Cardiovascular & Shooting Performance

Excessive aerobic demands can decrease both physical and psychological performance. However, to our knowledge, the specific effects of cardiovascular load on shooting performance and cognitive function during tactical scenarios have not been fully studied, especially not on an individual basis. We propose a series of experiments to begin to quantify these relationships. The first will directly address the correlation between cardiovascular demands and shooting accuracy in experienced shooters. Two to three hours after a light breakfast, participants will come to a climate-controlled, indoor environment where they will begin a ramp test on an indoor cycle ergo meter. Males will begin at 75 watts and females at 50 watts, increasing 25 watts/min until voluntary exhaustion at which time individual maximum heart rate (HRmax) will be recorded. At 1-minute intervals, participants will be asked to shoot at a simulated target using a laser sighting system and gas-charged recoil at a distance of six meters. The initial use of a simulation environment rather than a live-fire exercise will maintain safety as shooting performance and overall motor function declines with fatigue. A cumulative score from each shooting exercise will be calculated and stored relative to %HRmax. Subsequently, we will quantify the affects of %HRmax on shooting accuracy using repeated-measures Pearson correlation.Future experiments are planned using this same basic protocol, eventually using different physiological measurements and outcomes. We would like to use metabolic gas exchange to quantify outcomes based on %VO2max. In addition, our simulation environment can allow us to measure performance relative to different tasks including verbal commands, multi-agent threats, and other high stress environments. Eventually, this information will be used not only to inform, but create interventions based on specific physical training to ultimately improve outcomes. As always, this knowledge will be shared with clients and industry partners.