Mike Morton explains ocular dominance and how it relates to your shooting…
Q. I’m left-handed, but my shooting buddy reckons I should work out which eye is my dominant one and switch to shooting my rifle from that side. How can I tell – and is he correct?
A. Ocular dominance is the tendency to prefer the visual input from one of our eyes over the other. The term is used when we’re talking about someone whose visual acuity is roughly the same in both eyes, but one eye will nevertheless be their preferred eye.
This is somewhat linked to whether a person is right- or left-handed, but isn’t always the case. I’m right-handed, for example, but I’m left-eye dominant.
There’s a simple test you can do to determine which eye your brain favours. Extend your arms out in front of you and create a triangular opening between your thumbs and forefingers by placing your hands together at a 45-degree angle. Overlap your hands and slowly move them inwards so the triangular opening gets smaller and smaller – the smaller the opening, the more accurate the result will be. Keeping both eyes open, centre this triangular opening on a distant object, such as a bush or tree. Close one eye. If the object stays centred, the eye that’s still open is your dominant eye. If the object is no longer framed inside the triangular opening made by your hands, then the other eye is your dominant eye.
Why is this important to the shooter? Well, the dominant eye will more accurately relay information about the location of an object – in our case, a target. Some shooting coaches believe we should therefore shoot our rifles when sighting them with our dominant eye, regardless of whether we’re right- or left-handed. If you’re right-handed and right-eye dominant, for example, then that’s the end of the discussion – but that won’t be the case for everyone.
Because of my own left-eye dominance, one coach insisted I shoulder the rifle and shoot left-handed, even though I’m right-handed. To be honest, it wasn’t as hard to adapt to as I’d expected. But another coach threw out this idea, instead saying gun fit, hold and comfort were the vital ingredients.
Being aware of your ocular dominance is important when you track a moving target while shooting a shotgun, but less important when shooting an air rifle at a static target.