If there were ever an Olympic sport that embodied the traits of a hunter – Endurance, Precision, Embracing the Elements – the Biathlon is it. In a day and age where half pipes, pucks, brooms, and ice skates take center stage, why is no one paying more attention to an event where athletes are flying through the snow and shooting rifles?
How does that not get more coverage? Hopefully this Hunter’s Guide to the Olympics will help you find something worth watching during the Sochi games outside the bobsleds and ice rinks.
What is the Biathlon?
The Biathlon is like a cross country race on skis mixed with precision target shooting. It is extremely popular in European countries where the sport originated as an exercise for Norwegian Soldiers training for the military. Pretty cool, right?
Although it’s gaining momentum in the States, historically Germany, Russia, and Norway have dominated the event – so don’t expect USA to take home the gold. Aside from that, it should provide good entertainment value if you enjoy guns and snow!
To get a better idea about what exactly happens in a Biathlon, here’s a quick breakdown. Competition consists of a race in which biathletes ski around a cross-country trail system. The total distance is broken up by either two or four shooting rounds. These rounds are completed half in prone position and the other half standing. Depending on the shooting performance, extra distance or time is added to the contestant’s total. The contestant with the shortest total time wins.
For each shooting round, the biathlete must hit five targets. Each missed target is penalized in one of three ways, depending on the competition format (there are multiple competitions in the Biathlon – Sprint, Pursuit, Individual, Mass Start, and Team Relay):
- By skiing around a 150 meter (490 ft) penalty loop – (It would be like you having to climb in and out of your tree stand for every missed shot)
- By having one minute added to a skier’s total time – (Having to spend and extra hour searching for your missed arrow)
- By having to use an “extra cartridge” to finish off the target. (Like having to buy new ammunition before you could continue hunting)
The biathlete carries the small bore rifle, which weighs at minimum 7.7lbs. This does not count for the ammunition which is carried on a belt around the biathletes waist. The rifles use .22 ammunition and are bolt action or straight-pull bolt action.
The target range shooting distance is 50 metres or 160 ft. There are five circular targets to be hit in each shooting round. When shooting in the prone position, the target diameter is 45 millimetres or 1.8 in, when shooting in the standing position the target diameter is 115 millimetres (4.5 in). The targets are self-indicating, meaning they flip from black to white when hit, giving the biathlete as well as the spectator’s instant visual feedback for each shot fired. How nice would that be at your local range?
Now that you know a little bit about the event, here’s a breakdown of when you can catch the action:
Biathlon | The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
(All times are CT)
(All times are CT)
- • Feb 8 8:30 AM – Men’s Sprint
- • Feb 9 8:30 AM – Women’s Sprint
- • Feb 10 9:00 AM – Men’s Pursuit
- • Feb 11 9:00 AM – Women’s Pursuit
- • Feb 13 8:00 AM – Men’s Individual
- • Feb 14 8:00 AM – Women’s Individual
- • Feb 16 9:00 AM – Men’s Mass Start
- • Feb 17 9:00 AM – Women’s Mass Start
- • Feb 19 8:30 AM – Mixed Relay
- • Feb 21 8:30 AM – Women’s Relay
- • Feb 22 8:30 AM – Men’s Relay
If you’re looking for a new winter sport, or just something worth watching during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, we highly recommend checking out the Biathlon.
(*Sources – Wikipedia)