Determining which is your dominant eye

man shooting gun

Shotgun shooting is a two-eyes-open challenge. It’s called pointing, not aiming, and it is all about focusing on a moving target and quickly, without acquiring a bulls eye, pointing the barrel of the shotgun, in a moving action, into the path of the target.

The field of view, the speed, and the distance, are all parts of the equation, and that means two eyes open.


But it also requires a dependence on one’s master, or dominant eye. That’s right, although both eyes are open, one is the boss, and it is the eye that must, without question, be looking right down the shotgun barrel.

The result is that where the dominant eye goes, so goes the barrel.

From the Outdoor Hub, a reliable news source, comes this explanation written by Gina Sanders.

Eye dominance is a phenomenon that comes up frequently in shooting sports, but what exactly is it? Although many of us have one eye that is stronger than the other in terms of vision, that is actually not the root of eye dominance.

The prescription from your optometrist or the corrective lenses you wear play no role whatsoever in determining which eye to keep open when firing. Instead, eye dominance exists on a neurological level. It is actually a better developed optic nerve that creates a dominant eye, and not all optic nerves are created equal.

Sanders goes on to say when it comes to shooting, regardless of weapon, determining your prevailing eye can be useful to improve your overall skills.


Being a right-handed shooter, for instance, does not make you right eye dominant. There are plenty of people who are left eye dominant despite being right-handed (or vice versa), which creates a situation known as cross-dominance.

The results of having anything less than a dependable dominant eye can be frustrating.
Here’s an example. I like to shoot trap. A round of trap, usually shared with other shooters, consists of five stations from which the shooter attempts to break five thrown targets. I usually do pretty good the first round and sometimes well into the second round by then I start missing shots.

I’ve determined that indeed, my master eye gets tired, and when it happens my other eye takes over and it is looking everywhere but down the barrel of my shotgun. My remedy is to place a small piece of transparent tape on the left lens my eyeglasses.

That simple tactic requires my right eye to stay in charge because my left eye can’t bring the target into focus. Works like a charm.


Sanders says it is possible to basically trick your eyes in order to better use your natural dominant eye. In order to determine your dominant eye, locate an object that is at least 10 feet away from you. Raise your arm and make a circle with your thumb and index finger, using both eyes to position it so you can see the object in the center of the circle.

Close one eye at a time and watch to see what the image does. If the object on which you are focused appears out of the circle when a certain eye is closed, that is your dominant eye.

Another method is to follow the same steps but instead of closing either eye, draw your hand slowly back toward your face. You should find that your hand will reflexively favor your dominant eye.

Most people will find that they are right eye dominant, while others may have no dominance at all.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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