M o d e r n  P e n t a t h l o n  A u s t r a l i a  I n c

The Best All Round Athletes In The World

The Five Events

Modern pentathlon comprises the five disciplines of shooting, fencing, swimming, horse riding and running.  In 2009 the shooting and running disciplines were condensed into one event ‘the combined event’ to make the sport more compact and spectator friendly.

Fencing is a series of one-touch bouts with epée swords. The fencing event of modern pentathlon is a round-robin tournament, with a single touch deciding each match. The fencing event is held usually in an indoor arena on special strips (pistes) measuring 14m long and between 1.5m and 2m wide. Each competitor has a bout against every other competitor. Bouts last for one minute, the winner being the first fencer to score a hit. If neither scores a hit, both competitors register a defeat, a double hit, doesn’t count. Point penalties are awarded for a variety of infringements including hitting the epee on anything other then the opponent to register to a hit, crossing the boundary line with both feet or to avoid a hit, dangerous play and when a fencer turns their back on the opponent. Seventy percent bouts won correspond to 1000 pentathlon points. Each win is called a victory and each loss a defeat. Each victory over or under the 70% mark is worth a specific point value and this number is in accordance with the number of competitors: 
• 22-23 Bouts gives +/- 40 points
• 24-26 Bouts gives +/- 36 points
• 27-29 Bouts gives +/- 32 points
• 30-33 Bouts gives +/- 28 points
• 34-39 Bouts gives +/- 24 points
Example: 36 competitions (the number of athletes in a final) means 35 bouts, 70% of 35 bouts = 25 victories = 1000 points, 23 victories are therefore worth 952 Pentathlon points.


Pentathletes usually have a swimming background, which is considered to be the only pentathlon discipline that cannot be taught at a higher level at an older age. For this reason, good swimming standards are considered to be a “precondition” for participation in Modern Pentathlon. The swimming event is a freestyle race over 200m for men and women with athletes seeded in heats according to their personal best time. A time of 2:30 earns 1000 Pentathlon points. Every 0.33 seconds is worth +/- 4 points and thus the value of each swimming second is worth 12 points. Example: the time 2:32.66 minutes corresponds to 968 points. Forty point penalties are incurred for a false start, failing to touch the wall at the end of a lap or leaving the pool in an incorrect manner as stipulated in the rules.

The riding even (equestrian show jumping) included in the Modern Pentathlon competition involves jumping over obstacles of up to 120cm in height. The obstacle course is between 350-450m in length and includes 12 obstacles with one double and one triple, for 15 jumps. Athletes compete on horses provided by the organisers, which are selected from a random draw. For warm-up and preparation purposes, athletes are allowed to ride their allocated horse for 20 minutes and to have up to 5 trial jumps in the warm-up arena provided. Pentathletes are given 20 minutes to inspect the course at any time during the competition programme according to the organiser’s schedule. The athlete has a specific time limit in which to complete the course, and the time limit is set according to its length.  A clear round in time allowed (varies between 1 minute and 1.17 minutes) gives the rider 1200 pentathlon points. For each mistake the rider loses points. Examples of penalties given are 20 points for knock-down and 40 points for every refusal or disobedience: but any disobedience leading to the knocking down of an obstacle gives 60 points deduction. After 2 refusals to jump, the rider must try to jump the next obstacle. A fall of the rider from the horse or if they both fall is a 60 point penalty.  After 2 falls the riding will be terminated. In case of riding terminations for every obstacle not jumped, the rider loses 100 points. The most common cases of riding terminations are: Wrong course, second fall, exceeding the time limit that is double of the time allowed and retiring from the competition.Each second over the time limit means a deduction of 4 points.  The maximum time is the double of the standard time. If the rider is slower than the time allowed, the riding is terminated Riders must jump the obstacles in order. Riders must wear protective head-gear and a riding jacket and can use a whip and spurs: Horses hoods and blinkers are prohibited.

Combined Event
In 2008, the UIPM Congress passed a motion to change the competition format of the Modern Pentathlon to combine the shoot and run disciplines. This is now known as the “combined event” and is the final event of the day’s competition. In the individual competition for men and women at Senior, Junior and Youth A levels, athletes start with a handicap start, approx. 25m run, to a shooting range where they are required to hit 5 targets (time limit 1’10”/1’30”for youth before beginning a 800m run. This is repeated 3 further times for a total of 20 targets and 3200m run. Two thousand (2000) Pentathlon points are awarded for a time of 12.30 minutes.  Each second faster or slower than the prescribed time is worth +/-4 points.

The combined event is also included in relay competitions in teams of 2 or 3 pentathletes. However, the format differs slightly in that only 2 series of the course are repeated (5 Targets down (time limit 1’10” 1’30”for youth); 800m run; 5 Targets down (time limit 1’10” 1’30”for youth); 800m run) for each of the pentathletes. For team of 3 athletes, 2000 points are awarded for a time 25.00 minutes. Each second faster or slower than the prescribed time is worth +/-4 points. For team of 2 athletes, 2000 points are awarded for a time 17.00 minutes. Each second faster or slower than the prescribed time is worth +/-4 points.

Within the combined event the shooting takes place with an completely safe and environmentally friendly laser pistol, fired at a target from a distance of 10 metres. The Shooting competition is in 4 series; each series consists of hitting 5 targets with an unlimited number of shots in a maximum time of 1’10” 1’30” for youth on a target of dimension 59.5mm. If after 1’10” one 1’30” for youth or more targets have not been hit, the pentathlete can start on the running leg without being penalised. Only after having hit 5 targets using an unlimited number of shots in the time limit of 1’10”, 1’30” for youth can the pentathlete start from the shooting station to perform the first running leg of 800m. After the first leg, the pentathletes return to their shooting stations, where they must reset their target, (only the pentathlete is authorised to reset their target) and then start the second shooting series that consists of hitting 5 targets using a unlimited number of shots but in the time limit of 1’10” 1’30” for youth. The pentathlete repeats the same procedure for the second shooting series and second running leg of 800m. After the fourth shooting series the pentathletes perform the fourth and final running leg of 800m to the finish line.

The combined event uses electronic targets which consist of one black single aim and 5 green/red lamps indicators.