Encyclopedia of Sport: Every sport from around the world

Military Pentathlon

The military pentathlon is a multi-sport competition involving a shooting phase, obstacle run, obstacle swimming, grenade throwing, and cross-country running.

During the shooting phase, competitors are tested on precision by taking 10 shots in 10 minutes and rapid-fire by taking 10 shots in one-minute. The obstacle run requires competitors to navigate a 500-m course involving 20 obstacles. Some of the obstacles include a rope ladder, tripwire, balance beam and an assault wall. During the obstacle swimming, competitors must swim a distance of 50-metres while manoeuvring through four different obstacles. Then there is the throwing which involves competitors tested on precision and distance while throwing 16 inactive grenades at targets at varying distances. Finally, there is the cross country run taking competitors on an 8 km cross country run.

obstacle course a helping hand over an obstacle

The pentathlon is designed to test the ideal skills of a soldier and it has evolved based on the relevant skills required by the soldiers of its time. For example, by the end of world war two, fencing and horse riding became irrelevant skills for the modern soldier. This sport was once aimed at military personnel and since 1950 it has gained popularity alongside the annual world championships.

Interesting Fact: The competition is different for women. Women have fewer obstacles, throw lighter projectiles and the cross-country run is half the distance.

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