I am a right-handed shooter and left-eye dominant. I know I am handicapped from the start, but can I still learn to shoot well like this?
Yes. For a variety of reasons, some shooters insist on shooting from the side opposite the dominant eye, a situation referred to as cross-dominance. In many cases, cross-dominant shooters don’t want to retrain themselves to mount to the dominant side, or they have some physical limitation. Whatever the reason, you must figure out a way to put the nondominant eye (on the shooting side of the cross-dominant shooter) in charge of gun placement.
In most cases (and there are exceptions), there are three ways to make the nondominant eye the dominant eye:
- Close the dominant eye (the non-shooting-side eye) just prior to completion of the mount and through the break point.
- Apply an occlusion device over the dominant eye (Shotspot, Magic Dot, lip balm, tape, etc. ó no larger than 16 mm).
- Strengthen the nondominant eye through conditioning, to make the nondominant eye the dominant eye.
Which option is best for you really depends. Closing the dominant eye (option 1) prior to the mount and through the break point always works, provided that the timing is consistent from shot to shot. Altering and redirecting the neural pathways through conditioning is possible for some shooters (option 3), but it takes a tremendous amount of time. In my experience, applying a 16mm diameter occlusion device (option 2) has a high probability of success and promotes consistency. Proper placement of the dot is critical. There are different densities of occlusion foils available, and if you are not solidly dominant on the side opposite the shotgun, you can often get the job done with an occlusion foil that is somewhat translucent, thus preserving more of your peripheral vision. You should seek the assistance of a shooting instructor knowledgeable in resolving eye dominance anomalies.
Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at www.doncurrie.com.