other By: Bryan E. Bilinski | October, 21
In my previous column, I invited reader questions. Since it pertains to a very common shooting problem, the following question gets addressed first.
Q: I’m left-eye dominant and shoot right-handed. I’ve never been comfortable shooting with an obscuration dot on my left lens. What do you typically recommend for shooters with this problem?
Tim, Londonderry, New Hampshire
Trust me, Tim, you are not alone. In over 40 years of coaching wing shooters, I have lost count of how many experienced the same problem. They find their shots veer appreciably to the left of every target in flight. For example, if the distance between your pupils is at least 2 inches or more, that gap could equate to shooting 3 or more feet left at 32 yards. That’s obviously a sufficient reason to miss a lot of game birds and targets.
Some solutions to rectify your problem are rather straightforward; others will take some significant time to implement.
First, the simplest way to correct the cross dominancy problem is to squint or close your left eye when shooting. This option may work for you but realize that when you squint or close the opposing eye, the temptation is to aim your shotgun by looking at the bead or rib of the gun while executing the shot. What follows is the tendency to slow or stop the swing of the barrel in relationship to the bird or target in flight. One way to implement this solution is to remove the bead from the barrel and shoot a well-fitted gun that has a stock dimension high enough for you, so your right eye can clearly focus on the target.
Second, a number of my clients have the same concern you have: They are not comfortable shooting with a small circle of translucent tape on their glasses. The translucent tape definitely creates a well-intended “blind spot” that can interfere with viewing surroundings when walking through the fields, so your concern is valid. Clay target shooters, on the other hand, are in a much more controlled shooting environment, and the tape is safer for them to use. But all is not lost.
Two new products, Shotspot and OffEye, may help fix your problem. Both these translucent products are also meant to be affixed to the opposing (left) lens of your shooting glasses. The Shotspot is a virtually clear piece of tape, 16 mm round, that has a computer-infused checkerboard pattern of lines that foil the eye. The pattern basically allows you to see through the tape, but more important, not focus through the opposing eye. Bird hunters report they really liked the enhanced vision they experienced by using the tape and found it very beneficial to their days afield.
The OffEye optical filters from Birchwood Casey are a much larger set of adhesive-backed tape about the size of a normal lens. They are made with a more obviously infused black checkerboard pattern. I have just started testing and trying this product with my clients.
Third, consider shooting a side-by-side shotgun. On side-by-side barrels, you can position your leading hand and thumb so they deliberately obscure or block the vision of your strong left eye. Instead of holding the barrels with your thumb alongside the left barrels as normal, move your hand around the barrels so the meaty thumb pad is high and creates an obvious “blind spot.” A splinter forearm makes it easier to move your leading hand around the barrels. A barrel hand guard may also help you deliberately position your left hand high along the barrels. This positioning of the leading hand may be even easier with smaller gauge game guns like 20- and 28-bores.
Fourth, another way to shoot right-handed with a dominant left eye is to shoot a shotgun with a well-fitted, crossover stock. A shotgun that is fitted with a crossover stock resembles a radical hockey stock. The stock mounts from the right shoulder while the barrels align under the left eye. Expect to spend half a day or more with your gunfitter if you are going to be fitted for a crossover stock.
Finally, one of the most difficult yet tangible fixes is to learn to shoot “left-handed.” This solution is not easy to achieve. It will take your body and mind thousands of quality shots to make the muscle memory transition. You will also need a well-fitted shotgun made for you as a left-hander, plus a good coach to help you through the transition.
There you have it – a number of correctional efforts that you can consider for correcting cross-eye dominance. I look forward to hearing from you and learning which option works the best.
Got a shotgun question? Send it along to Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.