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Article 11 – 2020 (December)

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine – Question and Answers

Article 11 – 2020 (December)

Question:     I am experiencing all sorts of issues transitioning from shooting my rifle to my shotgun. I am right-handed, but left eye dominant. I have checked this several times and are certain this is the case. I have tried shooting left-handed, but I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks because it just feels so awkward shooting from my left shoulder. I have read older articles that have appeared in Australian Shooter where you suggest trying and learn to shoot clays from the same side as your dominant eye. I have tried this and are simply useless from my left side. Is there a second option? Currently I am closing my left eye, but I really am struggling to see the clays, or anything else for that matter, clearly. I had my eyes checked and I was told I have no issues and don’t need glasses for distance. Any advice will be appreciated.

Ron Coburn, Gordon VIC


Answer: It is not the end of the world Ron; you are not alone. It is a topic we have covered several times, but I am happy to expand on this issue a little deeper as it is such a common problem.

Right handiness and left eye dominance occur in about twenty-eight per cent of the population (for reasons I don’t know I am told it is more predominant in females than males). If you are a new shooter then, as you have correctly pointed out, I would strongly advise that you try to learn to shoot from your left shoulder therefore gaining the advantage of being able to use your shotgun with both eyes open. With both eyes open you will gain the bonus of a wide peripheral use of your vision that will dramatically enhance your target acquisition particularly on targets travelling at unknown angles, distances and heights.

Changing shoulders sounds great in theory, but in reality, for many people it is nearly impossible. I certainly am one of those people. There is nothing I can do left-handed that makes me look remotely natural. I am very much right-handed at everything I do in life and if I was forced to shoot from the left shoulder, I believe I would need to find another sport to participate in. If you are like myself in terms of handiness and it sounds like you are, then I would strongly suggest that you purchase a set of shooting glasses. Even though you don’t need a prescription the frames that I am suggesting that you wear will give you the opportunity to use your shotgun whilst keeping both eyes wide open. You might think that is a waste of money as frames without non-prescription lenses would be useless, but besides the safety factor that the glasses will provide, the frames will give you the opportunity to shoot with both eyes wide open which will certainly help your shooting skills.

Here’s how to customize your shooting frames for cross dominance use. Put your shooting frames on your head with your non-prescription lenses. I would suggest you purchase a set of clear lenses for all-round use. You may be tempted to purchase some darker lenses for use in the sun, but these will inhibit you in poor light. If you can afford both then all the better. Make sure your shotgun is unloaded and point your shotgun at a mirror. With a white-board marker mark the point on your left (dominant eye) lens that covers the pupil of your eye AFTER you have mounted the gun to your shoulder. You may need someone to assist you here. After you have identified that point get some smudged sticky tape and insert a piece of tape approximately one centimetre in diameter over that point. If you want nobody to know what you are doing then you can insert the tape on the inside of the lens. This will effectively stop you using your left eye to shoot with and more importantly allow you to keep both eyes wide open which will dramatically benefit your vision by letting more light to travel into your eye.

Closing one eye often causes you to squint out of your good eye which in effect is stopping the amount of light entering and this will have a substantial detrimental outcome for your ability to quickly and clearly identify your target.

Your problem, as I previously stated, is very common particularly from shooters that have learnt to use a rifle where closing one eye won’t be at your detriment especially if you are using a scope.

Try this simple remedy and I am sure you will be on your way.

Good luck.

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