NWT Biathlon has been an active division since 1978 and has competed in the Arctic Winter Games, Canada Winter Games, National Championships, Polar Cup Circuit, Western Canadian Championships, Alberta Cup Circuit and local races in Yellowknife, Hay River and Ft. Smith. Cadet Corps in the NWT also offer biathlon and the N.W.T Biathlon Association and members of the Cadet Corps have participated in the Cadet National Championships. NWT Biathlon members have also competed at European Cups, World University Games and World Championships.

In the 2006-07 season the membership included:
166 athletes, 14 coaches, 24 officials, 70 supporters
Challenges of Biathlon in NWT
Ø Small population and large geographic area.
Ø Lack of leadership in remote areas to offer programs
Ø Lack of equipment – skis and rifles to be used in programming
Ø Weather creates challenges with outdoor programming and scheduling
Ø Exorbitant travel costs
Ø Lack of accessible high level competition

The word biathlon comes from the Greek word bi meaning two and athlon meaning contest. In theory biathlon can mean the combination of two sports. Traditionally the name comes from shooting and cross-country skiing. Biathlon has expanded to cover other dual contest of marksmanship and physical endurance.

Drawings that are over 4000 years old demonstrate men hunting on skis. As more and more of these hunters grouped together then contests began to test to see who was the best.

1767 was the first recorded biathlon competition in Sweden by soldiers who guarded the Swedish-Norwegian border. The first recorded ski club in 1861 in Norway promoted skiing and shooting for soldiers for national defense.

The first competition rules were developed in 1955. The first rules were written in German and then in French. In 1988 the English version became the official rules for Biathlon.

Shooting Ranges

The present day range is 50 meters in length. The shooting range has gone through major changes over the last 40 years. The traditional course consisted of 4 ranges that the biathletes would ski to. The distance varied from 150m 200m and 250m for prone shooting and 100 m for the standing. The rifle used was a high power 8 mm in caliber.

In 1963 the Germans suggested 1 stadium with all 4 ranges. This was to accommodate the spectators With the introduction of the 22 cal rifle competition rile in 1978 the range requirements changed to today’s 50 meter range.

Snowshoe Biathlon

Snowshoe Biathlon is very similar to Ski Biathlon, besides the obvious difference that the athlete is using snowshoes instead of skis. The races are the same except that the distances are shorter and the penalty lap is shorter. Snowshoe is very much a northern aboriginal sport. What is more natural than a trapper coming out of his tent, putting on his snowshoes, grabbing his gun and then looking for game to shoot at. Snowshoe biathlon became part of the Arctic Winter Games in 1978. Because of the traditions of hunting and trapping as a valued part of northern lifestyles it is hoped that snowshoe biathlon will remain popular among northern people.


Individual Race:This race is a long distance race where the bi athlete will ski approx. 1/5 of the distance and shoot 5 shells at five metal targets. The athlete then Skis another set distance and shoot again. This is repeated 3 -4 times depending on the age group. For every target missed there is a 1 minute penalty added to the total time. Because the athlete is shooting 15-20 times, the Individual race is know as the shooter’s race.

Sprint Race:
This race is a shorter distance and the racers only shoot twice. When they have completed 5 shots they have to ski around a 150 m loop once for every miss. Because there is only 10 shots fired this race is known as the skiers race.

Relay: The relay is made up 3 or 4 competitors who will ski the same distance as they did in the relay but they are given an extra 3 bullets so they have a total 8 chances at 5 targets. When one competitor has completed the total distance, then the next member of the team will start. Similar to the Sprint race all missed shoots are penalized with a one lap of the penalty loop for every miss.

Mass Start: The mass start is shorter than the individual and longer than the sprint. The athletes shoot 4 times. The individuals in a class will start at the same time. So the athlete in front is the athlete that is winning. For every miss athletes mnust do a penalty lap.

Pursuit: The pursuit race is set up to start of the results of a previous race. The winner of the previous race would start 1st and 2nd competitor would leave at time that was equal to the difference between 1st and 2nd in the previous race and this would continue for all the competitors. The competitors shoot 4 times and for every miss they do a penalty lap.