1 . Individual
The 20 kilometres (12 mi) individual race (15 km for women) is the oldest biathlon event; the distance is skied over five laps. The biathlete shoots four times at any shooting lane, in the order of prone, standing, prone, standing, totaling 20 targets. For each missed target a fixed penalty time, usually one minute, is added to the skiing time of the biathlete. Competitors starts are staggered, normally by 30 seconds.
2 . Sprint
The sprint is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) for men and 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) for women; the distance is skied over three laps. The biathlete shoots twice at any shooting lane, once prone and once standing, for a total of 10 shots. For each miss, a penalty loop of 150 metres must be skied before the race can be continued. As in the individual competition, the biathletes start in intervals.
3 . Pursuit
In a pursuit, biathletes starts are separated by their time differences from a previous race, most commonly a sprint. The contestant crossing the finish line first is the winner. The distance is 12.5 kilometres (7.8 mi) for men and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) for women, skied over five laps; there are four shooting bouts (two prone, two standing, in that order), and each miss means a penalty loop of 150 m. To prevent awkward and or dangerous crowding of the skiing loops, and overcapacity at the shooting range, World Cup Pursuits are held with only the 60 top ranking biathletes after the preceding race. The biathletes shoot on a first come, first served basis at the lane corresponding to the position they arrived for all shooting bouts.
4 . Mass start
In the mass start, all biathletes start at the same time and the first across the finish line wins. In this 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) or 12.5 kilometres (7.8 mi) for women competition, the distance is skied over five laps; there are four bouts of shooting (two prone, two standing, in that order) with the first shooting bout being at the lane corresponding to your bib (Bib #10 shoots at lane #10 regardless of position in race.) with rest of the shooting bouts being at the lane in the position they arrived (Arrive at the lane in 5th place, you shoot at lane 5.). As in sprint races, competitors must ski one 150 m penalty loop for each miss. Here again, to avoid unwanted congestion, World Cup Mass starts are held with only the 30 top ranking athletes on the start line (half that of the Pursuit as here all contestants start simultaneously).
5 . Relay
The relay teams consist of four biathletes, who each ski 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) (men) or 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) (women), each leg skied over three laps, with two shooting rounds; one prone, one standing. For every round of five targets there are eight bullets available, though the last three can only be single loaded manually one at a time from spare round holders or bullets deposited by the competitor into trays or onto the mat at the firing line. If after eight bullets there are still misses, one 150 m penalty loop must be taken for each missed target remaining. The first leg participants start all at the same time, and as in cross country skiing relays, every athlete of a team must touch the teams next leg participant to perform a valid changeover. On the first shooting stage of the first leg, the participant must shoot in the lane corresponding to their bib number (Bib #10 shoots at lane #10 regardless of position in race.), then for the remainder of the relay, the relay team shoots at the lane in the position they arrived (Arrive at the range in 5th place, you shoot at lane 5.).
6 . Mixed relay
The most recent addition to the number of biathlon competition variants, the mixed relay, is similar to the ordinary relay but for the composition of the teams, each of which consists of two women and two men. Legs 1 and 2 are done by the women, legs 3 and 4 by the men. The womens legs are 6 km and mens legs are 7.5 km as in ordinary relay competitions.
7 . Biathlon Competition
The skier carrying their .22 rifle in a harness skis off along a cross country trail (on cross country skis). The objective is to ski fast. They ski into a rifle range and shoot five targets in defined shooting positions which are either standing or prone (lying down). See in the image, the biathletes are in the prone position on special mats placed on the snow at the rifle range.
8 . shooting
The competitor has to be extremely fit so that despite the fast skiing, their heart rate is calm and as low as possible, to allow for accurate target shooting. When the bullet hits the target, a metal panel closes over, indicating a successful hit. The aim is to hit all five targets. If any target is not hit, the skier may have to ski penalty loops and this adds to the time scored. The more misses, the more penalty loops to be skied.
9 . Distance is completed
The competitor then leaves the range, skis off on the next loop, comes back into the range and the process repeats itself until the full race distance is completed. For example, to compete a 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) course, the race may be 4 by 2.5 kilometers (2.5 mi ? 1.6 mi) loops and each time the competitor comes into the same range he has to shoot the five targets.
10 . The winner
The winner is the biathlete with the shortest overall time including time on penalty loops. Naturally, the competitor will want to shoot accurately, so as not to waste time skiing additional penalty loops.