Biathlon athletes go the distance, aiming for precision as they shoot their targets. 

By Dania Haughton
February 15, 2018

In a paramount clash of endurance and precision, biathlon athletes put their bodies through the ultimate test. With its roots grounded in Scandinavian military survival pursuits, the sport combines two unlikely events: skiing and shooting. After skiing for various distances, athletes must collect themselves and slow down their heart rates in order to concentrate on shooting the targets. 

So just how far do biathlon athletes shoot? 

Athletes shoot targets set up 50m away and will shoot from either a standing position, for targets that are 4.5" wide, or prone position where the athletes lay on their stomachs, for targets that are 1.8" wide. Most races require that athletes shoot from both positions and each athlete must carry his or her rifle throughout the entirety of the race.

In individual biathlon races, athletes shoot at one target after the first four of five bouts. If an athlete misses a target one minute is added to their time. During the sprint, pursuit, and mass start events, athletes who miss a target must take a lap around the 150m penalty loop prior to continue on with the race.  

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