The Effect of Acute Exercise on Pistol Shooting Performance of Police Officers

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Melissa J. Brown
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Richard D. Tandy
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Gabriele Wulf
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John C. Young
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Previous studies indicate that rifle shooting performance while standing is compromised when fatigued. Apprehension of suspects by police officers may involve foot pursuit and firing a weapon from a standing position. The purpose of the current study was to investigate pistol shooting performance in police officers under similar conditions of physical fatigue. Participants (mean age: 30.1 years; 4.4 years of experience as police officer) completed two shooting trials separated by an acute bout of exercise on a cycle ergometer to voluntary exhaustion. Each trial consisted of three rounds of five rapid-fire shots at a target, each round separated by a 15-s rest. Participants’ backs were turned to the target between rounds. Despite physical exertion, with an average heart rate of 164 bpm, shooting accuracy (mean distance of the closest 4 shots from the center of the target) and precision (diameter of the tightest 4-shot grouping) remained unchanged on postexercise trials relative to preexercise trials. This suggests that automatic shooting reactions override the adverse consequences of fatiguing exercise on shooting performance.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology & Nutrition Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV.

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