Terminology
Visit EberleStock.com Rifle
The biathlon rifle is a .22 caliber, straight-pull-bolt action model with non-optical sights. Equipped with the a harness to carry the rifle while skiing and a custom ultra light stock, the rifle is completely adapted to its special purpose. The minimum weight is 3.5 kg (just under 8 lbs).
Arm Sling
Belt or webbing attached to the rifle fore stock that hooks into the athlete's "shooting cuff" on the upper arm to stabilize the rifle while firing in the prone position.
Harness
Backpack like shoulder straps used for carrying the rifle on the back. The average rifle weighs about eight pounds. Also visible in the photo is the rifle cover - used whenever the rifle is carried outside of the competition area.
Snow guard or snow cover
Cap covering the rifle muzzle that prevents snow from entering the barrel or the front sight. It is flipped open at the range before shooting.
Clip or Magazine
Used to hold five .22 caliber rifle rounds. Up to four clips can be stored in the rifle stock while the biathlete is skiing. At the range the clips are taken from the stock and inserted into the magazine well (a slot beneath the action) - thus loading the rifle.
Extra Rounds
In the Relay, 8 bullets are carried in each clip - five loaded in the usual way by bolting the rifle and three extra rounds carried in the base of the clip (shown left) that can be hand loaded. Upon entering the range, the biathlete deposits the three extra rounds in a cup at their firing point. The five rounds from the clip are fired at the five targets, if more rounds are needed to hit all five targets, the extra rounds are hand loaded.
Clicks
Rifle sight adjustments for wind and light conditions are made by moving the rear aperture using vertical and horizontal screws. The screws are turned using silver colored knobs that click as they are turned. Athletes listen for the clicks as they turn the knobs to know how far they have adjusted their sights. There are roughly six clicks across the prone target.
Zeroing
The time before a competition when the athlete shoots at paper targets to adjust the rifle sights for the wind and light conditions. Biathletes take turns shooting while coaches watch every shot through high powered scopes and give the athletes sight corrections - telling them how many clicks to adjust their sights in the vertical and horizontal axis. "Three left and two down" for example. During the competition coaches watch the shots but are no allowed to give any information to the athletes while they are on the shooting range.
Prone
The lying down shooting position. In the Individual competition the first and third shooting stages are shot in the prone position, as is the first shooting stage in a Sprint and Relay competitions. In the Pursuit and Mass Start competitions the first two stages are prone. To the naked eye the prone target looks the same as the standing target, however, the prone hit area is only 4.5cm in diameter. A good range time in prone is 25 seconds.
Off Hand or Standing
The standing shooting position used in the second and fourth shooting stages of the Individual competition, as well as the second stage of the Sprint and the Relay, and the third and fourth of the Pursuit and Mass Start. The target hit area is the same size as the aiming mark - 11.5cm or about 4.5 inches. Typically the top athletes in the world compete the off hand stage in about 20 seconds - hitting all five targets in under seven seconds from first shot to last.
Shoot Clean
Hitting all five targets during one shooting stage.
Penalty loop
150m loop adjacent to the shooting range that must be skied when targets are missed during the Sprint, Pursuit, Mass Start and Relay. One loop is skied for every target missed. 20 to 25 seconds is considered a fast loop time. The penalty loop is not used in the Individual competition, instead a one-minute penalty is added to the competitor's final time for each missed target.
Skate or Free Style Ski Technique
When using this technique, longer poles are used to drive the skier forward, gliding out onto the right leg and then back to the left leg - much like ice skaters. While kick and glide classical technique is allowed in biathlon competitions it is never seen at the international level. There are no classical-technique-only competitions on the international biathlon calendar, however, there are in cross-country ski racing.
Target
Metal target sizes are 11.5cm (4.5in) in diameter for standing targets and 4.5cm (silver dollar size) for prone targets. Shooting distance is 50m for all shooting stages. On a hit, the black target is covered by a white metal plate that flips up.
Learn more about biathlon competitions

back to top
<<back to About Biathlon