Effects of beta blockers on fine motor performance in archery
According to the consultation process by WADA on 2012 Prohibited List, World Archery reevaluated the removal of beta blockers, as it is always a major concern regarding TUEs over decades. A study has been carried out many years ago for pistol shooting which has shown the effect to be existing, which is why the substance ended on the prohibited list. It was taken granted that the use of beta blockers would affect archery performance and was added to the list.
However, no scientific research was carried out on archers concerning the effects of beta blockers. On the other hand, there has been an enormous development especially in the field of Beta-blockers. The so called cardioselective Beta-blockers (means there is only effect on heart activity) are widely used and may keep archery open to a great number of archers throughout the world. This would be one of the issues to test during such Beta Blockers-project and also illustrates the challenge since how do we differentiate between these and more traditional betablockers.
With this perspective on mind, WA is willing to carry out a Project to search the effect of betablockers on the effect of archery shooting performance, more specifically fine motor tuning during shooing. In this Project, archers will be given beta blockers and their performances will be evaluated in a laboratory setting. The main parameters that will be measured are postural sway, aiming behaviour, mechanical clicker reaction time and actual shooting scores.
It is well-known that athletes may experience some form of stress prior to or during a competition which may reduce or at least negatively affect their athletic performance. Therefore, inhibition or reduction of stress related behaviour and responses, like tremor or increased body sway, in sports requiring fine motor tuning may prove beneficial by utilizing beta blockers. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether the intake of a beta blocker would exert positive effects on physical performance capacity, such as an increase in shooting performance in elite archers. The reserach group has compated the effects of a single dose oral selective (nebivolol) and non-selective (propranolol) beta blockers vs placebo and control shooting. A randomized double-blind cross over trial was used to assess shooting scores, heart rate values, body sway and aiming behaviour on 15 archers. The results, despite the lower heat rate after taking beta blockers, did not show any difference between the groups in archery performance characteristic. In addition, beta blockers did not effect aiming behaviour and body sway during shooting. It was concluded that as regards to the performance capacity, neither selective nor non-selective beta blocker use do not improve athletic performance in archery.