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The contrast in these two discplines is what creates the unique challenge of biathlon - the all out physical exersion required in cross country ski racing, and the fine control and stability needed for accurate shooting.The combination of skiing and shooting used in the sport today is founded on a tradition of hunting, dating back over four thousand years.The first recorded biathlon race was organized in 1767 between Swedish and Norwegian military.Used for training and defense purposes, biathlon grew in popularity among military units in Scandinavia and Central Europe, and later became known as "military patrol".Each competitor skis distances ranging from 7.5km - 20km, while carring a .22 caliber rifle on their back.

Regular competitions did not take hold until the early twentieth century, when it was contested at the first Olympic Winter Games, at Chamonix, France, in 1924.

The sport remained on the Olympic program until 1948, when post-war sentiments caused it to be dropped.


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