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Knowing which eye is dominant is really important for people who are starting out shooting. Unless you're ambidextrous, you probably prefer to do most things with one hand over the other. However, don't be fooled as your dominant eye may not be the same as your dominant hand.
When you mount the shotgun with the hand you consider to be dominant, the aiming eye is directly over the barrel and looking in line towards where you want to shoot. For a lot of people you can shoot with both eyes open which may allow you to locate your target.
But if you don't know which eye is dominant and find when shooting you're too ahead or behind the target but still feel like your aim is in line, it could be that your dominant eye is actually opposite to your dominant hand.
What happens when you aren’t lined up with your dominant eye?
For example if you are left-eye dominant but your right hand is dominant you may choose to shoot with your right hand due to your left side feeling less coordinated or lacking the strength. If you're shooting in this way with both eyes open they're going to “fight” each other and you'll always hit left of the target. This is because your left eye will always take over. You may also find you tilt your head more to the right when shooting. You can make two simple changes to ensure your left eye isn't taking control:
1. Close the dominant eye - this will make sure you're hitting the target
2. Put a small thumbnail patch of translucent tape over the left lens of your glasses. This will allow you to shoot with both eyes open but because it’s blurred over the left eye it will result in your right eye becoming dominant whilst shooting.
When a shooter aims with their non-dominant eye, their shots will go to the left or right of the target. This is because your sight isn't properly aligned with the target, even though they may appear to be from the shooter’s perspective.
In this photo you can see the difference between a right hand shoot with a left and right dominant eye. The off eye (dominate eye) affects the brains perceptions of the target's true position so you're more likely to shoot to one side.
How do you find out which your dominant eye is?
There are a few easy tests you can do to work out which is your dominant eye.
Take your hands, palms facing away from you and make a small triangle with your hands opening in between your index fingers and thumbs.
1. Hold out your arms at full extension and locate an object nearby.
2. With both eyes open keep the object in sight for both eyes in the middle of your triangle.
3. Bring your hands to your face. If you have a dominant eye, the opening will end up only over that eye.
4. Test this a few times until you're sure which one is dominant. Some people won't have a dominant eye and in this case you can choose.
If you're still unsure you could ask your local Gun club instructor to do a gun fitting to ensure you're comfortable when shooting. Once you have this established you'll have an easier time shooting and on your way to hitting all your targets!