Introduction: No literature exists to document skill-related differences in shotgun shooting and whether these may be a function of eye movements and control of gun motion. We therefore conducted an exploratory investigation of the visual search behaviors and gun barrel kinematics used by elite and subelite shooters across the three shotgun shooting subdisciplines.
Methods: Point of gaze and gun barrel kinematics were recorded in groups of elite (n = 24) and subelite (n = 24) shooters participating in skeet, trap, and double trap events. Point of gaze was calculated in relation to the scene, while motion of the gun was captured by two stationary external cameras. Quiet eye (final fixation or tracking gaze that is located on a specific location/object in the visual display for a minimum of 100 ms) duration and onset were analyzed as well as gun motion profiles in the horizontal and vertical planes.
Results: In skeet, trap, and double trap disciplines, elite shooters demonstrated both an earlier onset and a longer relative duration of quiet eye than their subelite counterparts did. Also, in all three disciplines, quiet eye duration was longer and onset earlier during successful compared with unsuccessful trials for elite and subelite shooters. Kinematic analyses indicated that a slower movement of the gun barrel was used by elite compared with subelite shooters.
Conclusions: Overall, stable gun motion and a longer quiet eye duration seem critical to a successful performance in all three shotgun disciplines.