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The effects of caffeine on marksmanship accuracy and reaction time: a systematic review

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Military and law enforcement personnel are required to maintain optimal marksman accuracy and reaction time during extended duty hours amidst environmental stressors. Although caffeine is commonly used to mitigate the consequences of fatigue, the effects of caffeine on marksmanship accuracy are inconclusive. The purpose of this review was to determine the effect of caffeine on marksman accuracy and reaction time. A literature search was conducted and 17 articles were selected for review based on relevance and methodological quality. Caffeine consistently improved marksman reaction time but did not improve marksmanship accuracy. However, there is some evidence that caffeine attenuates performance decrements in marksman accuracy caused by stress and fatigue if optimal dosing strategies are employed. Dosing strategies timed according to hours of wakefulness and time before testing could prevent performance deterioration. Doses of 100–200 mg every 2 hours may effectively improve accuracy during extended duty; however, further research is needed.

Practitioner Summary: The purpose of this review was to determine the effect of caffeine on marksman accuracy and reaction time. A literature search was conducted and 17 articles were selected for review based on relevance and methodological quality. Caffeine consistently improved marksman reaction time but did not improve marksmanship accuracy.
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Keywords: Marksmanship; caffeine; military performance; shooting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Nutrition, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI, 48859, USA

Publication date: August 3, 2019

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