Repeated exposures to low-level blasts are common in warfighters. Examples of low-level blasts (LLB) are firing a 0.50 caliber sniper rifle, Howitzers, Carl Gustaf rifles, rocket propelled grenades, light anti-tank weapons, shotgun door-breaching rounds, mortars, M4 Carbine rifles, and C4.

Maintaining a high level of situational awareness is integral to performance. But repeated exposures to LLB can chip away at this capability.

Studies in the Special Operations community showed operators had decreased speed and accuracy with divided focus and target following tasks with repeated low-level blast exposures. Other studies have demonstrated the vulnerability of the vestibular system to repeated LLB. This impacts the ability to maintain target focus with running, weapon recoils, or when experiencing rough seas, turbulence, or a rough road.

Essentially, repeated low-level blasts can negatively impact the sensory systems vital for situational awareness which significantly impacts performance.

There remains a dichotomy to readiness. Individuals must be exposed to low-level blasts during training to maintain readiness, but those forces can chip away at essential performance capabilities.

Here are four strategies to address this issue:

  1. Mitigate unnecessary exposures to low-level blasts.
  2. Maximize time between exposures.
  3. Structure training to prioritize sleep after exposures.
  4. Incorporate training the sensory systems for situational awareness in a pro-active, performance-based approach. Strengthening capabilities of skills vulnerable to these exposures.

While the importance of training the sensory systems for situational awareness stands alone, the negative impact repeated low-level blasts can have on performance emphasizes the urgency of training this skill.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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