Biathlon, derived from the Greek word meaning “two tests”, is an Olympic sport combining cross-country skiing and precision rifle shooting. The combination of two different events—skiing and shooting—adds to the unpredictability of the competition outcome and therefore the excitement, suspense, and potential for surprise!
The sport has its roots in hunting techniques that have been used in Scandinavian countries for centuries. The sport, which dates to the mid-sixteenth century, became part of the Winter Olympics in 1960. Since its humble beginning, biathlon has grown into one of the most-watched winter sports across Europe, with television audiences in the hundreds of millions and events regularly drawing crowds of over 30,000 people.
When athletes arrive at the shooting range, they must shoot at a very small target, with a racing heartbeat and heaving chest, while the clock is running. Targets are 4.5 cm for prone and 11.5 cm for standing, with a 50 m distance from the shooting range. Athletes must evaluate weather condition on their own, with some clues from the wind flags. The ammunition used is of .22 caliber. The bullet leaves the barrel with a 380 m/sec speed. After a bullet has left the barrel it only takes a small hundredth of a second before the target is hit.