Introduction: Several researchers have reported the importance of maintaining a longer final fixation on the target (termed the quiet eye period, QE) before performing an aiming task. We present an innovative, perceptual training intervention intended to improve the efficiency of gaze behavior (i.e., QE) in shotgun shooting.
Methods: A sample of 20 international-level skeet shooters were assigned equally to one of two ability-matched groups based on their pretest shooting scores. A perceptual training group participated in a four-step preshot routine alongside three video feedback sessions involving their own gaze behaviors and those of an expert model in an effort to positively influence QE behaviors. A control group received video feedback of performance but without the addition of feedback on QE behaviors. Participants completed pretests and posttests along with an 8-wk training intervention.
Results: Subjects of the perceptual training group significantly increased their mean QE duration (397 vs 423 ms), used an earlier onset of QE (257 vs 244 ms), and recorded higher shooting accuracy scores (62 vs 70%) from pretest to posttest. Participants in the perceptual training group significantly reduced gun barrel displacement and absolute peak velocity on the posttest compared with the pretest, although neither variable was overtly trained. A transfer test based on performance during competition indicated that perceptual training significantly improved shooting accuracy from before to after the intervention. No pretest to posttest differences were observed for the control group on the measures reported.
Conclusions: The results demonstrate the effectiveness of QE training in improving shooting accuracy and developing a more efficient visuomotor control strategy.The findings have implications for future research on training visuomotor behaviors, attention, and gaze orientation during the performance of aiming tasks.