Frequently Asked Questions
Biathlon is a small sport in Australia and although it's the most popular winter sport in Europe and worth millions in advertising euros, there really isn't much information about the sport. Here we outline some basic information.
If you still have questions, please feel free to contact us.
FAQ for New Biathlete
About the International Biathlon Union (IBU)
How do I get started in Biathlon?
The best way to get started is to come along to visit us at a training event in one of our biathlon centres, or participate in our development camp held at our range at Whiskey Flat. You can contact us on enquiries- and we can let you know the details of the next camp. At this camp you will learn the safety requirements of handling firearms and more about the sport.
In Victoria and NSW, there are a number of summer and autumn biathlon events where participants, instead of skiing, get around on skates, roller skis, scooters, Skikes or just run, and they target shoot with our special laser biathlon system.
How long will a typical race take?
Here’s a typical Australian race schedule:
8 – 8:30am sign in, bib collection
8:40 to 9: 40 am Zeroing (this means checking and adjusting the firearms accuracy)
9: 40 am Race briefing
9:50 am Start race
Depending on the slowest competitor, the race takes generally about an hour.
Australian races generally start early before the snow conditions deteriorate.
How can I help at race events?
It’s all hands on deck at race events and there are over 30 roles to fill in manning a National Championship event. Every adult competitor is asked to help out at the junior event that follows the adult races.
Every child competitor is expected to bring with them a volunteer adult, usually a parent, who will assist in the earlier race for adults.
Are there biathlon camps for beginners?
AB usually conducts a residential on-snow biathlon camp at Whiskey Flat in late June/ early July each year. Look out for Team App notices advertising this development camp. Places fill quickly with biathletes coming from all over Australia to attend, so be sure to book early.
Can I practise at the biathlon range anytime?
No, this is not possible.
The on-snow biathlon range is licensed specifically to Australian Biathlon and this means any use other than by Australian Biathlon is unlawful. It's no different to the range you shoot at locally - you must join that firearms club and only those members are permitted to use the club.
It's the law.
Just like at your home range where you're required to sign in each and every time you visit, the same applies to the range at Mt Hotham. You are required to obtain permission from Australian Biathlon's Executive Officer and provide full details before you are permitted to use the range. This applies for every instance of use.
We ask those who use the range to always tidy up, pack away gear and leave the range in a clean and tidy manner, with targets repainted, ropes and flags neatly put away, and take rubbish away for proper disposal, in readiness for use by other members.
Do I need to have a shooters license for Biathlon?
Oh yes! Each state has their own firearms licensing rules. In NSW you will have to join a small bore club ; sit for the firearms test (and pass the test of course!) then wait to be approved by the NSW Firearms Authority. The waiting period is long and as with anything to do with firearms regulations, the documentation and processes are extremely thorough but time consuming. Your local range club secretary will let you know step by step how to go about being licensed. Remember, a P650 is NOT a licence. It is merely a temporary permit to allow you to shoot under supervision.
If your child is a minor, you will need to also obtain a shooters licence. This will allow you to transport the child's firearm or provide supervision as require in NSW for minors.
If you're committed to the sport and want to acquire a Biathlon rifle, there's a different application process. Talk to your local range club armorer on how to go about applying for a PTA (Permit to Acquire).
Can I leave my children at the range while I go off to ski?
Biathlon, being a sport where firearms are handled requires a high level of adult supervision. At races, your assistance as a race official will be welcome. There are loads of roles where volunteers can assist after instruction, such as:
Pulling ropes to reset targets
Sweeping mats to keep them clear of freshly fallen snow
Getting hot drinks ready for the kids and officials
We ask all parents and supporters to obtain their State's Working With Children Certification. In NSW you can apply for the WWC certification on line at https://www.kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au/child-safe-organisations/working-with-children-check
At training sessions, less supervision is required and you're welcome to enjoy your ski. This assumes the athlete holds a current shooters licence. If they don't you will be required to be licenced and have them personally supervised.
Who can participate in Biathlon?
People from a wide range of ages and abilities can participate.
The main limitation relates to the use of firearms. Our state firearms legislation requires only persons over the age of 12 and who hold a firearms/ shooters licence can participate in Biathlon. It’s an endurance sport and will appeal to those who enjoy challenging their cardio-vascular system.
We do, however, in Victoria & NSW have laser biathlon which anyone can enjoy as there are no firearms restrictions for the use of this equipment. Look out for our notices about our summer/autumn biathlon activities.
We also welcome sit and stand disabled folk to try the sport with our laser equipment.
We have all ages at our events from youngsters at 6 years who compete with the laser biathlon system, to Masters (age 35+) as well as Veteran classes (age 50+). Our oldest active biathlete is over 70 years of age and is a 2014 Gold medal winner at the World Masters Biathlon Championships.
What equipment do I require?
Biathlon is a sport that combines cross country skiing and target shooting, so you'll require XC skate skis and poles, a biathlon rifle and ski clothing. For training off-snow, we use roller skis and skikes with poles.
Our NSW branch has a limited number of roller skis and skikes for our beginners; .22 target shooting rifles are available for rent.
Biathlon targets are imported and can be used only at licenced ranges and only by members of Australian Biathlon.
What is the IBU?
The International Biathlon Union (IBU) is the international peak body for the sport of Biathlon. You’ll find on their website: http://www.biathlonworld.com information about IBU events, athlete bios, live results, and current news.
Are there IBU Competitions?
The IBU has international competitions from the top tier, World Cup to events for young biathletes just starting out in the sport.
Entries to these events and as well any camp, coach or official event can be made only through the athlete’s Nation Federation. In other words, to access any IBU event whether as athlete, coach official or any other capacity, you must be a member of Australian Biathlon and only Australian Biathlon can process your application for participation.
Security must be respected at all times given this is a sport using firearms.
IBU Cup (including Junior IBU Cup from 2015/16)
Open European Championships
Youth and Junior events:
Youth Junior World Championships
IBU Junior Cup
IBU events held in locations all over Europe, and some years in North America and Asia. The events are from December through to March, and while the race is conducted by the IBU, the event is organized and managed by the local Organizing Committee (OC). The OC issues the invitations, sets the course, arranges accommodation, provides information for visa requirements, sets registration dates, arranges transport, provides personnel and so forth.
How do we know what Biathlon International races are on when?
Go to the IBU calendar page on http://www.biathlonworld.com/calendar/ and you’ll see the events listed.
We’ve only tried Laser Biathlon. How do we make the transition to Biathlon?
Biathlon is a sport that uses .22 high precision target rifles. State firearms regulations require that the person must be aged over 12 and holds a shooter’s license. You may make enquiries with your local shooting range as to how to attend the education and training session to qualify for a shooter license.
You may then contact licensed firearms dealers to enquire about purchasing a biathlon rifle.
Do the qualification criteria change?
The IBU rules do change so be sure to look out updates to qualification rules.
Australian Biathlon's selection rules also change annually, so be sure you have the latest version of the Selection Policy.
Can anyone enter these IBU events?
Here are the basic rules:
You need to be a member of an IBU sanctioned Nation Federation. Australian Biathlon is
an IBU sanctioned Nation Federation.
Whether athlete, coach or official, anyone at an IBU event not only must be a member of Australian Biathlon but must be registered on the IBU system prior to the end of September
The Nation Federation has to endorse the competitor. This is usually done by a letter of introduction.
The IBU expects the Federations to send only competent and competitively capable athletes (as well as competent and responsible officials and coaches) and expect the Federation's selection policies to provide quality control. Australian Biathlon’s selection policies can be found on our website under the Admin/Legal tab: http://www.biathlon.asn.au/
There are also age limits to events. While the IBU Rule Book states a minimum age of a youth participant is 16 years of age, a few Organizing Committees may permit competitors at age 15. Entry of such young children in adult competition is frowned upon by responsible sport management who endorse a philosophy of Long Term Athlete Development and is considered to be ill mannered for poor performing youngsters to hold up race officials.
Where do I find the IBU Rule Book?
The IBU website ref is: http://www.biathlonworld.com
Go down to the bottom of the home page click on Downloads
Scroll down till you find Rules
Is Australian Biathlon a National Federation?
Australian Biathlon is the only National Federation for Biathlon in Australia. Australian Biathlon is the only organization in Australia affiliated with the IBU and as well the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC). There is no other Biathlon National Federation in Australia. This means our members including athletes through our affiliation are the only Australians able to participate at IBU Competitions, camps, courses, etc and can access representation at the Olympics.
We enjoy an IBU designation as a Level “ C “ Nation Federation (NF). There is only one NF for each country.
Level “C” means our Federation is a Progressing Structure with expectations that we will host annual National Championships, and encourage participation in non-senior IBU events.
Now that we have 15 lanes at our Federation's range at Whiskey Flat, we anticipate soon hosting Oceania and Regional Biathlon Championships. We've started the internationalisation process inviting European biathletes to train in their off season at our range during our Australian winter.
How does Australian Biathlon benefit from its affiliation with the IBU?
Only members of Australian Biathlon can benefit from our relationship with the IBU. Some of the benefits strictly limited to members of the IBU:
The IBU conducts fully funded Biathlon camps in Europe and Regionally. Australia and New Zealand are in the Oceania Region and every two years, the IBU sends out a technical specialist to our region. Places are limited to this fully subsidised camp. In 2015, we hosted the first ever IBU camp in Australia at Mt Hotham which was attended by 12 Aussies and 4 Kiwi teenagers. The 2017 IBU Development camp will be held at Snowfarm and we will have the reciprocal opportunity to send 4 Aussies to NZ for this camp. The only cost to the participant is the cost of transport.
In the alternate years these Development camps are held in Europe, in December 2016, two of our Aussie teenagers enjoyed the fully funded IBU camp at Martello.
The IBU also conduct specialist coaching courses, and naturally only members can attend. Each year, Australia sends one or two coaches to Munich for this special course. Updating and upskilling, like any other Professional development is encouraged by Australian Biathlon.
The IBU provides grants to Nations for development of the sport locally and to encourage participation. Australian Biathlon applies this funding to growing sport participation focusing on the building of skill depth. We significantly subsidise camps in regional areas, on-snow camps at Hotham, and specialist camps in Europe.
You'll notice charges to participate in our events and training are minimal as we have a strong base of skilled and qualified volunteers, and we are able to draw on IBU grants.
Naturally, to benefit from these heavily subsidized camps, one has to be a member of Australian Biathlon.
Only members of Australian Biathlon can be entered into IBU events, whether as a competitor, coach or as an official.
What are the IBU qualification criteria?
The IBU sets criteria for athletes and Nation Federations. It's a simple point system:
The lower the points the better. the highest ranking athlete has ZERO (0) points.
To qualify for:
World Cup - the athlete must have an average maximum of 150 points.
World Championships - the athlete must have an average maximum of 180 points.
Winter Olympic Games - the athlete must have an average maximum of 180 points.
IBU cup continuance - the athlete must have an average maximum of 250 points.
But...that's just personal qualification. Its not sufficient to gain a start at the event as your Nation MUST also have Nation points and a high enough Nation Rank.
the higher the points the better.
Nation Points are valuable as the number of guaranteed starts depends on the Nation's rank. The higher the points, the higher the nation rank and the more starting places are "earned" by that nation. A nation does not have a start at the Winter Olympics or World Cup unless the Nation has achieved a minimum Nation Rank.
The IBU clearly wants nations to participate in teams, with both genders, in many events and competent performance. We know this because their points system for Nation points and Nation rank is geared towards:
mixed relays earn more points than single events
points are cumulative throughout the season
nation points are based on the final race position, not on the athlete's personal points
Australian Biathlon now focuses on team work and teams at competitions, this being the best way to secure guaranteed starts at the highest levels of competition.
The IBU overhauled selection and qualification rules in 2014 after Sochi to ensure only top grade athletes are able to compete at the highest level of competition. The previous system where places "unused" by higher ranked nations dropped down to lower ranked nations resulted in competitors who were simply not world class.
What is a Trimester?
Trimesters are terms used for IBU events for each of the three periods in the competition season. Athletes must qualify each trimester to move onto the next trimester.
Trimester 1 ends 31 December; Trimester 2 ends 31 January and Trimester 3 ends 31 March.
Each athlete competing at IBU events must maintain a minimum standard else, they'll sit out the next trimester.
What should I bring to the range?
Australia’s only biathlon range at Whiskey Flat is located in a sheltered grove about 15 minutes drive from Mt Hotham and about 20 minutes from Dinner Plain. You’ll find shops and restaurants at these settlements but not at Whiskey Flat.
Bring snacks, hot drinks in a flask, a change of warm dry clothes and your usual cross country ski gear.
Remember always to apply sun screen, and wear your sun glasses or Casco’s. (Cascos are flip up protective eye wear popular with cross country skiers)
You don't need to be at IBU or World Cup level to compete overseas. There are competitions for all levels and ages.
In all these instances, you will require a letter of endorsement from the National Federation/ Australian Biathlon vouching for your competency in the use of firearms. It is wise to always have this letter on your person should you ever be pulled over or asked by authorities.
Masters events for those over 35 years of age
For those under 35
The British Biathlon Championships, held at Ruhpolding Germany, also warmly welcomes Aussie Biathletes.
For University students
there are the Winter University Games held bi-annually.
What paperwork will I require to take my Biathlon firearm overseas for competition?
Contact us and we will guide you through the paperwork and requirements.
I’m told competitors are paid when they participate at IBU events! Is this true?
No, this is not true.
The IBU does not pay anyone to participate at any event. The only time an athlete is paid is prize money and this is only ever paid directly to the top 10 place getters at senior levels of competition.
Aus Biathlon also does not pay anyone to participate at any event, whether local or international.
The IBU does however, provide Nation Federations with grants to help them with costs of maintaining the organization and developing the sport. The IBU’s primary expectation of a NF is increased local participation and they provide untied funds to assist with this objective.
How much does it cost to compete in Europe?
Besides the cost of flights, transport while in Europe getting to training and events, accommodation and food, race entry fees, there's coach fees, hire car costs, tolls and petrol. We’ve found a budget of about $12K for eight weeks’ training and competing in Europe is considered reasonable and in fact for the last few years, our Australian biathletes have managed on less than $10k per person.
It is more expensive to train in high cost areas such as Scandinavia, than low cost countries such as Italy.