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Biathlon - Winter Sports
Biathlon - Winter Sports Biathlon – the sport that fascinates millions in which a large and impulsive effort is necessary. Find more information here.

To be quick this is what counts!

Biathlon – the sport that fascinates millions. And it is a sport in which a large and impulsive effort is necessary for cross-country skiing whereas shooting needs exact control and stability of the body to hit the aims at a distance of 50 m with a small bore biathlon rifle. To be quick this is what counts, be it in cross country skiing or in the shooting range. It is often there that the results achieved decide on victory or defeat. It is therefore of utmost importance that a shooter can 100 % rely on his biathlon rifle at any weather conditions. After 1978 the rules required a small bore rifle with rim cartridge primer in cal. .22 l.r. (5.6 mm) for biathlon shooting. This caliber, next to air rifle shooting, is used exclusively for the Olympic Summer Games for rifles disciplines.

These small bore rifles are relatively heavy, up to 7.5 kg and have a cylinder action with lateral bolt handle which is lifted and pulled back for loading to feed the cartridge in by hand. Subsequently the action is pulled forward and locked by the lateral bolt handle which is turned downwards. When the biathletes turned to small bore rifles the cylinder action of J.G. ANSCHÜTZ GmbH & Co. KG was equipped with a repeater device and a 5-shot magazine and the weight of the rifle was reduced to 4.5 kg. With the extremely light firing pin with only 4 mm travel this rifle got an extremely short locktime of 4 m/s, i. e. that the bullet left the barrel after 4 m/s after the shot had been released by the trigger. It is of utmost importance for the shooter that the bullet leaves the barrel as fast as possible after shot release to reduce aiming mistakes.

The complete rifle slightly moves during the aiming process because it is not possible to permanently keep the rifle motionless. To be quick that is what counts. Thus the engineers also tried to reduce the time needed for the repeating process when they continued the development of the biathlon rifle. In Finland a rifle with lateral toggle action was developed, the so-called Finn-Biathlon. This action had the disadvantage that a lateral cocking lever was very far away from the center axis of the rifle. Also the cocking travel of the cocking lever was very long so that the cocking hand hat to leave the pistol grip for cocking. This impaired the stability of the shooter and rifle considerably especially in the standing position. Although the loading process could be slightly accelerated compared to the cylinder action, this rifle only survived for a short time and has disappeared completely nowadays.

Also the Russians developed a small bore biathlon rifle which had several improvements with regard to the Finn-Biathlon. This rifle is still manufactured today. But with this rifle as well the shooter risks to leave the center of aiming while repeating due to the lateral cocking mechanism. In addition the heavy striker piece of this system extends the locktime considerably compared to the ANSCHÜTZ-Fortner biathlon rifle. To reduce the disadvantages of a lateral toggle action the former GDR and Federal Republic of Germany developed a so-called pistol grip repeater.

Repeating was carried out there by tilting the pistol grip axially to the barrel axis. With this system the rifle did not leave the center axis by loading but there was the danger that the tilting of the pistol grip would result in transferred motion on the butt plate and thus on the shoulder of the shooter which made aiming difficult after repeating. Only a few of this pistol grip repeaters were manufactured and they also vanished from the market. All these developments with the disadvantages described above were finally followed by the ANSCHÜTZ Fortner biathlon rifle.

The patented Fortner straight pull action operates very smoothly and can be opened quickly with the index finger and closed with the thumb. The axial action facilitates aiming after repeating because the loading process is carried out by the wrist and it is not necessary to move the hand from the pistol grip. Therefore the rifle stays very stable in the position. The elbow does not move which is a great advantage especially in prone position. In addition the extremely short locktime of the Fortner action of 3.5 to 4 m/s combined with the possibility of extremely short repeating is unsurpassed. A further big point is the shooting accuracy of the ANSCHÜTZ cold tested precision barrels manufactured according to a special procedure. These barrels are available in normal version (total weight of the rifle approx. 4 kg) and in a sprint version which is 200 g lighter.

More than 97% of the biathletes who take part in international competitions use this extraordinary rifle made by ANSCHÜTZ.

How the Olympic Biathlon Sport developed:


The first skiing competitions with shootings were carried out in Norway.


Beginning of the military patrol events, the predecessor of biathlon is an Olympic demonstration competition.


Military patrol event as Olympic demonstration competition.


Military patrol event as Olympic demonstration competition.

Union Internationale de Pentathlon Modern (UIPM) founded.

Biathlon becomes an activity in UIPM.

IOC accepts Biathlon.

Rules for Biathlon competitions are approved and UIPM recognizes Member Federations for both sports.


In this year the competition was incorporated into the International Union of modern pentathlon (UIPM).
The new uniorn had the description Bezeichnung UIPMB.


First Biathlon World Championships in Saalfelden, AUT (Men only).


Men’s 20 km Individual competition held in Olympic Winter Games, Squaw Valley, USA.


First relay competition in World Championships.

First Junior Men’s World Championships in Altenberg, GDR - Individual, Relay.


First relay competition in Olympic Winter Games, Grenoble, FRA.
The letter B is added to UIPMB.


Sprint included in World Championships.


Last large bore World Championships.

Change to small bore rifles (.22 inch caliber) and first mechanical targets, Hochfilzen, AUT.
The distance was determined to be 50 m.

First sprint competition in Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, USA.
The folding targets were established.


First Women’s World Championships, Chamonix, FRA.


Joint World Championships for Men and Women in Feistritz, AUT
and separately for Junior Men and Junior Women in Voss, NOR.


First Women’ competitions in Olympic Winter Games, Albertville, FRA.


Foundation of an independent union within the UIPMB in London, GBR: the International Biathlon Union (IBU).

First Summer Biathlon World Championships, Hochfilzen, AUT (Cross Country Running and Shooting).

Pursuit competition in World Championships and World Cup events

IBU separates from UIPMB in Salzburg, AUT, recognition of IBU as an International Federation by the IOC.
Mass Start becomes an official competition.

Pursuit competition accepted in the Olympic program, Team competition removed from World Championships.
Mass Start competition in the program of the World Championships.

Congress decides to hold Youth World Championships annually in conjunction with Junior World Championships.

Pursuit competition held at the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, USA.

First Mixed Relay World Championships in Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS.

Mass Start competition in the program of the Olympic Winter Games 2006 Torino, ITA.
First Roller Ski SB World Championships, Ufa, RUS.

50-year-anniversary of Biathlon celebrated at World Championships in Ostersund, SWE.

Separate highlights in Summer Biathlon: Rollerski-Biathlon at IBU SB WCH and Cross Biathlon at IBU SB ECH.

Acceptance of Mixed Relay into Olympic Program from Olympic Winter Games 2014 onward.

20-year-anniversary of the IBU


Biathlon consists of ten events in the Olympic programme. Men and women
compete in a sprint, pursuit, individual and relay.
Although all biathlon disciplines combine skiing and marksmanship, the
sport features several distinct events.


During the sprint, women race 7.5km and men race 10km. Competitors stop
twice and must hit all five targets with five bullets. For each target
missed, athletes take a lap around the 150m penalty loop. The top 60
finishers of this competition qualify for the pursuit.


In the pursuit, the competitors start at intervals based on their finishing
time in the sprint competition. Women race 10km and men race 12.5km.
Competitors stop four times and must hit all five targets with five
bullets. For each target missed, athletes take a lap around the 150m
penalty loop.

Mass start

In mass start, the competitors start all at the same time. Women race 12,5km and men race 15km. Competitors stop four times and must hit all five targets with five bullets. For each target missed, athletes take a lap around the 150m penalty loop.


In the individual event, women race 15km and men race 20km. All competitors
stop four times at the firing range and must hit all five targets with five
bullets. For each target missed, one minute is added to their total time.


The relay is a fast-paced team event in which four-person teams tackle four
7.5km legs for a total of 30km. It begins with a mass start by the first
skiers of their respective teams. Each team member has two firing sequences
and is allowed three extra bullets (a total of eight) to hit five targets,
yet must load the three extra bullets one by one. For each target left
standing, competitors ski a lap around the 150m penalty loop.
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