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here are rules for everything imaginable from sponsorship and drugs to course elevation. This section outlines the main rules needed to get someone started; more details can be found in the IBU Rule Book.

Targets: Each lane consists of five individual targets located at 50m to the left of the competitor when they enter the range. The five targets are arranged in a row in a metal box. The metal targets knock down if there is sufficient force. If sufficient force is applied a white paddle covers the single black target. This mechanism allows the competitor to easily count the number of laps he or she needs to complete; all five targets can easily be reset with the pull of a string by a range official. The standing target is 115mm in diameter, and in prone it is adjusted to 45mm.

Penalties: The penalty loop is an extra 150m skied after each time in the range. The loop must be skied once for every target missed; the onus is on the competitor to keep track of how many loops he or she has skied. Although there isn't a penalty for skiing too many loops however, there is two minute penalty for each loop missed. The penalty lap is located at the exit end of the range. An international level biathlete can complete a lap in 30-45sec. The time penalty consists of an additional minute added to the racer's time for each target missed and is only associated with the individual event.

Equipment: There are equipment checks at almost every race. This is done to ensure that all competitors are competing on a level field. Your rifle, skis and poles are marked with a unique sticker, usually your bib number when they clear the equipment check.

After you finish your race you are required to reenter the checking area to clear your equipment. An athlete must enter the checking area no later than 15 minutes prior to their start.

Rifle: The rifle is .22 caliber and can be made by any company, most commonly Anschutz, Vostok, or Lakefield. The Canadian Lakefield is an inexpensive rifle for beginners. Two restrictions regarding the rife are the trigger weight and the weight of the rifle itself. The trigger weight is the amount of pressure applied to the trigger to fire the firing pin, a minimum of 500 gm. A rifle cannot be lighter than 3.5 kg. The serial number of your rifle is recorded to ensure you have used the same one throughout the race.

Skis: Ski length is athlete's height minus 4cm.

For more information on the official rules, please contact your local member of the NWT Biathlon Association.

The word biathlon comes from the Greek word bi meaning two and athlon meaning contest. In theory biathlon can mean the combination of two sports. Traditionally the name comes from shooting and cross-country skiing. Biathlon has expanded to cover other dual contest of marksmanship and physical endurance.

Drawings that are over 4000 years old demonstrate men hunting on skis. As more and
more of these hunters grouped together then contests began to test to see who was the best.

1767 was the first recorded biathlon competition in Sweden by soldiers who guarded the Swedish-Norwegian border. The first recorded ski club in 1861 in Norway promoted skiing and shooting for soldiers for national defense.

The first competition rules were developed in 1955. The first rules were written in German and then in French. In 1988 the English version became the official rules for Biathlon.

Shooting Ranges
The present day range is 50 meters in length. The shooting range has gone through major changes over the last 40 years. The traditional course consisted of 4 ranges that the biathletes would ski to. The distance varied from 150m 200m and 250m for prone shooting and 100 m for the standing. The rifle used was a high power 8 mm in caliber.

In 1963 the Germans suggested 1 stadium with all 4 ranges. This was to accommodate the spectators With the introduction of the 22 cal rifle competition rile in 1978 the range requirements changed to today’s 50 meter range.

Snowshoe Biathlon
Snowshoe Biathlon is very similar to Ski Biathlon, besides the obvious difference that the athlete is using snowshoes instead of skis. The races are the same except that the distances are shorter and the penalty lap is shorter. Snowshoe is very much a northern aboriginal sport. What is more natural than a trapper coming out of his tent, putting on his snowshoes, grabbing his gun and then looking for game to shoot at. Snowshoe biathlon became part of the Arctic Winter Games in 1978. Because of the traditions of hunting and trapping as a valued part of northern lifestyles it is hoped that snowshoe biathlon will remain popular among northern people.


Individual Race:This race is a long distance race where the bi athlete will ski approx. 1/5 of the distance and shoot 5 shells at five metal targets. The athlete then Skis another set distance and shoot again. This is repeated 3 -4 times depending on the age group. For every target missed there is a 1 minute penalty added to the total time. Because the athlete is shooting 15-20 times, the Individual race is know as the shooter’s race.

Sprint Race: This race is a shorter distance and the racers only shoot twice. When they have completed 5 shots they have to ski around a 150 m loop once for every miss. Because there is only 10 shots fired this race is known as the skiers race.

Relay: The relay is made up 3 or 4 competitors who will ski the same distance as they did in the relay but they are given an extra 3 bullets so they have a total 8 chances at 5 targets. When one competitor has completed the total distance, then the next member of the team will start. Similar to the Sprint race all missed shoots are penalized with a one lap of the penalty loop for every miss.

Mass Start: The mass start is shorter than the individual and longer than the sprint. The athletes shoot 4 times. The individuals in a class will start at the same time. So the athlete in front is the athlete that is winning. For every miss athletes mnust do a penalty lap.

Pursuit: The pursuit race is set up to start of the results of a previous race. The winner of the previous race would start 1st and 2nd competitor would leave at time that was equal to the difference between 1st and 2nd in the previous race and this would continue for all the competitors. The competitors shoot 4 times and for every miss they do a penalty lap.


Summarized from: Niinimaa, Ph.D., Veli M.J., Double Contest Biathlon, 1998

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Myriam Bedard
Bédard first gained national recognition in 1987, when she won the Canadian Junior Biathlon Championship. She went on to become the first Canadian athlete to win a World Cup biathlon event in 1991, and she earned a bronze medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.

It was in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994, however, that Bédard won the admiration of people around the world when she became the only Canadian woman to win two gold medals in one Winter Olympics and the first North American to take home gold medals in the gruelling biathlon event.
Visit the Official Myriam Bedard Web Site.

In Memory of
Mary Beth Miller

 Mary Beth Miller