Shifting Cross Dominance


Bruce,

Recently, I had the occasion to challenge my own eyesight. My shooting became just horrible. Finally, in desperation I tried the “scotch tape over left eyeball/sunglasses” routine and suddenly discovered an enormous improvement in my ability to stay with the targets. Score improvement was also instantaneous. Any room for an article about this eye-shift as we get older??

Thanks again,

Phil

Dear Phil,

Any room for an article on dominance shift as we age or deal with illness or fatigue?

As to me being an “expert”, that’s not true. It’s just that I’ve been around the shooting game for a while and have managed to make just about every mistake possible. I just happen to be lucky enough to remember most of my mistakes and am able to pass that along. Since I’ve done everything wrong possible, what’s left must be right.

I’m reluctant to write too much on eye dominance because I’m not an oculist by training. I know what the practical solutions are and some of the instigators, but by no means all of them. When I coach a new student, the first thing that I do is ask him about protecting any injuries. The second thing we do is always to test dominance. Every now and then I get someone who is neutrally dominant. That happens. Also I’ve met a couple of people who have been able to change their dominance by eye exercise and training. I never thought that was possible, but I’ve seen it. The eye is a muscle and it can be trained quite a bit with enough exercise.

Eye dominance can change as we age, get sick or get tired. It’s possible, especially if the person wasn’t too strongly one-sided to begin with. What you did was exactly the right thing. If you start to have unexplained target misses, it always makes sense to recheck dominance. The easiest way to do that is just to shoot a bit with the off eye closed and see if that solves things. If it does, you want to explore the dominance issue further.

Eye dominance doesn’t have to be strongly one way or the other. If you are right on the edge, fatigue might switch you temporarily. Or difficult lighting conditions.

The usual fixes for cross dominance are:

1) switch sides,
2) blink down,
3) dot on lens.

Less usual fixes are different colored glasses lenses, front sight blinders, light tube front sights, eye exercises. All work for some and not for all. Everyone seems to be a little different.

The most popular fix for a target shooter is the dot. You just take a piece of translucent (frosty) Scotch tape about the size of a dime. With an EMPTY gun, mount the gun like a trap shooter and have someone else place the dot on your off lens so as to obscure the front bead. That’s all. This works for most people.

For a hunter, a dot isn’t a good idea. In the field, the best approach is to “blink down”. Keep both eyes open until you are raising the gun to take the bird. The close the off eye as the shot is taken. It can become quite natural with practice. For some people this technique makes the target “jump”. These people should just blink the eye down a little earlier in the cycle.

Every method has advantages and disadvantages. The bottom line is that the human body was meant to use binocular vision. That’s how we perceive depth. In clay sports, the repetitive nature of the targets lessens the need to judge distance at the instant of the shot, so it is more practical to partially block one eye. The light tubes that “light up” only for the eye over the rib work for some, but I’ve always felt that they promote staring at the barrel, not the bird. I guess that you can train yourself to overcome that.

As we age, everything goes to hell, including the eyes. Of course, getting old may not be great, but consider the alternative. You can exercise your eyes the same way you exercise your body. It might be worth a try to get one of those eye exercise regimens advertised in “Shotgun Sports”. I’ve tried one (I forget which one. It was a long time ago) and felt it didn’t do a lot for me, but I’ve always had good eyes.

You can also do a lot for yourself by sheer concentration. If you look hard enough, you should be able to see the ridges on the clay target. That you can learn to do. Of course, what you are really doing is forcing yourself to concentrate on the bird, not so much improving your eyesight, but the end result is the same. You’ll hit more birds.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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2 Responses to Shifting Cross Dominance

  1. Bruce, Very well done. Just enough – not too much. A very practical approach to a rather complex issue. Rich

  2. Eye Dominance can change for a number of reason, including puberty, stress, hormonal change, and may other factors in the human body. Also, most people are not either right or left eye dominant……..as there are varing degrees of dominance. For example a shooter can be an R1, L3…..which means he/she is basically right eye dominant, but has a slight propensity for left eye take over at certain times. I am that shooter, and was having a hell of a time with L-R Rabbits……..I thought I was always in front, when in actuality I was behind. My left eye was taking over on these shots, and I never knew it until another instructor stood behind me and pointed out where I was. I now know it, and compensate for it on certain shots. A competent instructor trained in eye issues and solutions will be able to diagnose this problem, and offer some help.

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