Accidents and accidental discharges of a rifle can be eliminated by following three rules:
- Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
- Keep the action open and rifle unloaded until ready to use. The action is the part of a firearm that loads, fires, and ejects a cartridge.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
Safe practices required of participants prior to training/practice sessions or races :
- Check the barrel and action of your rifle for proper functioning.
- Keep the ammunition separate from your rifle.
- Do not carry or transport a rifle with a chambered round or a magazine inserted into the magazine well.
Biathlon range safe operating procedures for participants:
- Eye protection is required at the biathlon range. An eye cup (blinder) will be considered a suitable eye protection.
- Hearing protection at the range is recommended but not required.
- Always treat a rifle as if it was loaded.
- Keep your rifle bolt open until you are in position and ready to shoot.
- The muzzle of a rifle must be pointed in a safe direction at all times. The muzzle must be carried in the upward full vertical position, or pointed downrange (toward the targets) when at the firing line.
- Rifles may only be moved when properly harnessed or carried by the barrel with the muzzle pointed upward. In rifle carry situations, shooters may not remove a strap of their rifle carrying harness from their shoulder before they have reached the shooting lane from which they will be shooting.
- The rifle may not be carried with a live round in the chamber or a loaded magazine in the magazine well.
- Firing may not commence until a red flag is elevated on the range flagpole and the command “RANGE IS OPEN” has been given by the Chief of Range/Range Safety Officer in charge.
- Never race with a rifle. Leave the rifle on the designated rack or the mat at the shooting range.
- A rifle is considered unattended when it is exposed (uncased) and out of the control of its owner or designated user. An unattended rifle on the mat or a rifle rack must have the bolt open.
- Don't load your rifle until you are in position to fire with the rifle pointed in the direction of the target.
- Be certain of your target and only shoot at your target. Cease fire if you see any wildlife enter the range.
- When the command “CEASE FIRE” is given, athletes must stop shooting immediately, remove the magazine, open the rifle bolt, lay the rifle on the mat or place it in a rifle rack. Anyone on the range who observes an unsafe condition may give the command “CEASE FIRE.
- Before personnel move downrange, the Range Safety Officer will give the command “RANGE IS CLOSED.”
- When the “Range is Closed” command is given, shooters must place their rifle with open bolts and empty magazine wells in the rack or on their back, empty and in full vertical position.
- Never handle a rifle on the firing line when someone is down range.
- When dry firing, point the muzzle in a safe direction, not in the direction of people, animals, vegetation, or man-made structures.
- If you see an unsafe act, bring it to the attention of the individual involved and a range or event official.
- Don’t engage in horseplay on the range.
- Keep the rifle bolt open (bolt handle completely to the rear) once the rifle is removed from carrying case, placed on the rifle rack or on the ground/range mat.
- Rifles must be unloaded after each shooting bout. That is, the chamber must be empty and the magazine removed from the rifle. At the end of training or race, participants must perform a safety check before leaving the shooting range by opening the bolt and removing the inserted magazine. Participants must also remove all ammunition from both the stock and all the magazines before leaving the shooting range.
After leaving the range after practice or a race:
- Do not leave your rifle unattended in a public area.
- Store your rifle and ammunition separately and out of reach of children.
- Check your rifle for proper functioning.
- Clean your rifle as needed or at least every 1,000 rounds.
Biathlon Rifle Range Terminology
Cease Fire: stop shooting, clear rifle. Can be given by anyone who sees any unsafe situation.
Clear Rifle: bolt open, no round in the chamber, remove magazine.
Firing Line: area designated to shoot from with numbered positions. No one goes forward of the firing line unless "CEASE FIRE" or "Range Closed" command is given.
Firing Point: a numbered position on the firing line from which a competitor shoots at the correspondingly numbered target.
Target Line Area: where targets are set up.
Down Range Area: in front of the firing line in the direction of the targets.
Prone: shooting position lying down.
Standing: shooting position standing up (also called "offhand").
Additional safety resources:
US Biathlon Association: USBA Safety Videos