Study: Energy Drinks Can Help Maintain Marksmanship Performance

(LINK TO FULL STUDY:  MTI Energy Drink and Marksmanship Study)

By Adam Scott, MS, CSCS

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a popular energy drink (Monster Zero Ultra) on non-stressed and stressed marksmanship. 

Fifteen full-time members of a state law enforcement (LE) tactical unit (age 29-43 years) were randomly divided into three treatment groups.  All three groups completing a series of 24 baseline marksmanship drills.  These drills were divided into two categories: 1. Non-stressed (Video Link) and 2. Stressed (Video Link).  Each trial consisted of one magazine of 5 rounds (5.56mm).  Subjects fired a total of 60 rounds during non-stressed baseline trials and 60 rounds during baseline stressed trials (120 total rounds). 

After establishing their baselines, subjects received the first of two treatments.  Treatments consisted of either a 16oz Energy Drink or a 16oz placebo.  A total of 8 non-stressed trials and 8 stressed drills were completed during the proceeding hour (approximately 2 trials every 15 minutes).  After 60 minutes the second treatment was administered.  Again, 8 non-stressed and 8 stressed trials were completed during the proceeding hour.  Group 1 received two placebo treatments (PP). Group 2 received one placebo treatment and one energy drink treatment (EP).  Group 3 received two energy drink treatments (EE).  All subjects were blind to their treatments.

During all drills (baseline and treatment) Heart rate (HR) data and marksmanship accuracy was tracked for each subject.

Non-Stressed Marksmanship

  • The single energy drink group (EP) was, by far, the best performing group.  They performed above their baseline during every measured time period (with a peak at +12.5% during minutes 31-60).
  • The two energy drink group (EE), significantly out performed the control group, but still finished at 3.6% below their baseline performance.
  • The control group (PP) was the lowest performing group, with a decrease of 12.0% below baseline.

Stressed Marksmanship

  • This single energy drink group (EP) and the double energy drink group (EE) both significantly out-performed the placebo group during the first hour of the study (0-60 minutes ).
  • However, by the end of study all three groups (PP, EP, EE) significantly improved over baseline.  This was likely, partially attributable to an increased familiarity with the stressed drill. 

Heart Rates

  • Energy drinks had no significant impact on subject’s heart rates and heart rate variation within the drills was not significantly correlated to marksmanship performance.

In healthy tactical professionals, one no-calorie energy drink (similar to a Monster Zero Ultra), consumed approximately 30-60 minutes prior to marksmanship training can effectively be used to counteract some of the negative effects experienced during short (60 minutes) and long-term (>120 minutes) non-stressed and stressed drills.

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