Skis, poles and suits
Biathletes wear a lightweight, breathable one or two-piece ski suit, like those worn in cross-country skiing. Because the faster freestyle (skating) technique is utilized in biathlon, as opposed to the classical style, skis are shorter and ski poles are longer than those used in classical. The skis may not be shorter than 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) less than the height of the skier.
A lightweight, small-bore rifle, specially designed for biathlon, uses .22 caliber ammunition, a bolt or lever action. The rifle is carried on the back with a carrying harness and the rifle barrel pointing up. There is a safety mechanism that can be engaged or disengaged manually by the biathlete. At the end of the race, a race official verifies that the safety mechanism has been engaged.
The magazines for the rifle hold five rounds of ammunition. In the relay, up to three extra bullets may be loaded individually.
The target range, standing 50 meters (160 feet) from the shooting position, has five circular targets to be hit in each shooting round. Each target is 115mm (4.5 inches) in diameter, with a smaller target of 45mm (1.8 inches) in diameter at the center. In the standing position, the "big target" must be hit; in the prone position, the "small target." Upon a hit, the target closes (white). Upon a miss, it stays open (black); for television, the target board flashes red.