Ask Phil: How to Deal with Left-Eye Dominance Issues

Phil,

What suggestions do you have for a person who is left handed but right-eye dominant? Looking for things I can incorporate at home, at the range, or both. I'm a decent shot but always looking to improve so I can connect on more birds in the field.

Thanks for your help,
Eric

Good question. There are a lot of cross-dominant people out there, men and (especially) women. If you want to shoot with both eyes open, and you really should try to, you have three choices:

The first is to block your dominant eye. A smear of Vaseline or chapstick or a piece of translucent tape on your glasses on the side of your dominant eye is enough to prevent it from taking over while still allowing you to keep both eyes open. You get most of the benefit of two-eyed vision – two eyes take in more light and see better than one -- but you won’t find yourself seeing the only side of the barrel when you’re about to shoot.

The second, radical choice, is to switch shoulders. I’ve helped a few kids on the trap team I coach to switch and shoot from the side of their dominant eye, and it’s amazing how quickly they can adapt. Often it takes only a few shots before they are comfortable and breaking birds. Of course, they are young and haven’t shot much. You have. Learning to switch sides may be a longer process. I’d start by practicing my gun handling at home with an unloaded gun, maybe for 10 minutes a day. You can also drop an AA MiniMaglite with the beam dialed down to the tightest setting into the muzzle of a 12 gauge and practice pointing and swinging, keeping your eye out on the beam and away from the gun. These drills, by the way, are of value to all shotgunners, not just those trying to switch sides. Finally, when you do go to the range to try switching, use very light target loads. You won’t be used to absorbing recoil on your off-side, and the gun will feel like it really kicks.

The third choice is to try shooting with both eyes open without switching sides. I’ve been trying to teach myself to shoot right handed with both eyes open (I am left-handed and left-eyed) to see what it’s like. I can hit some straightaways and shallow angles, although crossers are beyond my right-handed skills so far. All I’ve learned is, it’s not easy and that the more you can focus on the target and ignore the barrels, the less your cross-dominance will hurt you.