About British Pentathlon

Modern Pentathlon Events

Pistol Shooting

Shooting is with any 4.5mm (.177") calibre compressed air or CO2 pistol. These are used to fire 10 or 20 shots, depending on age, at a standing target 155mm in diameter at a range of 10 metres. The target is made up of concentric rings scoring one point on the outside to 10 points for a bulls-eye. Athletes have 40 seconds to fire each shot. Youth E, D & C competitors may have a loader.

Youth E, & D competitors may shoot two handed. See the Getting Started page for information about competition age groups. Youth E, D, C and Masters athletes shoot a 10 shot competition needing 86 target points to score 1,000 pentathlon points. For all other age groups a score of 172 out of a possible 200 is worth 1,000 Pentathlon points. Every target point above or below 172 is worth plus or minus 12 Pentathlon points.

There are strict safety rules which must be observed at all competitions involving the shooting discipline and competitors should make themselves familiar with the rules, which are available for download here.


Fencing is the only discipline where the other competitors can influence an athletes score. Athletes fence every other competitor with epee swords for one hit within a time limit of one minute. Depending on the numbers of competitors this may be increased to two hits. If a hit is not scored within the time, both competitors register a defeat. The target area is the whole body and hits are registered via an electronic tip at the end of the epee. A total score of 70% victories equals 1,000 points.

The value of each hit is set out in the rules and varies depending on the number of competitors. Typically it is about 28 points but the following table gives two examples;

Number of fencers Number of bouts Number of bouts for 1000 points Value of each bout above or below
32 31 22 +/- 28
61 60 42 +/- 16

The swimming event is a free-style race, with athletes seeded in heats according to their personal best time. The distance and time to earn 1000 Pentathlon Points depends on age. The swim distances and target times for the various age groups is shown below.

Every 0.33 of second above or below this time is equal to plus or minus four points, thus the value of each swimming second is worth 12 points.

Category Male Female
Distance(m) Time for 1000pts Distance(m) Time for 1000pts
Youth E 50 0:40.00 50 0:40.00
Youth D 100 1:20.00 100 1:20.00
Youth C 100 1:14.00 100 1:20.00
Youth B 200 2:30.00 200 2:40.00
Youth A 200 2:30.00 200 2:40.00
Junior 200 2:30.00 200 2:40.00
Senior 200 2:30.00 200 2:40.00
Masters 100 1:30.00 100 1:40.00


The riding discipline of Modern Pentathlon is intended to be a test of horsemanship. Athletes ride unfamiliar horses over show-jumping obstacles of up to 120 cm in height and 150 cm in spread including one double and one triple. The height of the fences depends on the age of the competitors and local competitions may vary the number of obstacles. The track is between 350-450 metres in length. Athletes pick their horses by lot and have 20 minutes and five practice fences for warm-up.

Competitors start with 1,200 points and lose 28 points for knockdowns, 40 points for refusal or disobedience to jump, 40 points for falling off and 4 points per second for being over the standard time. If the round takes longer than double the standard time (for instance 2 min. 18 sec. for a 400 m course) the competitor is eliminated and scores zero points.


The run can be completed on any type of surface and may be one or more laps. The course should be clearly marked with flags and the maximum climb of the course should be 50m.

Starts are usually mass starts although for Pentathlon competitions a handicapped start may be used. Here, the competitor in the lead after four events starts the run first. All other competitors' start times are calculated based on the number of points they trail the leader after four events and the points per second allowed for their age and distance. The distances and target times for 1,000 pentathlon points for the various age groups is shown below.

For Masters Men, Senior Men & Women, Junior Men & Women, Youth A & B athletes every second above or below this standard will gain or lose 4 points.

The points per second for the Masters women and the younger age groups is +/- 8 points.

Category Male Female
Distance(m) Time for 1000pts Distance(m) Time for 1000pts
Youth E 1000 3:10.00 1000 3:40.00
Youth D 1000 3:10.00 1000 3:40.00
Youth C 1000 3:10.00 1000 3:40.00
Youth B 2000 6:40.00 2000 7:40.00
Youth A 3000 10:00.00 3000 11:20.00
Junior 3000 10:00.00 3000 11:20.00
Senior 3000 10:00.00 3000 11:20.00
Masters 2000 7:40.00 1000 4:00.00

Club competitons may run events with 'local' rules where distances and points may vary slightly from these.



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