Bulking up to shoot?
August 16, 2008 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Why would someone who is competing in shooting in the Olympics need to dope up?

While reading this CNN article about the Swedish Greco-Roman wrestler who threw his medal down and was disqualified, towards the end, it says;

"On Friday, North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su had his silver and bronze medals taken away after failing a doping test."

Not trying to diss the accuracy or skill involved in competitive shooting, but what kind of substances could he possibly have been using to gain an "edge? and why" Are the guns heavy so you need to bulk up? Is there a time limit so you have to be super-quick? I can see that in Skeet shooting but is it enough to tempt one to use performance-enhancing drugs? And what drugs would they be? Speed to make you more awake?
posted by xetere to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
Best answer: The drug that he tested positive for could be used to make your hands shake less.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:16 PM on August 16, 2008

Response by poster: The drug that he tested positive for could be used to make your hands shake less.

Perfect, I hadn't thought about that at all. What drug did he test positive for, BTW?
posted by xetere at 6:18 PM on August 16, 2008

From howstuffworks
Beta-blockers are commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure by causing the heart to slow down and lood vessels to relax. Athletes who require steady hands in competition, such as those competing in archery or shooting events, may use them. Possible side effects include lower than normal blood pressure (hypotension), slow heart rate and fatigue.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:20 PM on August 16, 2008

Some folks think that speed, especially in the form of stuff like Ritalin, can also increase focus.
posted by box at 6:20 PM on August 16, 2008

slowing heart rate (one of the effects of this drug) is useful in shooting - you don't want your heart to beat as you pull the trigger (since the gun you are holding will move), but you also want to pull the trigger gently (slowly). a slow heart rate gives you more time between beats. (fun fact: i've heard that biathletes are somehow able to drop their heart rate while shooting (between skiiing)).
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 6:31 PM on August 16, 2008

Probably beta-blockers or something similar.

btw, I can drop my heart rate when I want to. It's pretty easy if you practice.
posted by fshgrl at 7:13 PM on August 16, 2008

I heard one of the shooters who was recently busted was using it to ease anxiety.
posted by alligatorman at 7:25 PM on August 16, 2008

Physiologic tremor is what neurologists call the fact that no one's hands, or any other part connected to muscles, is ever completely still. Muscles are always contracting and relaxing slightly as part of their natural function, and at any given moment the balance between flexor and extensor is fluctuating around the zero point, causing fine movements.

Beta blockers and some other substances, such as nicotine, benzodiazepines and barbiturates, reduce the amplitude of physiologic tremor. Whether that gives shooters an edge is not clear to me. Amphetamines improve performance on a wide variety of tasks, so it would not surprise me to learn that they also improved shooting performance.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:38 PM on August 16, 2008

Apparently Kim Jong Su tested positive for propanolol, which is indeed a beta-blocker. There's an article in Scientific American about this, which is quite informative.
posted by xchmp at 8:15 PM on August 16, 2008

Wow, this is really interesting. I was watching some of the shooting competitions and marveling at how ritualistic and robotic they seemed. I was hoping they were approaching what William Gibson had a character call "Zen spider[s]" and am a little bummed to hear some were doping with beta blockers.
posted by mecran01 at 10:59 PM on August 24, 2008

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