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Dominant eye switched....what now?

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Need2Know, Jun 16, 2009.

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  1. Need2Know

    Need2Know TS Member

    Jun 12, 2009
    Over the last few years I've had some surgery on my right eye. Over that time, my vision has become slightly worse in my right eye and it seems my left eye is now dominant. I shoot RH. I find myself squinting the left eye or even closing it when moving to shoot the target. Is there a way to get my right eye dominance back? Or what should I do generally? Thanks.
  2. MTA Tom

    MTA Tom Active Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    This is a very complicated, contoversial issue. I'm reposting Michael Yardley's thoughts, which I think make more sense than most:

    "For most people, shotgunning is easier and more effective with both eyes open. Binocular vision facilitates the estimation of distance speed and angle, and helps one to get the full benefits of hand-to-eye coordination (if you doubt it, try catching a ball with one eye shut). There are other benefits to binocular vision such as reduced tension and fatigue. However, do not believe those who tell you simplistically that everyone should shoot with both eyes open. It is just not that simple (which condemns more than a few shooting tomes to the pyre): the critical consideration is eye dominance.

    It is a curiosity of the binocular system of human vision (at least in most adult males) that one eye tends to control pointing. If a finger were pointed at a distant object, there would be a straight line relationship from object to finger to eye. The pointing eye, whichever it may be, is called the dominant or master eye. The majority of adult men have eye dominance which matches their handedness and, once this is confirmed, are well advised to shoot with both eyes open. There are other possibilities. Some may be cross-dominant (e.g., right-handed with a left master); a few have central vision (neither eye dominating); and others may be predominantly but not fully dominant in one eye. For those shooting a standard gun who fall into one of these categories, the best advice is usually to shut or squint one eye. In women and children, absolute dominance in the eye overlooking the breech is the exception, and one-eyed shooting is often the simplest remedy too.

    Eye dominance is an intriguing phenomenon in which biological, environmental and experiential factors appear to play a role. Eye dominance in boys typically becomes more absolute with advancing years. In middle-aged men, however, it may become less absolute. It may be affected by training (disciplining oneself to sustain focus on the bird and ignore any “ghost” image), but results are unpredictable. It is (largely) unrelated to visual acuity (one can have poor vision in one eye yet it can still be more dominant as far as the control of pointing is concerned). It can vary in the same individual. It can be disturbed by fatigue, ill-health, staring at computer screens, long-distance driving and low light levels. It is not just a physical phenomenon, but a mental one as well. Having considered some of the scientific literature while researching this book, it appears that gunfitters may have a more profound understanding of eye dominance than anyone else (especially with regard to sex and age differences).

    The diagnosis of eye dominance certainly involves far more than a simple – and potentially inaccurate – observation that an individual is right or left eye dominant (any testing method that only gives “either/or” results is worthless). It is common, for example, to find a male client who has what might be called “pseudo-dominance”, i.e., when tested, one eye appears to be almost – but not quite fully – dominant. Such a condition is easily overlooked by an inexperienced or sloppy instructor (typically being misdiagnosed as full dominance). However, the effects on shooting can be profound. Typically, there will be many inexplicable misses on quartering and crossing targets where the lead does not favor the dominance.

    It is not uncommon, moreover, for shooters to be wrongly advised to switch shoulders having been told they were cross-dominant, when in fact their dominance in the opposite eye was not absolute (much better and simpler advice would have been to stick to the “strong” shoulder and squint an eye). All of which leads me to conclude that the precise diagnosis of a client’s eye dominance is one of the most vital considerations in shooting instruction. One need make no apologies for dealing with it in the most scrupulous manner…. A right-hander with a left master eye (or a left-hander with a right master eye) has a number of options. One of the easiest, in the former case, is to shoot from the right shoulder but closing or dimming the left eye prior to firing. Rather than keeping the eye shut throughout the pickup, swing and mount, it will be better for most sporting and game shots to dim the eye as the gun comes up to the shoulder. This way one gets some of the benefits of binocular vision and has an increased field of view during the critical pickup phase. It is a definite mistake to dim the eye only at the last moment as this may be visually confusing.

    The offending eye may be covered with a patch (although instructors who inflict this on novices should try it themselves), or if the student wears spectacles, a block to vision may be placed over the appropriate lens. This need not be a full-sized patch but may be a much smaller block, refined so that it is no more than a half inch across. One may use electrician’s tape, a smudge of Vaseline, chapstick, typing correction fluid or a Magic Dot on the lens to achieve this (once the position and size are confirmed, glasses may be permanently and neatly modified by sandblasting in an optical workshop)…. Kay Ohye, the famous trap shot, developed a “blinder” to be attached to the rib near the muzzles of over-and-unders. It has subsequently been manufactured by several firms. Another clever device consists of a U-shaped channel with a fluorescent sight at one end. This may be attached to the barrel and when in place, the brightly-coloured insert can only be seen by the eye looking along the rib. A similar effect may be achieved by using the thumb on the forend to block the vision of the eye not looking down the rib (as practiced by both Churchill and Barry Simpson)….

    A traditional remedy for those whose master eye and handedness do not correspond, is to learn to shoot from the left (or weak) shoulder with or without a suitably adapted (cast-off changed to cast-on triggers reshaped) gun. I do not usually favour this course (though it is sometimes appropriate). The advantage of binocular vision may be outweighed by the awkwardness of the manoeuvre. It is my experience that few of those who are forced to take this route develop into really first class shots (although many one-eyed shots, beating the odds, do)….

    Finally beware: not everyone who shoots as their eye dominance – as tested – might suggest. Some may be able to shoot well with both eyes open, even though initial testing without a gun indicates a dominance problem. Some will have inconsistent eye dominance (my own normally right-eyed dominance fades and can even switch when I get tired). Some will have a master eye significantly weaker than the other as far as visual acuity is concerned. Inability to focus can undermine eye dominance. (Sometimes those with contact lenses who have a slight eye dominance problem, may be advised to shoot with the left lens removed.) Some people’s eye dominance is affected by the choice of gun. Short guns and side-by-sides tend to cause more problems than the more pointable over-and-unders. Changing to longer barrels can help someone with a mild eye-dominance problem…."

    The Shotgun, a Shooting Instructor’s Handbook, Michael Yardley, copyright 2001, Safari Press
  3. Trappy12

    Trappy12 Active Member

    Jul 12, 2006
    If all else fails you can become a skeet shooter, they don't need their eyesight much.
  4. drh08

    drh08 TS Member

    Jun 30, 2006
    OUCH Trappy, that is my favorite game :))))
    I shoot left handed and right eye dominate. I tried the magic dot ( gave me a headache) along with many other suggestions that didn't work for me. I started doing just what you are doing. I started shooting with my right eye closed, then went to a squint thing to train the brain to use the left. At some point along the way I quit squinting and now shoot both eyes open. Works for me as long as I don't think about having both eyes open, then the right eye takes over again. This falls apart when I get fatigued shooting however. I believe the eye dominate thing is just another part of the head game of shooting.

    Trappy: It's easier for me to shoot skeet keeping the left eye dominate as the game is faster and I don't have time to think about it. With trap it's much more difficult as that game is so slow, but then again I have almost fallen asleep on the line. As near as I can tell, to be good in trap you have to be in a coma :)

    With that being said, I would assume you brain uses the eye that sees the best, so maybe your only out is to get the other eye to have worse vision. I am guessing this is going to be a very difficult battle and I wish you the best of luck
  5. amboy49

    amboy49 Well-Known Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    out in left field
    Without taking the easy route and blow Trappy up for his obvious ignorance re: shooting in general and specifically skeet - a needed understanding of eye dominance is even more important in skeet due to the severe crossing angles of stations 3,4, and 5 and the quick target acquisition necessary on shots at high 2 and low 6 for the right hand shooter.

    In my experience having shot both "games," trap shooting allows for longer reaction times and more straightforward targets that aren't as prone to result in eye dominance problems.

    A piece of scotch tape on a shooting lense will help solve the cross dominance problem - or possible application of chap stick.

    I recently experienced a blood clot in my right eye ( i'm left eye dominant but shoot right handed ) and must now with diminished vision in my right eye. At age 59 I have pretty well concluded it's too late to learn to shoot left handed and will, therefore, am just trying to learn to "see" the target better through increased concentration.

    If you're shooting is recreational then you only have to deal with the pride factor. If you're playing the money, then you are at a disadvantage from the outset. Since my goals no longer include winning the Grand American nor the World Skeet Championship in Houston - i can live with that. I'm thankfull for the eyesight that remains -
  6. brownk80

    brownk80 Member

    Apr 16, 2007
    Put a Meadow Industries Vari-brite III site on your gun.

  7. gun fitter

    gun fitter Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Interesting Question! Ned2know-I need to know more. What kind of surgery?

    How much degradation of vision has occurred?

    How well do you see the targets if your left eye is patched?

    Most anyone who offers advise here is basing it on their own personal experience and it may or may not apply to your unique condition.

  8. puablo

    puablo Well-Known Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    Know of a few shooters who have switched from right hand to left hand shooting, and have done very well at it. Ed Hale from CT is the first one that comes to mind...he's run hundreds already, and shot caps very well also. I'm sure he would give you info if you decide you have to go that way.
    Good wishes, puablo
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