Cross Dominant Skeet


Dear Readers,

Mark is a AAA class skeet shooter. He is also strongly cross dominant. Since cross dominance affects so many shooters, I thought you might be interested in what fixes worked for this top class shooter. Cross dominance fixes are very subjective and most of the shooters I know find the patch to be all they need. Mark finds that closing the off eye or “blinking down” works better for him.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

Bruce,

I’d be glad to list the corrective measures I’ve taken to overcome my eye dominance problem. It might save other shooters the grief of taking advice from experts that have never had the problem.

Here they are: As a right-handed shooter with an essentially blind right eye, I have to have one of the worst cases of left eye dominance imaginable. I grew up with guns, and as far back as I can remember I was shooting a pistol using my left eye, and tightly closing the left eye to shoot rifle and shotgun. I never thought much about it. As a career military member I have fired about every type of firearm in the US arsenal and again, the whole issue of eye dominance was never anything I gave any thought to.

That changed 4 years ago when I shot my first round of skeet. I was instantly hooked. But as I shot more, I seemed to be incapable of regularly hitting high 2,3 and 4. Note that I was still shooting my old way (closing my left eye tightly). I listened to all the local experts, held my gun where they said to, positioned my feet just so, but nothing seemed to work. I could never get far enough in front of high 2, and I seemed to have an unbreakable habit of raising my face off the wood on 3 and 4 high.

4 years and 100,00 targets later I believe I have it wired. When I miss a target now it’s because I forgot the basics, MY basics. I shot my first NSSA registered target this year and I’m currently classified AAA in 12 gauge and AA in the other gauges.

KEEP THE LEFT EYE CLOSED. I’ve tried the patch, I’ve tried left hand shooting, and I’ve tried shooting with both eyes open and lining up over the shadow barrel. It all works to some extent, but none work very well. If you are a 15-year-old just learning to shoot maybe these tricks will work for you, but us old dogs can’t learn tricks that negate a lifetimes experience and muscle memory. At least this old dog couldn’t. My rule of thumb is that when the recoil pad touches the shoulder, the left eye shuts and stays shut.

Understand that by keeping the left eye shut you are going to lose vital peripheral vision on the left side of the field. The trick is to find ways to compensate and overcome this liability. I believe the techniques I use not only overcome the handicap, but ultimately make me a stronger shooter. If I don’t get an inkball on high 2 halfway to the center pin I’m disappointed.

KEEP YOUR GLASSES SPOTLESS. The upper left corner of your right lens is critical. If it’s smudged or streaked you are literally blind and missing high 2, 3 and 4 is guaranteed. I carry two rags with me while shooting. One for my glasses and one for sweat. I spray de-fogger and cleaner on my glasses before every round of skeet, even during tournaments, and on humid days I’ll wipe the right lens after every station. My experience is that anything that degrades your vision (poor light, bad background, dirty glasses) is going to cause a natural reaction I call “up-periscope”. You raise your head to see better, causing you to miss the target.

MORE ON GLASSES. Wear your glasses snug against your face. Because your right eye must see as far to the left as possible, the higher up you wear your glasses, the wider your field of view. This will certainly cause smudging due to recoil; that’s why I carry two rags.

HOLD IN TIGHTER TO THE HIGH HOUSE. On station 2, 3 and 4 I set my break point in from the center pin about 5 feet, then twist my body left until I can clearly see the chute on the high house with my right eye. That’s my hold point. I don’t look for any set distance.

PULL THROUGH 2,3 AND 4 HIGH. Like it or not, with your barrel as far left as it must be to see the chute, you will never have enough time to get a sustained lead on these birds. Learn to come from behind and fire as the barrel passes the bird. With practice you will be amazed how fast you can break these targets. A side benefit is that the pull through method assures a smooth follow-through and better prepares you for other clay target sports. As unusual as it sounds, I shoot sustained lead on all the “slow” targets, and pull through on all the “fast” ones.

WAIT ON DOUBLES. Because you have a limited field of view, it’s essential to break the first bird on doubles from 3,4 and 5 over the center pin. If you rush the first bird, your gun barrel (and your line of sight) is in the wrong place and you will be delayed acquiring the second bird. A delay in doubles means a miss. By breaking the first bird over the pin, the second bird is in the middle of your limited field of view and therefor easier to acquire and swing on (and break).

MORE WEIGHT FORWARD. I believe that one-eyed shooters have a pronounced tendency to raise their head off the stock because of vision limitations. (Up-periscope again). In addition to doing everything possible to enhance vision, you can also make it physically more difficult to raise you head while swinging the gun by shifting more weight to the front foot, slightly bending the front knee and leaning forward. This action causes you to slightly “crouch” over the gun.

To demonstrate this, mount your gun while standing flatfooted with your weight evenly distributed on both feet. You can freely move your head up and down with no restrictions. Now shift much of your weight to the front foot, lean forward and bend your front knee. When you try to raise your head up now there’s physical resistance from your neck and shoulders. You can’t raise your head without standing fully upright.

When I’m shooting a tournament and I’m as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, I tell myself before every station to get the weight forward.

NOT JUST FOR SKEET, BUT LOW GUN TOO. As I also shoot Sporting Clays, 5-Stand, and Modern Skeet every chance I get, I’ve had to learn to shoot one-eyed low gun. Here’s how I do it:

I stand with the gun in front of me, butt down, and barrel up with the bead just below my line of sight with both eyes open. I lock my head, shoulders and gun into one movable object. When one moves they all move. I call for the bird, acquire it and begin my swing as I mount the gun (both eyes still open). The instant the gun butt hits my shoulder I close my left eye, pull through the target and fire. It usually works.

Bruce, I hope I didn’t ‘go on’ too much. But shooting is my favorite subject and once I got started the words just kept coming. Hope this helps folks out there.

Mark

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1 Response to Cross Dominant Skeet

  1. Andy Wilson says:

    Great write-up. I have started to suffer from increasing left eye dominance and I am a right hand shooter. This report has helped me and as I shoot skeet and sporting I often find shooting with the gun just out of my shoulder and the closing my left eye when I mount the gun works well for me.

    On skeet I find the worst targets for me are high house on stands 4 and 5, I think I need to adjust my ready position slightly to the left as I seem to pick up the clay nearer the centre and kill it after the pin, and that means I have to really chase the low house clay.

    Thanks for all the reports, very enjoyable reading.

    Like

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