Elite biathlonist's shooting skills excelling method

Elite biathlonist's shooting skills excelling method

ˑ: 

PhD, Associate Professor E.N. Filippova
Mordovia State Pedagogical Institute named after M.E. Evsevev, Saransk

Keywords: elite biathlete, shooting skills, special shooting practices

Background. Biathlon is a specific sport that requires versatile skills being developed by the athlete for success in ski races and shooting from a small bore rifle in static positions on the shooting lane. These two types of muscular activity are largely different in the movement structures, energy supply patterns, timeframes and impacts; and highly demanding to performance of different body systems. One of the missions of a biathlon training system is to help an athlete master fast and accurate shooting skills, and this is the prime reason for the due emphasis on the most efficient training tools and methods being found and applied to improve the biathlon education and training process in the shooting quality aspects [3].

Integrated fitness of a biathlete is determined by the training process components including: resultant scores on the shooting round (including misses and penalty time) indicative of the functional and shooting fitness; split times of shooting actions (including shooting range entering and leaving time, position taking time and shooting time); rifle holding at the ready, aiming and trigger pulling techniques; and athlete’s specific fitness rates (including shooting accuracy and stability under growing fatigue) [1].

Shooting fitness may be described as basically including the following three components: shooting accuracy; aiming and trigger pulling techniques; and the positioning for shooting (ideally dynamic and precise). It should be noted that a shooting bout normally contributes around one fourth to the overall competitive success. Knowing that, one can see that it is the skiing component that largely contributes to the biathlete’s competitive accomplishments and, consequently, to his/ her sport ranking [2].

Objective of the study was to help improve the shooting fitness as an important part of the competitive and technical performance of elite biathletes.

Methodology and structure of the study. Subject to the study was a study group of five 24-26 years-old biathletes formally qualified at least Masters of Sport. The educational experiment was designed to rate the athlete’s competitive performance for the relevant competitive periods and obtain the key performance rates variation data versus the training load volumes and intensities in the pre-season periods, with the growing contribution of special shooting practices (SSP) in the training process.

The training process included 8-10 necessary education and training sessions per week for every biathlete, with the only exclusion for April, May and June training cycles when the load volumes and intensities were reduced to 5-6 training sessions per week. From mid-December, the subject biathletes were engaged in the high-ranking multistage (5 stages) events under the Russian Cup with the regular season coming to an end by early April. Having analyzed the training system, we offered a methodology to improve the biathletes’ shooting performance based on the special shooting practice (SSP) efficiency  rating analyses in the elite biathletes’ education and training process (see Table 1).

Table 1. Special shooting practices (SSP) applied in the elite biathletes’ education and training process

Special shooting practices

Rifle holding at the ready in the standing and prone positions with/ without timekeeping

Rifle taking on/ off action excelling practices at rest and following physical loads other than a shooting practice

Non-loaded rifle fixing practices, with an emphasis on the right coming to the ready, aiming and trigger pressing movement sequences, head position and breathing pattern

Prone-position aiming practice with the rifle take-off. The training task is to keep the weapon aimed at the target without trigger action as long as possible to fatigue

Shooting at target #7 with the goal of hitting 9 or 8 circles

Shooting and 8cm, 10cm and 12cm targets with the goal to improve the shots grouping pattern

Shooting in a standing position with different rifle getting at the ready patterns

Shooting in different heart rate modes with/ without time limitations

Competitive shooting

The SSP application efficiency in the elite biathletes’ education and training process was rated by a comparative study of the competitive performance records for the relevant two competitive cycles. It was found that the special shooting practices made the shooting training process of the biathletes more versatile, albeit the total time of the practices stayed unchanged (612 hours). Timeframes of the target shooting cycles in static positions and in the combined training process did not change too (104 and 300 hours, respectively), and only the blank training time was cut down to 140 hours to give space of 68 hours to the SSP. Most of the time was used in the pre-season period; and the total number of shots for the period and for the year on the whole was increased by 500 as compared to the last year – from 7.5 thousand to 8 thousand shots (see Table 2).

Table 2. Special shooting and combined training load variations in elite biathletes’ training in regular season (hours)

Training tools

Months

Total

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

X

XI

XII

I

II

III

IV

SSP

10

8

8

8

8

8

2

2

2

2

2

8

68

Blank shooting practice

16

16

16

16

16

14

8

6

6

6

6

14

140

Shooting in static positions

16

16

10

10

10

10

4

4

4

4

4

12

104

Combined training

20

24

28

28

28

26

34

34

34

30

14

300

TOTAL:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

612

In the last pre-season cycle, the athletes mostly applied blank shooting practices (208 hours); shooting in static standing/ prone positions (104 hours); plus shooting bouts in the combined training sessions (300 hours) of varied intensities depending on the micro-cycle goals. In our study, we applied the summarized competitive accomplishments (standings) of the subject biathletes in 6 events (only sprint and pursuit) to rate their competitive performance data for the relevant competitive periods.

Study results and discussion. The study data analyses gave the reasons to conclude that the increased proportion of the SSP in the training process resulted in the misses and accurate shots being cut down and increased, respectively, with the total competitive accomplishments (standings, i.e. places won) showing the rise for the regular season.

Special emphasis was made on the special shooting practices throughout the pre-season. At the early stage of the period (May to June), the shooting practices were dominated by the load-free exercises. It is the blank training and shooting in static standing/ prone positions that were the core practices applied in this phase. Most of the training time was assigned to the practices designed to improve some specific elements of the shooting sequence including: rifle holding at the ready and aiming actions, trigger pulling action and shot as such. These practices took up to 2 hours per session being run 2-3 times per week. The competitive performance data for two competitive periods included the total standings (places won) and misses as per the records of the events (see Figure 1 hereunder).

Figure 1. Total standings (places won) by the biathletes and missed shots in two seasons

The competitive performance rates for the experimental regular season showed progress of the biathletes as compared to the last season. Every subject biathlete was found to have improved the shooting performance rates as verified by the total standings and statistics of the missed shots.

Conclusion. The frame cyclic training loads found by the study may be applied as a basis for the elite biathletes’ preparatory training system designs. The shooting performance rates obtained by the educational experiment may be recommended as guiding vaules for elite biathletes. Special shooting practices (SSP) in the education and training process designed to improve the holding-at-ready and shooting techniques make it possible, as demonstrated by the study findings, to step up the training effect with the same loads in the shooting and physical practices over the annual cycle in the elite biathletes’ training process. This finding is supported by the comparative analysis of the competitive performance data for two competitive periods that showed a notable progress in the competitive accomplishments (with the total individual standings improved from 154 to 123) and shooting accuracy (as verified by the average misses coming down from 18 to 15).

The training systems need to take into account the individual traits of the trainees to ensure further competitive progress of elite biathletes. As far as skiing fitness is concerned, we would recommend stepping up the endurance training in the pre-season and increasing the timeframe of the loads in the mixed and anaerobic energy supply zones. To improve shooting accuracy and stability, we recommend the shooting technique being improved by the set of special shooting practices outlined herein with up to 10 thousand training shots being made per year, and with the numbers of shot being increased in the combined trainings during the competitive cycles run at sub-competitive, competitive and super-competitive speeds.

The study was performed with support from the Ministry of Education and Science of the RF under the “Educational Personnel for Innovative Russia” Strategic Development Program

References

  1. Zubrilov R.A. Strelkovaya podgotovka biatlonista: ucheb. posobie (Shooting training biathlete: study guide) / R.A. Zubrilov. – Kiev: Olimpiyskaya literatura, 2010. – 296 p.
  2. Kaminskiy Yu.M. Usloviya povysheniya rabotosposobnosti lyzhnikov-sprinterov v sorevnovatel'noy deyatel'nosti (Conditions for improvement of sprint skiers' performance in competitive activities) / Yu.M. Kaminskiy // Gumanitarnye nauki i obrazovanie (Humanities and Education). – 2014. – № 1. – P. 28–32.
  3. Moskalenko V.A. O sovershenstvovanii metodiki podgotovki vysokokvalifitsirovannykh biatlonistov (Improvement of training procedure in elite biathlon) / V.A. Moskalenko // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kultury. – 2011. – № 8. – P. 35–37.

Corresponding author: lenafilippova2014@yandex.ru

Abstract
Analysis of the modern trends in the elite biathlon training system designs shows that the training and competitive process missions will be fulfilled within the frame of a prudently designed education and training process with due consideration for the fact that the performance improving work in one competi-tive exercise (shooting) is always limited by actual motor skills and performance rates in another competi-tive exercise (that is skiing). Competitive progress in modern biathlon largely depends on the following key factors: ski racing skills; due shooting speed; good timing in a shooting bout; and high accuracy of shots. The high priority given by modern biathlon to the fast and accurate shooting skills dictates the sport studies and theoretical models being focused on the performance rates of the athletes on the shooting line being improved and on the efforts to find an optimal balance of the shooting skills excelling practices over a annual training cycle. The article presents findings of the study and offers a special shooting skills building system that proved efficient in the elite biathletes’ training process.