Meridian Star

December 13, 2013

Determining eye dominance

By Otha Barham / Outdoors Editor
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Every now and then I get someone inquiring how to determine which is their dominant eye. I recently had such request via E-mail. This is such a critical issue for a shooter, that we have to be sure every shooter knows how to determine eye dominance. So what difference does it make, one might ask. Well, read on. I once missed one of the finest bucks I have ever seen by six feet at a distance of 20 yards because my dominant eye stole the sight picture. How?

    Here's how. With an open sighted rifle (no scope) I threw up the gun right handed and my left (dominant) eye took over. Once you understand eye dominance and how you determine it, this miss will explain itself. But here it is in words.

    With both eyes open, which is the proper way to shoot at game, I aligned the sights (rear and front sights) with my right eye looking straight down the barrel of the 30.30 lever action rifle, placing the front sight bead on the rib cage of the buck. In the understandable excitement and rush, my left eye (my dominant one) took over and saw the front bead on the buck. This instantly resulted in the rear sight being to the right, thus causing my shot to hit well left of the buck.

    “But you carefully aimed down the barrel with your right eye,” you argue. Yes. But an interesting phenomenon happened here which is the fly that finds himself in the ointment. No human eye can focus on three things at three distances at once. Ah ha! So if you are looking at the spot on the deer you want to hit (which you should), and at the front sight, (which you should), guess what gets ignored in this little triple option story? You got it! The rear sight becomes nothing but a blur, thus easily ignored by the lead eye. The dominant eye, in this case my left one, sees what it really likes; a front bead on a monster buck, and it tells the brain to hit that trigger. Remember this all happens in approximately one second.

    So my wall hanger was frightened by some thunder and a bunch of dirt and leaves jumping up in front of him and he sprinted off to less noisy woods and out of my life forever.

    Stop right here and make yourself believe this. Point your finger at arms length at some small object; a door knob, a photograph of Jennifer Anniston, a squirrel nest or a distant chimney top. Face the object squarely as you point, both eyes open. Now, without moving your pointing finger, close one eye and then open it and close the other eye. When one of your eyes is closed, your pointing finger will appear to jump to one side of the object, while the other eye when closed will not cause the finger to move at all. Doing this a few times will show you which is your dominant eye.

    To further confirm which eye is dominant, perform this easy maneuver. Extend all fingers on both hands as if trying to keep Dick Butkas from running you over. Extend both arms straight out in front of your face with hands turned upward. Move your hands together with both index fingers touching and both thumbs touching, overlapping them a bit until the “hole” they form is the size of a lemon. View your object through this opening and slowly bring the “hole” back to your eyes keeping the object visible through the opening. Your hands will surround your dominant eye.

    Now, how can I use this information? Check here next week.