Right Handed, Left Eye Dominate

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Jan 28, 2010
Memphis, TN
A few weeks ago I took my 9 year old son to get his hunters safety certification and learned that he is left eye dominate. I had noticed over the years when I take him to shoot that he had his entire head over the rifle, but the thought never crossed my mind that he was left eye dominate.

So the question...

Which would be better to teach him?

1) Shoot left handed
2) Shoot with a patch over his eye
3) Let him continue to develop a crick in his neck by crawling over the rifle to acquire the proper sight picture

He is young enough and eager enough to learn now, so I think it is imperative for me to try to help him with what will provide him with the most amount of accuracy in the future.

He shot his first deer with my AR two years ago and the scope bit him when he pulled the trigger. I think he may be more apt to scope bites due to him leaning over the rifle to see with his left eye.

Open to suggestions...lets see where this goes.
I shoot rifles right handed, using my right (weaker) eye.

A little scotch tape on my eye protection makes it easy, and feels very natural.
FWIW, I'm left handed/right-eye dominant and I learned to shoot right handed. If you start him young enough, he'll never know the difference.
ide recommend teaching him to shoot with both hands......take what could be perceived as a "handicap" and turn it into an asset....

i have the same thing and spent a good month or two shooting only left handed....then once i got good with that i switched to shooting right handed...now i can go back and forth with out any problem.
The experts I studied from said this:

1) Shoot left handed

With long guns, shoot to the eye. With handguns, it's not such a big deal. You can certainly "get by" crossing over a long gun stock. But you won't be as proficient as you can be. If he were mine, i'd try to get him to shoot long guns lefty and whatever he wants with handguns.

I highly recommend the book "Shotgunning: The Art and the Science" by Bobby Brister. He talks about this at length. It is also a simple, direct, and amazingly amusing book about shooting that will make anyone better. It works well no matter the platform, shotguns, rifles, handguns. Good stuff, used copies cheap everywhere.
First things first -

Ensure his eye dominance is "switching" back and forth - if it isn't, have him learn to shoot left-handed - this will save him a lot of grief later when he starts with shotguns and pistols

Start slowly and he'll overcome that - much the same way many of us old folks who are LH overcame the teachers trying to make us write RH
Most of you have confirmed so far my theory of teaching him to shoot left handed. So then comes the next, in my opinion, obvious question...do I buy him a left handed rifle? And I guess if my other son is "normal" and shoots correctly ;) does that mean he now has a much greater inheritance of usable firearms? :neener:
I'm right handed and left eye dominant. I shoot handguns right handed, long guns lefty. Apart from bolt guns, I've never felt the need for a left-hand-specific rifle or shotgun. And even bolt guns are liveable.

You might consider having him train left handed, but honestly I'd say let him do what feels most comfortable with the handguns, and encourage left-handed use for long guns.

I would not advise to let him continue shooting right handed but using his left eye for long guns.
I am also right handed and left eye dominate. I come from the school of teaching to shoot from the eye dominance side regardless of the strong hand. Being young, it is way less awkward than switching after you're older, the learning curve is easier to handle. Truly believe to be the best that you can be with shotguning you have to shoot with the dominate eye. Yes, there are exceptions to the rules but this is true 99% of the time. I was very stubborn over the years with shooting a right handed bow and didnt consider switching to a LH until a few years ago. I had to always wear a patch over my left eye while shooting which in turn took away depth of field and field of view. I was finally convinced to go left and boy what a difference. It's night and day and ahve regretted not switching over 30 years ago.

Being right handed I have no problem shooting right handed rifles, though my target shotguns whether autos or O/U's have left handed stocks on them. My vote is to teach him to shoot LH.
How ambi is he at other sports?

Can he kick lefty? Etc.

My right arm is way more coordinated. So I draw and shoot pistols righty. But my left eye works way better and is dominant. So I use my left eye,right hand for pistols.

Eyes are more important than arm coordination with rifles, so I shoot rifles lefty.

I'd teach him to use both sides. Eventually he'll be able to choose the better side. But if you pick a side for him, and only train him on that side. His favorite side may end up being the weaker side. My right eye will not work with scopes at all. Only 1x reddots, maybe your son is similar. With scoped rifles or irons I'm stuck using my left eye, so all my defensive AR's have 1x reddots.

Teach him both sides.
dubbleA, I've seen your shooting and I would have never guessed that you were shooting from your weak side!

My best friend growing up was left handed. We joined the Corps together and went to boot camp together. The M16/AR, IMO is easier to shoot left handed from the off hand position because you can wrap your forward hand around the upper receiver. Righty's would be catching brass if we tried to do that.

Most of my guns are bolts and a bolt is what I will be doing most of my instruction with him. I suppose that I will switch to the 10/22 and his pellet gun and teach him left until I can save some money and find left bolts.

He is a sponge with instruction on things he loves to do; martial arts, soccer, any sport really and he LOVES to hunt. Believe it or not he has been hunting with me since he was 3 (his idea, not daddy forcing him to come) and no one was more surprised than me when he killed his first deer at 7 years of age. When I go hunting now I just about have to sneak out if I want to go alone, but I'm more than happy to oblige his enthusiasm and take full advantage of teaching him the full aspects of life through being a great sportsman.

Thanks for all your advice...keep them coming, especially and resources.
Shoot left handed.

I'm now left eye dominant and right handed. My eye dominance shifted.

Friend's shotgun coach said people shooting opposite side are typically more accurate anyway because the support arm is stronger.

A lefty shooting right handed, uses his left arm as the support arm and a righty gets to use his right arm to support when shooting lefty.

Makes sense, and it's not that difficult to learn.

As for eye dominance switching- If he learns to shoot both sides, he'll be better off anyway.

So then comes the next, in my opinion, obvious question...do I buy him a left handed rifle? And I guess if my other son is "normal" and shoots correctly ;) does that mean he now has a much greater inheritance of usable firearms? :neener:
With semi-autos and lever guns, the side he shoots on is not an issue from a mechanical perspective.

With semi auto 22's you have lots of choices. Pick one you like. But at his age the Marlin 795 at 4.5 lbs is a great kids rifle.

For hunting, the 308 Marlin Express or 338 Marlin Express are excellent choices. Both are 400 yard lever guns. the 308 is within 5% of the 308 Winchester and has about 2/3 the recoil.

The 338 shoots a 200gr bullet withe same trajectory as a 30-06 180 gr bullet and does so with about 3/4 the recoil of an 06 (same recoil as a .270 shooting 150 gr).

My 338 shoots sub MOA in the hands of someone better than me. He will not be handicapped by using levers. Every gun bought by people on Marlin Owners has been 1.5 MOA or better out of the box with most being around 1 MOA

Attached is a ballistics table with the 06 and the marlin levers listed


  • Ballistics comparison.pdf
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My daughter is left eye dominate and right handed. I discovered this when she was six years old and I started teaching her to shoot. Wasn't much information about it then but I had her do the finger trick and it was obvious she was left eye dominate. I told her she had a choice and it was HER choice. She could learn to shoot left or right handed and she should pick was was most comfortable for her to do and I would help her all I could. She chose to shoot right handed and she turned into an excellent shot and still is for that matter.

What I'm getting at is the child should be involved in how they want to tackle their problem and not just told that they have to do it a certain way. They need to have a say because ultimately they have to do it for themselves.
Egads, I must be a freak, a horrible monster! :D
Right handed, left eye dominant, and I shoot absolutely everything right handed. Scopes are easy, close the left eye. The EOTech is even easier, both eyes open, superimpose dot/circle. But I shoot irons with the right eye, NOT the left, and seem to do OK. When I was in the Academy, my class sergeant told me I was going to shoot left handed. I told him no, I would shoot right handed as I had been for years, and I would score expert. I did and I did, top in my class.
Let the kid decide, and have him try both ways, just to be sure, but I can tell you if I tried to shoot left handed now, it would be very awkward.
Why do we speak in terms of right or left handedness with long guns? It takes two hands to shoot long guns, and it makes sense for the stronger arm to be the support arm, does it not? Cross-dominance is not a handicap for shooting long guns, IMHO.

That being said, the act of shooting quickly and accurately, with both eyes open, is usually going to be much more efficient if the long gun is fired from the shoulder on the same side as the dominant eye. I am somewhat cross-dominant, in that I am right armed/legged, and left-eyed, though I am left-handed. It felt more natural to shoot long guns from the right shoulder, but I suffered from aiming issues for years, until I learned I was left-eyed. Switching to shooting from the left shoulder solved the aiming issues.
I too am Left eye dom/ right handed. Once I started shooting off the left shoulder my scores went way up. The biggest difference for me has be with the shotgun.

During claim target shooting it is easy to adapt to using the "non dom eye" but during high stress shooting it is much more difficult.
I have the same problem. Shooting left handed from the bench is a bit more awkward from a coordination standpoint, but leaving both eyes open is more than worth the awkwardness.

Still if I were in the field, and wanted to make a pop shot, id close the left eye, and raise it to the right soldier.
Years ago my daughter and I were plinking cans with a bb gun when I noticed her left eye dominance . I had her try some shots left handed and suddenly she was having fun instead of just pleasing Dad.
It was easy for me to help her as I'm full blown lefty.... except for eating, no handicap there.
He sounds like a perfect candidate for an offset scope mount, like you'll see on a Garand or a Swiss K31; they have to be for someone, cause they sure aren't for lefties like me.
I vote Left

I am left-eye/right-handed. So is my brother and my daughter. So are two of my shooting buddies. My Dad is right-eye/left-handed. None of us have any social impairments and we seem to be contributing positively to society. So why all the angst about cross dominance?
When I started shooting in 1967 the options ffor left-hand firearms were pretty slim. Dad started my brother and me with LH Browning T-Bolts. Later, when contemplating the purchase of a deer/elk rifle, bolt gun choices were Savage 110 or Weatherby Mk 5. The Savage turned out to be a MOA rifle with 180-grain Hornady SP's so that worked out fine.
While the selection of bolt-actions is better than before, there are plenty of other options in the repeating rifle category. I have a large supply of lever-actions and auto-loaders to choose from. I even have LH cap and flintlock rifles.
Savage still leads the pack with LH bolt guns. They are available in .22LR, .22 Magnum, and .17HMR. The 110 series has several useful calibers in the LH line-up. Remington offers the 700 rifle in LH, including my probable-next-rifle, a 22-250 varmint w/ heavy barrel and vented stock.
Teach the kid to shoot from the shoulder that corresponds to his eye dominance. That is the most natural position to shoot from. Shooting is supposed to be FUN, not a struggle.
Get some NRA instruction.

Bitterroot Bob
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