Eye/hand Dominance 101...


Dave McCracken
June 13, 2003, 01:32 PM
Today was the third straight trip to PGC in a row where someone was having trouble hitting due to mixed eye/hand dominance that I was able to help simply by telling them to shut their left eye.

I've seen estimates that say that 40% of women and 15% of men have this problem, and sometimes it seems the estimates run low.


Look at the place where two walls and the ceiling meet farthest from you with both eyes open. Point to it with your trigger finger,arm fully extended. Now close your eye on that side. If the point and your finger are still aligned, you have some eye/hand dominance issues.

This shows the most when shotgunning. Handguns and rifles have sights, and the near-ubiquitous scope sidesteps the issue nicely. But the eye is the rear sight on a shotgun. So, we NEED that eye in line properly.

So, you've done the test and found that you're among the accursed. So what's next?

There's a number of ways to deal with mixed dominance.

Shoot from the other side. I urge complete rookies to do this, but someone with lots of shooting behind them has to backtrack a good bit.

Use a Magic Dot. This is placed on the lens of the shooting glasses where the dominant eye is blocked from seeing the bead. Supposedly, this allows two eye vision but keeps the correct eye the correct eye in charge.

Switch to a fiber optic bead, the kind that one can only see from directly behind. Brister talks of this in his masterwork, ca 1976.

The Hull Elf uses a front sight on his trap gun that has a little fence on the left side that blocks the off eye from seeing the bead. Made of metal thin enough that it's nigh invisible from behind, he says it works.

Or one can just close that eye. One loses stereoscopic vicion, but this is otherwise quite effective.

I had dominance probs in the past, but they seem to be in abeyance at the moment. Grinding out thousands of shots helps....

Questions, comments?...

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June 13, 2003, 01:43 PM
I only use one eye for everything I shoot. Two eyes and I'm off.

I've noticed, and this is weird, but when I open my other eye after my shots, that eye is blurry. Is that common?

By the way, Dave, you forgot to mention that installing a laser on the shotgun with help when shooting skeet. :scrutiny: ;)

Stay Low
June 13, 2003, 09:57 PM
I am "cross eye dominant" and shoot a lot of shotguns. I use the dot on the glasses to obscure the vision in the dominant eye just enough to switch the dominance to the other eye. It works for me. Other guns i close the left eye.

Dave McCracken
June 14, 2003, 09:18 AM
Darrin, talk to your optician. It doesn't happen to me.

Lazers and skeet? Oi vay is mer....

June 15, 2003, 12:13 AM
I know a duckhunter that retrained his eye dominance to same side by spending hours in front of the tv watching football and tracking with the (unloaded) SG. also sat in his back yard and tracked the sparrows, bugs, cat, and whatever else was moving. worked for him.

Andrew Wyatt
June 15, 2003, 02:32 AM
I shoot left handed with longarms, and right handed with shorts (pistols).

I'm going to switch to left handed with pistols, as soon as i can get left handed concealment and field holsters.

June 15, 2003, 04:19 AM
Thank you for the info, Dave. I seem to have this problem. Anything I shoot, I do with the left eye closed, if I don't do this I seem to always see two front sights or two targets? I'm rt handed BTW. Using your test I see two fingers or two corners? In the past I have used the following test. Find an object across the room or area your in. Make a circle with the thumb and first finger of your trigger hand at arms length, inclosing the object. Now close the eye opposite your trigger side and if the object dissapears behind your hand your cross eye dominant. Using this I find that my dominant eye is usually my left, but not always? Is it normal to have your eyes switch from time to time? Anyway those sighting sytems you mentioned intrigue me and I will have to check into something like that. I like the idea of having a full feild of vision when shooting.

June 15, 2003, 10:07 AM
There have been scientific studies that show that it is easier to train the hand than train the eye, therefore shoot shoot left handed if left eyed. When I was taking sporting clays lessons there was a women ,left eyed /right handed who had been shooting righteyed and handed . She was being retrained to shoot left eyed and handed but that was tough to changew old habits.

Dave McCracken
June 16, 2003, 05:47 AM
A couple things....

Dominance can change. I was probably left handed and left eye dominant as a child. The school I attended was right out of the Dark Ages. The Nuns tied my left hand to the desk to force me to write righthanded. A childhood illness left me with a very bad left eye, now rectified by surgery. So I switched.

When instructing, I ran across lots of folks without a strong dominance one side or the other. Mostly they did well by shooting from whatever side they wanted to. True ambidexterity is quite rare, but lots of us can change if we want to.

FYI, Brad Dysinger, the ATA hot shot, is RH, Left eyed, but has run 100 shooting southpaw. Mostly he shoots RH.

August 1, 2003, 10:21 AM
Hi Dave,

Sorry to revive an old post, but I just registered an have been reading up on Shot Guns. I'm not sure hand dominance actually changes. Righties who are taught to play hockey lefty are still right handed....

When you write with your right hand, is your wrist strait or bent to almost 90 degrees? If your wrist is strait, your may really be right hand dominant via the CNS. If it's bent to 90, then you are still using the left hand/right side of your brain. Back in college one of our psych prof's explained this. You can flex and extend with crossed inervation, but only flex and relax the other way. So if you are writing with your right hand and are lefty, you flex to 90 and control movement simply by relaxing the muscles.

Now take all that with a grain of salt because I never ran it by a neurologist, but I have seen a lot of lefties write righty with a bent wrist.


Dave McCracken
August 2, 2003, 05:59 AM
Todd, thanks. I scribble with a straight wrist, which may mean I am RH, or that the Nuns mentioned beat me until I did. It's been a long time and some of that sad time had been mercifully forgotten. My handwriting is horrible, though I've good fine motor skills otherwise.

I do shoot fairtomiddlin' rifle and handgun as a Southpaw.

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