Does caffeine affect shooting performance?

Have there been any studies on the reaction time and accuracy of a shooter while under the influence of caffeine or energy drinks?

I warn my firearms students before their qualification test day that they might want to stay off of coffee, soft drinks, and energy drinks since these could cause them to shoot poorly or fail their qualifications due to the effect of caffeine on stress level.

Is this a myth or should this be considered a training issue?

Phil Chachere
Certified Firearms Instructor
Police Tactics & Training
Concord, CA

Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute, responds:

“I know of no studies specifically addressing the effect of caffeine on LEO shooting performance, although Google or Google Scholar should lead you to a number of academic studies about the impact of stimulants on motor skills generally in the non-police world.

“It’s clear that caffeine plays a role in physical arousal and tends to act as a distractor. The key is to train sufficiently so that you learn to live with its effects. That’s a critical function of good stress-inoculation training. By becoming familiar and competent with performing under stress, officers learn to focus their concentration on the important and necessary tasks of defending their lives and to effectively ignore or overcome distractions of all kinds, including those of a physiological nature.”

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