The relationship between visual function and performance in rifle shooting for athletes with vision impairment

Joy Myint, Keziah Latham, David Mann, Phil Gomersall, Arnold J. Wilkins, Peter M. Allen

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Abstract

Background Paralympic sports provide opportunities for those who have an impairment that might otherwise be a barrier to participation in regular sporting competition. Rifle shooting represents an ideal sport for persons with vision impairment (VI) because the direction of the rifle can be guided by auditory information when vision is impaired. However, it is unknown whether those with some remaining vision when shooting with auditory guidance would be at an advantage when compared with those with no vision at all. If this were the case then it would be necessary for those with and without remaining vision to compete in separate classes of competition.
Materials and method The associations between shooting performance and 3 measures of visual function thought important for shooting were assessed for 10 elite VI shooters currently classified as VI. A conventional audiogram was also obtained.
Results The sample size, though small, included the majority of European VI shooters competing at this level. The relationships between visual functions and performance confirmed that individuals with residual vision had no advantage over those without vision when auditory guidance was available. Auditory function was within normal limits for age, and showed no relationship with performance.
Summary The findings suggest that rifle-shooting athletes with VI are able to use auditory information to overcome their impairment and optimise performance. Paralympic competition should be structured in a way that ensures that all shooters who qualify to compete in VI shooting participate within the same class irrespective of their level of VI.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2016

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