Para Biathlon

User Monika Kukla of Team Poland competes in the Para Biathlon Women's Middle Distance Sitting.
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Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026

Para Biathlon

This sport combines the strength and endurance of cross-country skiing with the precision and sangfroid of target shooting. As we look forward to Milano Cortina 2026, here is everything you need to know about this discipline.


The biathlon for athletes with physical disabilities was introduced in Innsbruck in 1988, followed in 1992 for athletes with visual disabilities.

The races consist of a 2- or 2.5-km ski course covered three or five times in freestyle technique, for a total distance between 6 and 15 km. The men's events are held over 7.5, 12.5 and 15 km, while the women's events cover 6, 10 and 12.5 km.

Between the two stages, athletes must hit two targets located 10 m away. Each miss is penalised by an increase in overall race time. The most important factor for success lies in the ability to alternate between physical endurance and shooting accuracy during the competition.

The ‘standing’ group includes skiers with physical disabilities who are able to use two skis, even with the use of prosthetics. People with disabilities in their upper limbs ski without poles or with just one pole. At the shooting range, the athletes position the rifle with the surviving arm or shoulder movements and then give the command to fire to a coach, who presses the trigger. The ‘sit-ski’ group is for skiers who are not able to stand on two skis. They use a sledge called a sit-ski, consisting of a seat mounted on two cross-country skis. Skiers with visual disabilities and ‘standing’ skiers race in freestyle technique. ‘Sit-ski’ athletes use a technique similar to classical skiing.

Athletes with vision problems are assisted by acoustic signals which, depending on the intensity of the signal, indicate when the athlete is on target.

At Milano Cortina 2026, the para biathlon events will take place in Tesero, in the Val di Fiemme.


Picture of Tesero. Click on the image to discover more about the area.

Olympic History

Para biathlon was added to the Winter Paralympic Games in Innsbruck in 1988 for athletes with physical disabilities. Athletes with vision impairments began to compete in Albertville in 1992, and women's events were added to the Paralympic programme in Lillehammer in 1994.


This is the official equipment for para biathlon:

Rifle: This is any type of conventional air rifle or CO2 rifle with a five-round magazine, compliant with the regulations of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF).

For the blind class, the rifle is equipped with electroacoustic glasses. Vision-impaired athletes shoot with an electronic rifle that allows them to aim using their hearing. The closer the rifle is to the centre of the target, the higher the tone. The different tones produced when the rifle is moved allow the shooter to find the exact centre of the target.

Target: Biathlon uses metal knockdown targets consisting of a white front plate with five target openings with five independent knockdown targets. The targets must be black and replaced with a white indicator disk when it is hit. The target diameter is 21 mm for vision impaired athletes (class B) and 13 mm for athletes with physical disabilities (class LW).

Sit-ski: Some athletes with physical disabilities compete sitting down using a sit-ski. The seat includes safety belts and other straps.

Skis: Made of fibreglass, classic skis are usually 25–30 cm taller than the skier's height. They are lightweight, weighing less than 0.45 kg each, and narrow, with curved tips and a thicker, arched middle section.

Freestyle skis are about 10–15 cm shorter for greater manoeuvrability. They are also slightly stiffer and have tips that are less curved than classic skis. The underside of both types of skis has a groove in the centre to keep the ski straight when skiing downhill.


Here are the answers to your questions.

  • Who is the most decorated male Paralympic biathlete at the Olympic Games?

  • Who is the most decorated female Paralympic biathlete at the Olympic Games?

  • Which nations have won the most medals at the Paralympic Games?

  • Where will the Para biathlon competitions of Milano Cortina 2026 take place?

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