Skip to main content

Article 6 – 2019 (July)

person aiming shotgun at target range

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

Article 6 – 2019 (July)


Question: My youngest boy is really keen to start shooting some clays. He has had a go once at a school shoot and loved it. I recently watched a video you made on eye dominance and we found out to our surprise that he is left eye dominant even though he does pretty much everything else as a right-hander. My question is should I teach him to shoot clays right handed?

Keith Garrison, Wonthagi VIC


Answer: Keith it really shouldn’t be such a big surprise that your boy is left eye dominant. Twenty-eight percent of the population is of right handiness, but left eye dominant. It is a subject we have covered several times in this forum so I won’t go into too much detail on it, but your question about whether you should make your son shoot on the opposite side of his eye dominance is an interesting one that is not easy to answer.

There are many people; I am one, that are just hopeless at doing anything on their left side. I am right handed, but right eye dominant so it was never something I had to worry about. My wife, Lauryn, is totally left handed, but also left eye dominant so she never had to worry about what side to mount her gun either. My two youngest kids occasionally have a shot at clays and I was more than curious as to what side of the gun they would stand. I tested their eye dominance at an early age and they were both right so I taught them to shoot off the right shoulder. I would have to be honest with you that if either of them were left eye dominant I would have taught them the basics of clay target shooting from their left side even though, like me, they cant scratch themselves with their left hand.

My kids have no ambitions in the sport as they have other sporting and artistic interests that they are pursuing, but if it was at all possible at such an early age to get them to mount and point the shotgun correctly with two eyes open then I would have made them try for a period of time. Only being able to use one eye when shooting clays is not the end of the world. Many great champions have achieved some fantastic results with one eye therefore you could argue it is no great disadvantage BUT it certainly is no advantage either. There are many disciplines of clay shooting or even situations when you hunt where having two eyes open is clearly advantageous so my advice is to give him a chance to see if he can shoot off the left shoulder with two eyes open.

The practical issue you have is that you will need to get him a left-handed shotgun or at the very least a left-handed stock to try this with. A right-handed stock probably won’t let the young guy look down the centre of the barrel too easily and it will increase the perceived recoil of the firearm. This may cause some bad habits to form so don’t let him use a right-handed shotgun. If you decide that it is impossible for him to shoot consistently off his left shoulder then I would suggest buying him a set of shooting glasses, which you will need anyway, and simply block out the optical centre of the left lense so he can’t use his dominant eye to shoot with, but he can still leave both eyes open. One of the worst habits a new shooter can form is closing one eye that often leads them to squint out of their other eye. That is the last thing you want to do.

Good luck with your boy. Teaching him to shoot will be one of the most enjoyable activities you could ask for.

Questions to:

Article 5 – 2019 (June) Previous Article Article 7 – 2019 (August) Next Article