Moving target shooter’s attention control analysis

PhD, Associate Professor L.A. Kadutskaya1
PhD A.V. Posokhov1
PhD T.A. Mironova1
PhD student E.Yu. Domracheva1
1Belgorod State National Research University, Belgorod

Keywords: attention switchover, mental fitness, moving target, athlete, shooter, mental self-control, rifle shooting sport.

Background. Shooting sport requires high mastery in standard sequences of psychomotor actions that may be described as the combined dynamic process where the individual techniques and motor skills cannot always be easily separated for analysis [1, 6, 5]. Modern shooting sport is increasingly demanding to the shooter’s mental control qualities including the attention control ones for success. The attention controls shall be perfect to timely focus the body and mind and mobilize the physical and technical resources to fast switch over attention when necessary for success in the shooting.

Objective of the study was to analyze the attention control skills in elite moving target shooters.

Methods and structure of the study. Sampled for the study were elite shooters (n=12) of different qualifications (Candidate/ World Class/ Honored Masters of Sport and Masters of Sport). The attention control skills were tested by the Burdon/ Anfimov tables; and the attention switching qualities tested by the digital Schulte tables [4].

Results and discussion. Given in Table 1 hereunder the attention control and switching rates of the sample.

Table 1. Attention control and switching rates of the sample versus the skill classes

Class

К

А

Е

N

Attention switching (s)

HMS

96,4*

0,98*

1258*

1288*

68,5*

WCMS

97,2*

0,98*

1174*

1220*

73*

MS

93,7

0,963

1199

1221

84,5

CMS

93,3

0,97

1135

1159

98,3

 

Note: *р<0.05; К – attention control ratio, %; А – accuracy ratio, points; Е – efficiency ratio (characters read); N – total characters in the test; HMS/ WCMS/ CMS – Honored/ World Class/ Candidate Master of Sport, MS – Master of Sport

The HMS were tested with the highest attention control and accuracy rates of 96.4% and 0.98 points, respectively, and high efficiency ratio of 1258 points  – probably due to the longer elite competitive experiences, special emphasis on the performance quality and high costs of errors in the elite competitions. High mastery of that kind is critical in the moving target shooting with the shooting time limited by 2.5s and 5s in the fast and slow run events, respectively. There is no way for the shooter to relax or have another try, and that is why the attention should be highly focused and controlled for success. Furthermore, the WCMS were tested with the higher attention control skills (97.2%) than the HMS – that may be due to the fact that the WCMS [3] need to not only focus the attention but also control (distribute and switching) it to effectively spot the rising target, lift the gun, zero in on the target and shoot. It is not unusual, therefore, that the WCMS were tested also with the high attention accuracy rate of 0.98 points – probably disciplined by the strict rules of the national and international competitions. The MS were tested lower than the WCMS and HMS on the attention control (93.7%) and accuracy (0.963 points) scales – probably due to their skills being still in progress with the extra efforts needed to focus attention on the target when it is partially claimed by the technical performance aspects.

The CMS subsample were tested with the lowest attention control rates (93.3%) with the attention accuracy rates still being quite competitive with the higher classes. This finding may be explained by their skills being still in progress on the way to the top mastery and competitive successes. They work hard to improve their shooting techniques and performance standards and, hence, are still imperfect and unconfident in some aspects.

Having compared the attention control skills versus the skill classes, we found the WCMS moving target shooters better focusing their attention than the HMS (97.2% versus 96.4%, respectively) – that may be due to their higher competitive success motivations. Generally the WCMS are more focused and accurate in shooting than the other classes, particularly the CMS and MS.

Accurate shot requires the attention being precisely switched from the zeroing in to the trigger pulling moment, with the HMS tested highest on the relevant scale (68.5s). It may be due to the fact that these athletes specially train the attention switching in the trigger pull moment, with a precise control of the body position, wrist pressure on the handle, muscular tonus, movement smoothness etc. [7].

The attention switching rate in the WCMS was estimated at optimal 73s indicative of the high attention focusing qualities. The top-class athletes are known to develop stable CNS reflexes to facilitate the attention switching from zeroing in to the index finger movement in a semiautomatic stereotyped manner [2]. The attention switching rate was estimated at 84.5s, 98.3s and 68.5s in the MS, CMS and HMS, respectively – that means that the top-class shooters develop the highest attention switching skills at reasonable sacrifice of the attention focusing and accuracy aspects.

Conclusion. Our study has found that the modern moving target shooting sport is increasingly demanding to the shooter’s mental control qualities including the attention control ones. The attention controls shall be perfect to timely focus the body and mind and fast switch attention when necessary for success in the shooting competitions, with these qualities tested the highest in the World Class/ Honored Masters of Sport. The top-class shooters need to be able to maintain, for a fairly long time in competitions, high attention controls under serious mental stressors. High attention switching qualities were also tested in the top-class shooters albeit the switching skills are known to conflict with the attention focusing ones due to the first being contributed by the volatile inhibition and excitation processes and the second requiring certain inertness.

It was found that the attention control qualities and skills are largely predetermined by the individual genetic type and, hence, it may be difficult in modifying to develop an optimal balance of the attention focusing and switching qualities. On the whole the study tested the World Class/ Honorary Masters of Sport with the highest attention focusing and switching rates in shooting a moving target. This finding may be interpreted as indicative of the long-term training process making it possible to improve to a degree the attention control skills.

References

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Corresponding author: nikulin_i@bsu.edu.ru

Abstract

Shooting a moving target may be described as the standard sequence of psychomotor actions. The beginner shooter training systems give a special priority to the attention control skills to effectively respond to and control the sport-specific sensations and data flows. Our study has found that the modern moving target shooting sport is increasingly demanding to the shooter’s mental control qualities including the attention control ones. The attention controls shall be perfect to timely focus the body and mind and fast switching attention skills when necessary for success in the shooting competitions. We obtained and analyzed the attention control test rates including the attention focusing, accuracy, success and attention switching rates versus the shooters’ skills levels (Candidate/ World Class/ Honored Masters of Sport). It was found that the attention control qualities and skills are largely predetermined by the individual genetic type and, hence, it may be difficult in modifying to develop an optimal balance of the attention focusing and switching qualities. On the whole the study tested the World Class/ Honorary Masters of Sport with the highest attention focusing and switching rates in shooting a moving target. This finding may be interpreted as indicative of the long-term training process making it possible to improve to a degree the attention control skills.