Evaluating the effects of visual traits on individual marksmanship performance in a simulated fireteam engagement
Authors: Peioneti Lam, Jose Villa, John Christopher, Stephanie Brown, Linda Desimone, Wade Elmore, Seth Elkin-Frankston, Victoria Bode, Blake Mitchell
Abstract: Enhancing fireteam lethality remains a key priority for the U.S. Army. Along with team dynamics, individual marksmanship performance is a core contributor to a fireteam’s lethality. When considering factors that affect marksmanship performance, an individual’s visual sensory and perceptual traits have been identified as having some of the most influential impacts, however, these insights have primarily been drawn from studies wherein participants completed individually based marksmanship tasks. From an operational perspective, Soldiers are more likely to engage in combat at the team level or higher, and thus, research investigating the effect of individual traits in the context of a team marksmanship task is warranted. The goal of this research is to evaluate individual traits by quantifying relationships between visual traits and marksmanship performance during a team marksmanship task and assess which traits are well defined between high and low performing individuals on the team. This research was completed using data from a cohort of 38 male, Infantry Soldiers who completed a simulated team shooting scenario (TSS) in teams of three at a 72-hour field exercise. Prior to the study onset, visual trait information was collected from each participant, to include dynamic visual acuity, field of view, and useful field of view data. These traits were compared to marksmanship performance gathered from the TSS task. The scenario represented an escalating firing engagement over five minutes. In this engagement, teams were situated in the center of a circle of 28 LED targets, which they were required to scan and engage when a designated hostile was displayed. During the scenario, the LED targets were dormant until activated at various times in different shapes to represent hostile or friendly targets. Weapon-attached sensor technology provided shot timing and placement data which was used to calculate team marksmanship outcomes (i.e., probability of target hits, percent of targets engaged).To explore the relationship between visual traits and marksmanship performance, a correlation analysis was conducted using baseline visual trait data and the TSS marksmanship data. Results of the analysis revealed a strong relationship between central vision processing and probability of hit (r = .32, p = .06). To assess differences in central vision processing between high and low skilled performers (high performers had a p(hit) greater than .3, N = 19), an independent t-test was conducted with marksmanship performance group as the independent variable and central vision processing accuracy as the dependent variable. Results of this analysis revealed a statistically significant difference (t(35) = 2.11, p = 0.04, d = .68), between the top half of performers (M = .92, SD = .03) and the bottom half of performers (M = .87, SD = .08). These results suggest that individuals with higher visual processing capabilities are more likely to perform better in realistic operational engagements with a dynamic setting requiring sector scanning. Findings of this study provide initial evidence that technological or training enhancements to marksmanship performance should consider addressing deficits in or augmenting central visual processing to improve probability of hit on the intended target.
Keywords: teaming, marksmanship, vision
Cite this paper: