My wife is “center ocular.” She is a beginner but seems to only hit birds when she closes her left eye (shooting right-handed). How do you compensate for center vision in gun fitting? Or is she better off just learning with one eye?
The short answer is, we never want to adjust the fit of a shotgun to compensate for any “bias” in eye dominance. We treat eye dominance and gun fit as two critical but separate issues with distinctly different fixes.
When a shooter is center ocular, it means that they do not have a dominant eye and, in some cases, the non-shooting eye is taking over and negatively affecting gun placement. Assuming this is the case with your wife, there are essentially three solutions: 1) train the brain to adjust the subconscious sight picture, 2) wink an eye just prior to the shotgun connecting with the cheek, 3) use an occlusion device, such as a dot, to reduce the influence of the visual input from the non-shooting eye.
It is theoretically possible to train the brain to adjust the subconscious sight picture to compensate for the influence from the non-shooting eye. This takes a tremendous amount of time and targets to do, and some shooters are never able to make the adjustment. The younger a person is, the more malleable their brain is and the more capable they are of making this change. I will often recommend to my wingshooting students, who shoot only a handful of times in a given year, that they visually acquire the target with both eyes and then wink an eye as they commit the comb of the stock to the cheek. For the majority of my students in these situations who are sporting clays enthusiasts, shoot regularly and work hard to improve their performance, I will use a slightly opaque dot on the lens of the non-shooting eye to make the shooting eye more dominant. Most students tolerate and adjust to the dot quite well, and if the dot is properly placed, it solves the problem.
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.