Biathlon is the only Winter Olympic sport that includes shooting a gun. 

By Dan Gartland
February 13, 2018

Biathlon is the only Winter Olympic sport in which the competitors wield a deadly weapon—well, depending on how you feel about hockey sticks—but the gun is unlike anything most shooting enthusiasts are used to. 

The most basic description of the equipment is that it’s a .22 caliber rifle with five-round clips and must weigh at least 3.5 kg (or 7.7 pounds). But it’s also way more complex than that. As this video from Fox News explains, the rifle has all sorts of modifications that make it perfect for biathletes. It has covers to make sure the sights don’t get covered in snow and a bicep clip to stabilize the weapon in the prone shooting position. 

Biathletes shoot from two positions—standing and prone. The targets are placed 50 meters (164 feet) away in either case but the targets are smaller (45 millimeters, 1.77 inches) for the prone portion than for the standing portion (115 millimeters, 4.52 inches). The athlete gets five shots to hit five targets and each miss results in a 150m penalty lap being added to his or her skiing distance.

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