To identify biomechanical predictors that distinguish between high- and low-score athletes in biathlon shooting and to determine the relationships among these variables in field testing.
Twenty-two biathletes (8 female, 14 male) from the World Cup, the European Cup, and a federal youth squad each fired 3 clips of 5 shots in prone and standing shooting positions without physical load, followed by 2 respective series in both disciplines during a simulated 12.5-km pursuit race on roller skis. Biomechanical variables describing triggering, rifle force in the back shoulder, and body and rifle sway were calculated over the last 0.5 second before firing. For computed linear discriminant analyses, subjects were divided into high- and low-level performers based on mean scores for each condition separately. In addition, correlations among all biomechanical factors were calculated.
Regarding prone shooting, shoulder force in the rest condition and vertical rifle sway in the race simulation were shown to be main discriminators. Several body- and rifle-sway variables were found to be predictors in standing rest shooting. Body sway across the shooting line discriminated the groups in the standing race situation tendentially. Thus, the main performance predictors changed due to fatigue. Correlations between triggering and rifle sway, shoulder force and rifle sway, and body sway and rifle sway were discovered.
Referring to the current results, athletes are recommended to focus on vertical rifle sway in prone position and on body sway across the shooting line during standing shooting when fatigued.
The authors are with the Dept of Sport Science and Kinesiology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria.