Article 3 – 2017
Question: I have recently started clay shooting and have become very addicted. I have been a long time rifle shooter where I just naturally shut my left eye when sighting. I have had my eye dominance tested and I am left eye dominant, but I am right handed at everything. I was told that I would need to close my left eye when shooting clays however many people have told me that for shotgun shooting there is a real advantage keeping both eyes open. My question is should I learn to shoot from my left shoulder to overcome the eye dominance problem?
Timothy Appelton, Adelaide SA
Answer: I have certainly answered this question in previous issues of the Australian Shooters Journal, but it is well worth revisiting.
For those statistically minded the basic breakdown amongst the world’s shooting population is roughly spread across the follow six categories and percentages:
1) 59 % of shooters are right handed and right eye dominant
2) 8% are left handed and left eye dominant
3) 28% are right handed and left eye dominant (seen as an advantage in some ball sports such as cricket, tennis and baseball)
4) 4% are left handed and right eye dominant (many people in this group have often strangely suffer from dyslexia)
5) .5 % has varying dominance (sometimes due to health reasons such as diabetes)
6) .5% has no dominance
In theory at least 32% (categories 3 & 4) of the world’s shotgun shooters should shoot with an eye closed or wearing a patch over their dominant eye IF they are shooting from the shoulder of their handiness. A percentage of shooters (there is no data available as to the exact percentage) have been able to teach themselves to shoot from their opposite handiness or have been able to change their eye dominance with the help of optical exercises and therefore can they can keep both eyes open.
Shotgun shooting is one of the few things that you do in life where you need to know your eye dominance. My wife Lauryn owns and operates a corporate clay target shooting business and every day when running a group through she will ask if anyone in the group is left handed? Typically in a group of twenty only one and many times nobody will put their hand up to use the left handed shotguns she provides. After just one or two shots she generally finds five or six people in the group that try to lay their face across the stock of the shotgun and aim with their left eye. The percentage she has in her corporate groups is in accordance with the average in the world’s general population. The point being is that the greater percentage of people are right handed, but a far less percentage can actually shoot naturally from their right shoulder. I know of at least three Olympic Gold Medallists that were “one-eyed” shooters due to cross dominance between their handiness and eye. In trap shooting, where the starting position of the shotgun can often be pointed straight at the clay throwing machine when the target is released, there is not too much of a disadvantage shooting with one eye closed or having a set of shooting glasses with a small patch covering the optical centre of the dominant eye. Changing shoulders is a difficult and frustrating exercise for many people and If you were just shooting for enjoyment I personally would not change. My preference would be to buy a set of shooting glasses and cover the centre of your left lense with a small piece of smudged up or smeared sticky tape therefore forcing your right eye to take control. This also allows both eyes to remain wide open thus letting the maximum amount of light penetrate your eye. Closing one eye often causes your “good” eye to become squinted which is about the last thing you want to do when trying to locate your target flying across the sky. Good luck with it all and remember if you fail at clay shooting your eye dominance issues may be an advantage for you in other sports.