Here's a Guide to Shooting at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Shooting is an important aspect of the biathlon at the Winter Olympics

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Shooting is generally known for its role in the Summer Olympics, where the sport uses different guns for various events.

That changes in the winter, when shooting is combined with cross-country skiing to create the biathlon.

To medal in the biathlon, athletes must be formidable with their stamina, focus and strength.

Here’s everything you need to know about shooting at the Winter Olympics:

What is a biathlon?

The biathlon is a sport at the Winter Olympics that combines cross-country skiing and shooting. It is a race between the athletes as they ski through a cross-country trail divided with shooting rounds. Missed shots can result in time penalties.

Competing in a biathlon is like launching a penny into the end zone while your heart is pounding like a drum.

Germany has dominated the sport since its inception at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics, leading all nations with 52 total medals and 19 golds. Norway, Russia and France have also been competitive in the sport, something that the United States is unable to say. Team USA has never medaled in the biathlon.

What guns are used for shooting at the Winter Olympics?

While skiing, the athlete carries his or her gun – a small-bore rifle, weighing at least 3.5 kg. The rifle is bolt action or straight-pull bolt action, holding four magazines with five rounds each.

The target range shooting distance is 50 meters. There are five shooting targets (black circles) on the board across the range that athletes must hit to move on. When the shooters hit each target, the black circle flips to white, giving athletes and spectators the visual confirmation of a successful shot.

What are the Winter Olympic shooting events?

There are 11 biathlon events at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, running through Feb. 19:

  • Mixed 4x6 km relay
  • Women’s 15 km individual
  • Men’s 20 km individual
  • Women’s 7.5 km sprint
  • Men’s 10 km sprint
  • Women’s 10 km pursuit
  • Men’s 12.5 km pursuit
  • Men’s 4x7.5 km relay
  • Women’s 4x6 km relay
  • Men’s 15 km mass start
  • Women’s 12.5 km mass start
Team USA's Scott Patterson and Gus Schumacher finish in 11th and 38th respectively in the men's 15km + 15km skiathlon.

Each event has a different amount of shooting segments. Individual competitions have four shooting segments with five targets each. Sprint events are half the distance of individuals, with just two shooting segments. Pursuit and mass start competitions also have four shooting segments. Relay events – men’s, women’s and mixed – have two shooting segments.

All events will take place at the National Biathlon Centre in the Zhangjiakou cluster, just north of Beijing.

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