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Know your dominant eye before you hunt that bird!


Uncle Grump

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Fellow FM'ers

I started out writing this post for The Bronco Kid, in his post on being a first time turkey hunter, but it occurred to me that others might benefit from this as well.

This is a biggie when it comes to shooting. Know which eye is your dominant eye and shoot to that side.

For most people - its one or the other - but some folks are equally dominant in either eye (they can shoot from either side - but they are few and far between). It may be opposite the "hand" you bat a ball or write from.

Case Study:
I teach firearms safety for the DNR. Last week, I did a field day for a gentleman who took the FAS home study course so that he could get a license to hunt turkey out of state (Missouri). While we were at the range, he asked about dominant eye - he knew he was left eye dominant, but shot right handed. I said shoot to your dominant eye. While shooting a .22 right handed - he was hitting the targets.

But then we switched to my shotgun and some turkey patterning targets I brought along. He shot 2-3 shots, using 1oz. trap loads, and barely put ANY pellets on the paper, much less in the vitals (head and neck). He wanted to accuse my shotgun and those 1oz. loads, but I had my X-full turkey choke in the gun, and I KNOW it prints on paper where its pointed with the turkey loads I use.

"Shoot lefthanded." He switched, and SHA-ZAM!!!! Instantly - he had killing patterns - and it didn't matter if it was a 1oz trap load or a 2oz turkey load. We repeated this process two more times - and had the same results each time. My student was incredulous.

Now - how to check for your domiant eye?

Single person method:
Extend either hand with your thumb up, and point your thumb at a distant object - have both eyes open when you do this, and focus, aligning your thumb with the distant object - much like you would align gun sites on a target. Now close one eye. Did your thumb "move"? If it didn't, your open eye is your dominant eye. If the object doesn't move with either eye closed, you are equally dominant in both eyes.

Two person method:
Have the person stand 6-8 ft away. Extend both your hands, overlapping your hands in such a way that an opening about the size of a quarter is left (fingers overlapping fingers and thumbs on each other) between your hands. Bring your overlapped hands up and find the persons nose. Focus there. The other person will be able to look thru the opening at your dominant eye. If the other person observes your hands moving, or if your hands center on your nose, you are equally dominant in both eyes.

Shoot to your dominant eye. "It feels goofy to shoot that way" you say. True, but only for the time it takes you to retrain your muscles. Practice picking up and mounting your firearm - for 15-20 minutes a day, for a couple of weeks. Point it at a target on a basement wall, etc (unloaded of course). Soon it will feel more natural. Then spend some time on the range shooting.

You might only get one shot at your bird or other game. You owe the game you are hunting the courtesy of a clean kill, and yourself the satisfaction of knowing you made a good shot. Don't screw it it up be handicapping yourself by shooting to the wrong eye/side.

Best of luck on your hunt.....

UG

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I can tell you first hand how important this is. I shot right handed for years. I was able to hit birds but was very inconsistant and not past 30 yrds.
I was at a baseball clinic when an instructor showed us hot to find your dominant eye (he had us make a circle with your thumb and forefinger on both hands. with your arms extended look at an object through your circle.Pull your hands to your face, keeping the object in the circle. your hands will go to your dominant eye.)
Well, I did it and all of the sudden the bells went off. I pcked up my shot gun and it was a totally different picture i was looking at. The first time on the skeet range I broke 13! LEFT HANDED.
I now consistant ly brake over 20 but more importantly enjoy hunting again. 2 of my kids are getting started shooting and the first thing I did was test them (1 was cross-dominant, 1 isn't)

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Depending on what hand you extend will determine which eye gives the illusion of your thumb moving. If you do both hands and both eyes, you'll get different results.

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Scco

I have to disagree with you. I wrote the post using my left thumb & single person method, and I am right eye dominant. Both eyes open, my thumb is on my object. I close my right eye - my thumb "moves", I close my left eye - my thumb stays put.

To do this correctly - you have to FOCUS with BOTH eyes open.

It works. Been teaching this for 17 yrs.

You should shoot with both eyes open as well. You will have your full perphieral vision that way.

UG

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Hey Uncle Grump!
Great advice! You said in your post that you're a firearm safety instructor. Drop me an email. I've got a question for you. Got something that may interest you for your classes.

[email protected]

------------------
Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati (When all else fails, play dead)

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I'll give another vote to the importance of shooting from your dominant eye. I'm right-handed but left eye dominant, shot right-handed for years with my left eye closed. Just aiming down the gun barrell right-handed, I could see the point of impact "move" depending on whether I had both eyes open or only my right eye open.

It didn't take long to learn how to shoot left-handed. Practice shouldering and aiming the gun at home, practice shouldering and aiming the gun while walking through the cover while hunting. Sporting clays and skeet really helped how quickly I could adjust my aim. I am a far, far better shot now then when I was shooting right-handed.

Here's another benefit - now that I can shoot with either hand, it's a lot easier to deer hunt from a treestand. Doesn't matter where the deer is, I can find a comfortable position to aim and shoot from.

Another way to find your dominant eye is to take a piece of paper (cardboard is better). Put a small hole in the center of the paper - pushing a pen or pencil through the paper will work perfectly. Hold the paper in both hands, with your arms extended away from you. With both eyes open, look through the hole and focus on something. Keeping both eyes open and the object in view through the hole, bring the paper towards you until it touches your nose. The hole will be over your dominant eye. Another way to test this is to hold the paper out and keep both eyes open, and focus through the hole. Cover your left eye, and then cover your right eye. If while covering one eye, the object moves or is no longer visible through the hole, that is your dominent eye.

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I'm left eye dominant and shoot right handed and at the age of 47 I'm not changing over to a lefty gun!! If I had every duck and pheasant that I've shot over the years in a pile it would - be alot!! Of course I miss a few, but doesn't everyone?
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I stand corrected, you're right Uncle Grump, my bad. I just did it again and it worked. I must have been doing something wrong, or in too much of a hurry. Thanks for the advice.

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Black Jack

You needn't switch to a lefty gun. My eldest son is left eye dominant, but does everything else right handed. When he bought his first shotgun, he picked up a right handed 870. He shoots fine with it.

Bottom eject guns are also a option. I bought a Ithaca 37 for him to use when he first started to hunt with me.

If you can shoot right handed while left eye dominant - more power to you. But I'll bet you have to close your left eye to do so, and that limits your field of vision. And you'll never know what you aren't seeing thru that closed eye. Peripheral vision is very important when you shoot.

Best of luck to you

UG

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I tried all the tests ya guys said. I think I'm right eye dominant but finger tests always go to left and right of object. I'll point at somthing close left eye finger is pointing to left, close right eye finger points to the right. Are there some people that don't have a dominant eye? Iknow I've got excelent vision (doc told me it's better than anyone the armed services has ever tested). Guess the reason I believe I'm righteyed is I can feel a pysical strain on my right eye when I look at something with both eyes open.

GRIZ

[This message has been edited by psegriz (edited 04-16-2004).]

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Griz

There are some people who are equally strong in both eyes so far as dominance.

To the best of my knowledge, the strength of your vision - ie 20/20 has nothing to do with dominance. Any opthamologists out there?

Have you tryed the method described by Fishin5? That might work better for you than that which I described. If you do that method, and consistantly come back to one eye, that eye would be your dominant eye.

UG

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