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Old March 1, 2009, 11:52 PM   #1
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Help with my son's predicament.

I took my 9 year old shooting today. I discovered something strange, but probably not uncommon. He is right handed and left eye dominant. If he lays his head in a wierd angle to the stock, he can knock cans down all day. If he shoots like I do, he can't hit the broad side of a barn.

Is there any info on how to train somebody like that? Does he just shoot left handed? If so, he says it feels wierd. He also can't shoot well when I had him shoot left handed.

Any recommendations are appreciated, especially from folks who may have the same issues.

Also- we are about to get him enrolled in 4H shooting. Any advice on this? Maybe they can help him with the issue. He is being raised in a shooting family. Some families play uno, some watch T.V., we go out and burn a couple hundred .22's when the opportunity presents itself, and momma's better by far than I (though she hasn't had all the fancy training I got, nor has she read any magazines, and comes from a left-wing nutjob household where guns and shooting are frowned upon).

Suggestions and info are appreciated!
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Old March 2, 2009, 12:09 AM   #2
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Did you try having him shoot lefty? It might be a little awkward, but probably no more so than the contortions he has to do shooting right handed. At nine, I would think that getting him used to shooting left handed might be easier than trying to force him to use the right eye. Who knows, he might end up being a pretty good shot with either hand which would be impressive in itself.

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Old March 2, 2009, 12:14 AM   #3
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He's the same as my brother who is right handed but left eye dominant... Let him shoot left handed... He should get used to shooting left handed in time... My brother became a good shot after we figured out, that he was in this predicament... My dad is left handed so the shooting transition was a non-issue...

Last edited by .300 Weatherby Mag; March 2, 2009 at 12:20 AM.
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Old March 2, 2009, 12:19 AM   #4
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My son has the same cross dominance issue, I noticed it when teaching him to shoot a rifle - immediately I had him switch and start shooting lefty, and by the end of the day he was shooting quite well. IMO it would be easier to learn the LH shooting position than it is to try retrain the other eye to be dominant and his hunter safety instructor agreed with me.

Yes, it will feel weird to him for a while if he has already learned to shoot right handed. But if that left eye always wants to take over it will affect him even more when he starts shooting a shotgun where it's important to keep both eyes open.
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Old March 2, 2009, 12:21 AM   #5
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Black out the dominate eye lens of a pair of shooting glasses and see if he can acclimate.
I am a born lefty but pops wouldn't let me shoulder a cap gun win94 toy lefty... he said "Boy if yer on a battle field and you run out of ammo as soon as yer buddy who just re-loaded you will swap out rifles..." To this day I shoot pistols, long guns and bow righty... even shooting pool and using scissors (they refused to buy me lefty scissors when in elementary school) I am 100% right handed but watch me try to feed my self with fork in right hand and laugh yer butt off... As for dominate eye I can't really say what I am as I shut left eye to aim and it may or may not be "true dominate" I am very good at trouble shooting and improvising so I may be a total fluke... (actually I prefer to be a fluke)...
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Old March 2, 2009, 02:08 AM   #6
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He'll figure it out,

If he is laying his head at an odd angle on the stock see if there would be some sort of mod that could be done to his rifle (if he has his own) to allow for a more comfortable stance.

Other options would be shooting left handed, with a bolt gun that can be a little tricky but most leftys seem to figure it out.
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Old March 2, 2009, 02:47 AM   #7
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G'day. Try a high mount scope or modified stock that has room for his head.
I think I would try the blacked out glasses as first choice' otherwise go lefty.
I'm R/H and eye, but I do shoot left eye from time to time. Some hunting situations call for unusual shots. I've even done L/H shots to upset my son who thinks he is a good shot.:barf:
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Old March 2, 2009, 03:41 AM   #8
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I had an eye injury to my right eye in high school, and when I recovered my eye dominance switched as I used my left eye to compensate during the injury. I never was able to make the switch back and besides ruining my future college baseball career, I couldn't hit any birds when hunting either.

I had to start remembering to close my left eye and only focus out of the right one, whether shotgunning or shooting. After awhile it became second nature to do so. Most people keep both eyes open over a shotgun, but I don't for that reason. With a rifle or handgun it doesn't matter so much, you usually use only one eye anyway to aim, but shotguns both are open.

It was heck of a lot easier to learn to close one eye than to learn to shoot left handed, at least for me. 30 years later it hasn't hurt my shooting any. Still do it.
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Old March 2, 2009, 04:12 AM   #9
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I happen to be a lefty that's right eyed dominant. Before entering the service I taught myself to shoot left handed with my left eye. It took some practice, but I was able to pull it off quite nicely. Then along came the military and they wanted me to shoot right handed. That actually worked out even better. I would get your son to start practicing shooting with his left hand. In the long haul he'll be better off for it. It's a more natural shooting arrangement that crossing over. After all these years I can now switch from left to right with little trouble. That makes it nice in the event my right arm is injured. He may not like it at first, but he can do it with practice.
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Old March 2, 2009, 05:43 AM   #10
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Im the same way, right handed for everything except shooting a rifle or shotgun. I just shoot left handed, I never had any problems.
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Old March 2, 2009, 05:49 AM   #11
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the only options besides left handed are high rise sights that would allow him to need less of an angle for sight aquisition, i have the same problem due to an eye injury but learned lefty .... best option left... alternative high rise optics or after market sights
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Old March 2, 2009, 06:21 AM   #12
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High Kjm,

The eye always dictates how to hold a rifle. You bring the rifle to the eye, not the eye to the rifle.

Canting the head gets it done for now but if/when he tries to shoot offhand he's going to have trouble. The head is cocked and this means the ears aren't level. Ears control balance and this will cause him problems. The ears should be level in all shooting positions actually.

Training the trigger finger isn't all that tough. Especially at this young age because he hasn't had a chance to really develop bad habits yet. Bolt manipulation is also easily taught. (watch the sniper guy from Saving Private Ryan; its an excellent example)

Spend a half hour working on some dry fire drills in the living room and he'll be a pro.

A great training aid for any junior shooter:

I worked for an old man that ran a whole slew of 4H and other junior shooter programs over the years.

Kids love to break things and they are in their prime right around the time guns become interesting. (fascinating that the two kinda parallel each other huh?)

Get yourself a Sam's Club box of animal crackers and a 2X4 and you have a full day of fun. Use a saw to rip a slot down the length of the board so that the bottom edge of the crackers will fit and you have yourself an instant back yard "animal cracker safari" or silhouette match.

Very cheap entertainment and as they improve you just move em back a little each time until it becomes a pneumatic Palma match.

Then switch to offhand, kneeling, and sitting.

The birds and squirrels like the crackers and that can also make for some interesting shooting. They then become bait for cats. (it's been my experience that its best if Mom is not around for this part of the training)
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Old March 2, 2009, 07:53 AM   #13
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My 9 y.o. son did the same thing, when I first started him into shooting, and he too didn't do well from the left shoulder - at first.

But........after I gave him a test for eye dominance, and found him to be left eye dominant, I persisted making him shoot from his left shoulder (I was the Dad ).
After more than a few range sessions, he got comfortable shooting lefty, and progressed to obtaining his first hunting license, etc.

He was better with, and is still a fan of, scoped rifles (.22's at first) - even though I trained him on open/iron sights, first.

My son still shoots from his left shoulder @ age 44, but has done most other things right-handed for quite a long time.

He is a much better shooter than me, and I'm no slouch - and he has always been absolutely deadly on game of any kind.
He even bow hunts the US/Canada with a left-handed Matthews bow.

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Old March 2, 2009, 09:33 AM   #14
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I'm right handed, but left eye dominant. I learned to shoot left handed. Funny thing, my father is a left handed, so it was a lot easier for him to teach me to shoot that way.
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Old March 2, 2009, 10:15 AM   #15
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I am right handed and left eye dominant. I simply close my left eye when shooting.
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Old March 2, 2009, 10:47 AM   #16
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I am RH/LED and have shot LH ever since I can remember. It feels sort of unnatural to shoulder a rifle RH. I shoot pistols RH and just bring it over to my LE.

From my experience it is usually easier to have someone switch sides than switch eyes.

This is especially true for a child that hasn't gotten in the habit of shooting one way or the other.

Teach the boy to shoot LH.
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Old March 2, 2009, 12:05 PM   #17
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I am right handed and left eye dominant. I simply close my left eye when shooting.
So do I. It would've been nice if my dad had taught me to shoot lefty, but he didn't... and I'm not about to change now, at a relatively advanced age...

This is what eyelids are for. See -- it works just fine.
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Old March 2, 2009, 12:22 PM   #18
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This must be a pretty common situation.
I was righty but left eye dominant and my father and grandfather made me switch to using my right eye. I seem to do fine with that nowdays.

My son started shooting at 5 and I noticed he was craning his chin over the stock to get his left eye behind the sights.
I just blacked out the inside of the left lens of his shooting glasses.

So far, he seems to be doing ok this way.
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Old March 2, 2009, 03:02 PM   #19
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I'm just like your son. Right handed and left eye dominant. Learned to shoot at camp when I was about 2 years older than him. Counselor was actually pretty knowledgeable about firearms and before we started had each of us determine what our dominant eye was. From that point on I've always shot rifles left handed. Been doing it off and on for 40 years now and I can't even imagine shooting right handed.

In fact, I've always thought of those of you shooting righty as being at a real disadvantage. When I shoot, my stronger right arm supports the weight of the gun, not my weaker left arm. Honestly, I don't know how you guys do it.

So my advice would be to have your son just shoot left-handed. It might feel awkward for a day or two, but he's young enough that he'll adapt very quickly.

Finally, just so you know, it's not like I'm almost ambidexterous. I've always done EVERYTHING else right handed. Played a lot of tennis as a teenager and after a couple of years my right forearm was noticiably larger than my left. Even today I would say my right arm is significantly stronger.
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Old March 2, 2009, 03:04 PM   #20
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Oh, and to add one more point, although I have no doubt that there are better marksman on this board - I'm a decent shot.
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Old March 2, 2009, 03:59 PM   #21
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I'm right handed and left eye dominant as well. my grandfather saw my problem when i was young and taught me to shoot with both of my eyes open, it works great for me ymmv
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Old March 2, 2009, 11:27 PM   #22
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Both eyes open seems to be the best way to train the right eye for shooting.

My girl friend is the same way. With pistols, she is fine. With rifles.... she can't hit anything. (Wears glasses and can't get down low enough to use the sights or scopes.)
However... we discovered that she can use a scoped AR just fine, as long as it's carry-handle mounted.
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Old March 2, 2009, 11:54 PM   #23
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Well I had the same problem, Im 18yrs old now and always have shot and did eveything else right handed and will continue to do so until I no-longer can.
I use contacts and when I'm shooting I just close my left eye, but can also keep it open and shoot just as well. so if your son thinks it feels uncomfortable to shoot lefty and will not shoot lefty(like me) just tell him to keep his left eye closed when shooting(an eyepatch will also work) and eventually he will learn to shoot well. probably able to shoot with both eyes.

anyways have fun and good luck
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Old March 3, 2009, 12:12 AM   #24
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O'l#1 was a lefty as is my daughter. If he shoots lefty, set him up for lefty.

In High School and Community College I had a friend that was truly ambidextreous. Really weird, he also shot lefty. Just roll with it.

BTW, my friend ended up with two PHD's.
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Old March 3, 2009, 10:56 AM   #25
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Sighting works just fine with either a dominant eye or a non dominant. Eye lines up through two sights and the target in a straight line. The only issue is if both eyes are open the brain will "see" the dominant eye's view over the other. Solution, just close the non dominant eye while taking a shot. Should be no problem for hunting or target shooting. Granted, tactical situations, SWAT, gunfights etc. it is important to not squint one eye closed. But that is not what your son is involved in.

My dad has this same issue. Right handed but left eye dominant.
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