Para Biathlon was introduced in Innsbruck in 1988 for athletes with a physical impairment, and in 1992, athletes with a vision impairment also became eligible to compete.
The events include sprint, middle distance, pursuit and individual competitions and take place on a 2.0 or 2.5 km course skied three or five times in the free technique for a total race distance between 7.5-12.5 km. Between the skiing stages, athletes must stop in the shooting range and must hit five targets located at a distance of 10m. For each missed target either a 1-minute time penalty (individual competition) or a penalty loop that has to be skied immediately after leaving the shooting range applies. The winner is determined by the athlete who completes the competition with the fastest overall time. The most crucial success factor lies in alternating the skills of physical endurance and shooting accuracy during the competition. Athletes with vision impairment are assisted by acoustic signals, which depending on signal intensity, indicate when the athlete is on target.
The Para Biathlon range is divided into two parts with air rifle targets installed in one half and electronic targets in the other half. The number of targets installed depends on the level of competition. Athletes with a physical impairment (LW) shoot pellets at mechanical targets using an air rifle. Athletes with vision impairment (VI) shoot at an electronic target using an electronic rifle with an infrared camera and aim by listening to acoustic signals through a headset. Signal intensity indicates when the athlete is on target.
Para biathletes do not carry their rifles during the skiing stage but receive them in the biathlon range. Athletes with a physical impairment use personal rifles that are brought to the shooting mat by coaches when the athlete arrives at the range. Athletes with vision impairment use standardised rifles that remain at the shooting mat and are the same for all athletes. Athletes shoot in the prone position; however, some sit skiers may shoot in the sitting position if they are unable to shoot prone due to their impairment.
Para Biathlon is managed jointly by the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) and the International Biathlon Union (IBU) through a joint Steering Committee following the transfer of governance of Para Snow Sports from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in July 2022.
The Para Biathlon Working Group was established in May 2023.
IBU Para Biathlon contact is Arne Eidam.
See Invitation belowIBU Para-Biathlon Capacity Building Forum Invitation