the race distance is completed. Say for example, a biathlete has to complete a 10 kilometer course, the race might be 4 by 2.5 kilometers that is 2.5 mi × 1.6 mi loops and every time the biathlete enters the same range five targets are to be shot.

  • The winner − The biathlete who completes the race with minimum time including the penalty loops as compared to other qualified biathletes becomes the winner. A wise step for taking minimum time would be not wasting time skiing additional penalty loops and focus on precise shooting.

Special Requirements for Biathlon

Shooting lessons are recommended before participating in this game. A license for owning a gun along with safely handling a firearm is a must. It’s obvious to have a gun license but here the class of gun license should have permit to use a rifle for competition purpose.