Physiology and Fitness

Physiology and Fitness

The methodology behind The Tactical Games is rooted in finding the best balance between fitness, shooting skills, and stress management. In short, we provide you with the atmosphere to drive your pulse and respiration rate as high as possible, until an obvious degradation in abilities separates the winners from the losers.

The premise lies in the fact that a person at a given skill level can perform at task at rest, to a certain level of competence. As you add stress to the equation, the person’s ability to perform is decreased. As the stress level increases, the degradation in skill increases, and at the extreme end, skills degrade exponentially.

While at rest, an athlete maintains 100% control of both their fine and gross motor skills. There is a sweet spot in the heart rate continuum where a person is performing at their best. Depending on their level of fitness, that “sweet spot” can be at various pulse rates and respiration rates. Obviously, the higher the level of fitness, the higher the level of activity can be supported at a given heart rate. So, the more fit a person is, the longer they will maintain a skill set, and degradation occurs later, providing them with the ability to function at a higher level, longer.

Let’s put this into terms we can understand.

We have two athletes, one is an elite level athlete and the other is a intermediate level athlete. Both people have had the same exact training regimen, and both retain the exact same shooting abilities. (That is possible for our explanation today) So, given all other things being equal, the only difference between the two athletes is their fitness level.

Athlete #1

Athlete 1, the elite level athlete is asked to perform a Tactical Games event that requires him/her to shoot a target at 200 yards with a rifle. At rest, with a resting heartrate of 52 beats per minute (BPM) the elite athlete can engage the target accurately every 3 seconds. As this athletes’ heart rate climbs due to the exercise involved with the event, his fine motor control begins to deteriorate. As his heart rate climbs through 80 to approximately 110, he will function at his peak. His muscles are well fed with oxygen and he is able to continue to accurately engage a target at distance.

As his heart rate climbs through 130 BPM, his fine motor skill begins to deteriorate in a noticeable way. He can no longer hold the weapon steady for the period of time required to accurately engage the target, and he must adjust his strategy to “ambushing the target” through the uncontrolled movement brought on by physical exertion.

As the Athlete’s heart rate passes through 140 BPM and into 150 and even 160 BPM, significant degradation is noticed in the athlete’s performance. He can no longer hold the weapon steady to make shots, his hands and arm muscles are trembling, and the added movement from breathing compounds the difficulty of shooting. Most people cannot sustain a heart rate of 160 BPM for very long without building up lactic acid and becoming sick.

Athlete #2

Athlete #2 is also a great shooter, very well trained, but not quite as strong an athlete as athlete #1. Athlete #2 will have a performance profile that looks different that Athlete #1. Let’s take a look at her performance.

Both athletes started with the same weight, same equipment, same amount of rest, basically….all circumstances are exactly the same, except Athlete #1 is in far better physical condition that Athlete #2.

When Athlete #2 begins the exercise, we will see her heart rate elevate much more quickly than Athlete #1. Athlete #2 will pass into the comfort zone of 80-110 BPM more quickly, but will also pass through that zone and into higher heart rates much more quickly, due to the lack of conditioning.

This translates into Athlete #2 achieving a heart rate of 140-160 BPM faster, with the associated affect of a faster degradation in motor skills. If it took Athlete #1 8 minutes to achieve a heart rate of 160 BPM, Athlete #2 achieves a heartrate of 160 BPM in 3.5 minutes. This means that Athlete #2 saw a degradation of performance nearly twice as fast as Athlete #1.

Athlete #2 experienced shaking hands, loss of tactile sense in her fingers and hands, and saw far more movement in the weapon system only 3.5 minutes into the exercise, while Athlete #1 didn’t see these affects until 8 minutes into the exercise. This gave Athlete #1, 4.5 minutes longer at a higher performance level than Athlete #2. When precision matters, when fine motor skills make a difference, and when thought processes provide the basis for successfully completing a series of tasks, the person who is in far better shape will be able to out perform another person, based on fitness level. Again, this is assuming there are no factors involved that weigh in the favor of one or the other, except fitness.

The Opposite Side of the Race           

The opposite scenario is one where we have two athletes, who are equal physically, but differ greatly in skill sets. You may have an athlete who is extremely fit, but has never had proper training or maybe has only had rudimentary training in the use of firearms. In this scenario, I don’t care how fit a person is, if they do not have the technical skill and capacity to perform or complete the desired task, they will not succeed. The requisite skill sets must be in place in order to achieve the desired result.

I will catch a lot of flack over this next statement, and I will be accused of being insensitive or rude. But I am scientifically making this comment. I have watched a 3-Gun match where competitors were asked to perform a series of tasks lasting a period of time, let’s say 90 seconds to 2.5 minutes, at most. In the specific event that I watched, the guy who won the event was fat. He could shoot a gun, no doubt about that. Standing static, on a firing line, on a range, in a controlled environment, he would probably beat me in a speed shoot. I won’t argue that. And I am not assigning worth to the person based on their weight, I am simply making an observation. The guy I am describing won the event, but let’s be honest, he can only win in a specific environment that doesn’t require him to move much, and doesn’t require him to move for very long. Had the events lasted longer, required him to run, carry weight, or expend some physical energy…….basically, elevate his heart rate, he would have placed near the bottom of the score card. That’s the bare truth. Not being mean, it is just reality.

Since I designed The Tactical Games around tactical athletes, the implication is clear; our competitors should be technically and tactically proficient. They should be fit, and they should know their way around a gun! While we welcome people from the 3-Gun community, many of those people who win in those competitions won’t even finish our events.

So Why The Tactical Games?

Crossfit meets combat is the theme of the Games. In our attempt to replicate the stresses of a combat situation; to elevate the heartrate, to increase respirations, etc. We cannot shoot at you, we cannot keep you awake for 52 hours, and we cannot re-create the perceived dangers of combat. So, we do the next best thing and elevate heartrate and respirations and add stress to the competitor through physical exertion and by putting them “on the clock”.

In the final analysis, fat guys and fat gals are welcome to compete. Everyone starts somewhere, and we will welcome anyone who is safe with a firearm. But “who will win the games?” is the question. Here is my definition:

“The person who will win The Tactical Games will be that person who has a fitness level high enough to push themselves to perform in spite of the lactic acid threshold, to a heartrate of 150 BPM or more, and self-regulate their thoughts, breathing, and fine motor skills enough to deliver accurate shots on target faster than their competitors.”

Tim Burke,
Founder of the The Tactical Games

As of this writing, there are 50 days remaining until The Tactical Games event in Ardmore, TN. Don’t miss this amazing history-making event. The Tactical Athlete Games ARE the ultimate adventure sport!


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