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Biathlon is an Olympic winter sport, which combines competitive, free-technique cross-country skiing and small-bore rifle marksmanship.

Several other competition forms of movement and shooting - such as ski archery, snowshoe Biathlon, running and shooting and mountain bike Biathlon - are also normally included in the general category of Biathlon. The word competition is used in Biathlon instead of race because it is not only a race but a combination of two different competitive activities.

The combination of two very contradictory disciplines, skiing and shooting, in the same competition confronts an athlete with a very demanding challenge. Cross-country racing requires intense, full out physical exertion over an extended period of time while shooting demands extremely fine control and stability. When athletes arrive at the shooting range, they have to shoot at a very small target, with a racing heartbeat and heaving chest because the clock is running even while they are shooting.

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Governing Bodies

International Biathlon is governed by the International Biathlon Union (IBU), an International Federation with 58 member nations and an office in Salzburg, Austria. The IBU has jurisdiction for World Championships, World Cups, Continental Championships and Cups, and also provides technical supervision at various games such as the World University Games. Rules for Biathlon are published by the IBU and are used universally, including the Olympic Winter Games.
Biathlon Canada is the National Sport Organization and governing body for Biathlon in Canada, and has an office in Canmore, Alberta. The Association has jurisdiction over the Canadian Championships, Eastern and Western Canadian Championships, and Canada Cups. All Canadian provinces and territories, Divisions of Biathlon Canada, have a Biathlon movement and many have a full time office and staff. Most Divisions have extensive programs including Division Championships and Cup circuits.

General Description of a Biathlon Competition

In a Biathlon competition the Biathlete skis distances varying from 7.5 to 20 km and stops at the shooting range to shoot from two to four times, with both the distance and number of shooting bouts depending on the type of competition in question. The shooting distance is always 50 m and five rounds are fired in each bout at five targets, except in the Relay competition in which the competitor has three spare rounds for each bout. There are two shooting positions, prone and standing, which are done in a sequence depending on the competition.
Target diameters are 115 mm for standing and 45 mm for prone. During the entire competition, from start to finish, the clock is running for the competitor - there is no time-out for shooting.
Penalties for missed targets are imposed either as one minute of added time per target for the Individual competition or as a 150 m penalty loop - done immediately after each bout of shooting - for all other competitions.
In essence, the competitor starts at the start line, skis one trail loop (length depending on the competition), comes to the range and shoots, skis another loop, shoots, and so on, and then finishes with a ski loop to the finish line after the last bout of shooting. For the Individual and Sprint competitions, starts are done with one competitor at a time with a 30 second or one minute interval. In a Pursuit competition, starts are based on time intervals from the qualifying competition and for the Mass Start all competitors start together simultaneously. In the Relay competition, the first members of all teams start simultaneously in a mass start and after completing their part, tag the next member to start them on their way. For Team competitions, teams start with all members as a group, with one minute between teams.
In principle, throughout the competition, the Biathletes are responsible for their own actions, such as selecting a target in the Individual and Sprint competitions (assigned in the Relay), and for counting the number of missed plates on their targets and then skiing the correct number of penalty loops. However, they must always follow the stipulations of the competition rules.

Competition Season


Typically the competition season for Biathlon NS runs from January to March each year beginning with Atlantic Cup competitions being held in NB, PEI and sometimes NL.  There is an Eastern Canadian Championship held in a location in QC, NB, PE or NL followed by the Canadian Championship at the end of the season.

Athlete Classes

Atlantic Cup Classes:  

-Air Rifle Boys and Girls (ages 9-13)

-Sport Men and Women (recreational athletes aged 17+)

-Masters Men and Women (competitive athletes ages 35+)

-Plus all of those listed below

Eastern Canadian Championship Classes:

-Junior Boys and Girls (ages 12-14)

-Senior Boys and Girls (ages 15-16)

-Masters Men and Women (competitive athletes ages 35+)

-Plus all of those listed below

IBU Classes/Canadian Championship Classes:

-Youth Men and Women (ages 16-18)

-Junior Men and Women (ages 19-21)

-Men and Women (ages 22+)

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