Dominant Eye Changing

Dear Bruce,

First off I am really glad to find a place where the real truth is flailed! I have been shooting sporting clays for six months. I am currently shooting in the high seventy percent bracket fairly regularly. That magic eighty percentile mark is my immediate goal. I shoot a Browning “golden clays”[auto] with 28” ported barrel, use #8 Federal gold medal for everything. The better I get, the more I try to practice. I have noticed that when I shoot back to back 100 bird rounds that my score starts to drop drastically about halfway through the second round.I am 57 years old. I have had cataract surgery on both eyes, with the left eye being done five years after the right one. All eye tests show the right eye to be dominant, but have been done when my eyes are rested. Is it possible that my eyes are switching dominance when being put under a prolonged strain? How to detect such an occurrence? should I just block out the left lens of my shooting glasses. Seems like I would be giving up some vision acuity to do so needlessly.


Dear Ron,

What a great phrase- “Flailing the truth”! I’ll definitely have to use that one in the future. And flail it I do. Mercilessly.

As to eye dominance that changes with fatigue- yes, I believe that to be quite possible. I’m not an eye doctor, but I have heard of it happening. I think that you are on the right track in what you propose. When you feel dominance might be changing, just close your left eye and shoot one-eyed, or use the patch if you prefer that. Probably a small patch is best. I like a piece of Scotch translucent cellophane tape. That’s the frosty kind. Have a friend position it on your glasses so that it obscures the front sight from your left eye when the gun in fully mounted.

You might also contact your eye guy for some eye exercises. The eye is a muscle and you can exercise it like any other muscle. I’ve heard of mild cases of cross-dominance being cured by certain eye exercises. If your eye doctor doesn’t know of them, there are plenty of sports medicine eye doctors who know all about it.

Yes, you will be losing some visual acuity when you close or obstruct one eye. You will also lose depth perception, as that depends on binocular vision. Still, there are plenty of very good shooters who use a patch. It’s an obstacle, but not an insurmountable one.

One final thought: 200 sporting clays targets in a row is a looong day. You say that you hold up fine for the first 150 and then sometimes crash. Yes, it could be an eye issue, but it could also be pure bodily fatigue. Playing any game hard is tiring. Shooting a shotgun requires exquisite timing. It is understandable that normal fatigue would make your timing deteriorate. Swings slow. Heads lift. That sort of thing. I’m not saying that’s the case here, but you should not overlook the possibility.

Best regards,

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

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2 Responses to Dominant Eye Changing

  1. Ron,
    I had dominance issues also after cataract surgery.
    My right (dominant) was done first and my shooting improved, I saw the target better.
    Left eye was done 6 months later and I began having an issue where my left eye would try
    to “take over.” if you can see it that way.
    Example: on station 6 high house, a left to right crosser that I have shot a thousand times, my focus would shift from over the gun to the left side of the gun as I acquired the target.
    I missed 8 in a row one day and did not again shoot for several months.
    I did not want to try shoot with my left eye closed or partially closed or tape my glasses.
    The next time I shot a longtime friend and shooter told me to really focus on the bird .
    I can’t say if it was the focusing or my vision “reset” over time, but things have improved.
    I still drop a high 6 (and others) now and then, but I’m looking over the gun and not alongside it when I do.
    Best of luck to you.


  2. Yes, as Bruce said, Eye Dominance can change with fatigue, both physically and mentally. Just like a computer that is getting loaded with “stuff”, and starts to slow down as it gets more and more packed, so does our brain. Mental fatigue is as much or more of a factor in your 200 target day as anything. I am sure someone along the way has said to you, “you got lazy” with that move to the target. Do you think that was all physical? That laziness came through your eyes, to your brain, which ran the numbers, and gave feedback to your hands. Somewhere between your eyes and hands there was a problem……and it was not physical fatigue that caused you to be lazy, but your brain telling you hands what to go. Next time you want to put in a 200 target day, try shooting rounds of 50 targets, with a break in between each 50, and see what happens in the last 50 targets. Keep track in a log so you know. Then go to 100 with a break, before the next 100. I think you might find different results. If you snack in between rounds, don’t eat heavy foods that can cause your digestive system to demand large amounts of blood. Light snacks such as fruit with high sugar contents do well, and also sports drinks such as Gatoraide, which keeps body chemistry on the level. Stay away from drinks with high caffene levels, as they tend to have peaks, then very low valley’s. Hope this helps


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