I’ve heard it said that if you want to be a good shooter, you have to shoot using your dominant eye. For years, I’ve ignored this piece of advice, and have been shooting right handed even though I am left-eye dominant (and also left-handed). I am now trying to decide if I should switch to shooting with the right side, by which I mean the left side.
I’ve been shooting right handedly for a number of reasons, but comfort and convenience are the two main ones. I simply feel more comfortable shooting right handedly, and I think this habit was developed when I first started shooting rifles in our basement, using an air rifle my dad had built me. Being left handed, I’m sure my dad gave me the option of shooting lefty, and I probably tried it, but it never stuck. Shooting right handedly is also convenient because most rifles are designed for righties, and I don’t have to get anything special. Sure, the AR (which I shoot most of these days) is ambidextrous, but the mag release is hard to get to, especially when all slung up, under time pressure, and with a CA-legal bullet button (where you have to guide a pointy tool into a small hole). Shooting right-handed bolt rifles lefty is outright awkward.As far as I can tell, my shooting isn’t limited by my eyesight yet. My left eye is considerably better than my right, but with glasses, the difference is diminished. There’s also the thing about being able to keep both eyes open if you shoot out of your dominant eye, but in competitions, you can put a blind over the other eye and with a little practice, you can train to “see” out your non-dominant eye too. And practically speaking, my scores haven’t plateaued yet, I don’t think. In my club matches, I’ve been shooting around 89-91%, which, has plenty of room for improvement, but is also markedly higher than the 42% I shot in my first match 2 years ago. In my last club match, I shot a 188 in slow prone, with 13 of the 20 shots in the 10 ring. I feel like if my eyes let me put 13 of 20 shots in the 10 ring, it’s good enough to get the remaining 7 shots in the 10 ring too. On the 600 yard line at the State championships, I shot a 172-6x, and I feel like my inability to read wind correctly was a bigger issue than my eye sight. On top of all that, I’ve been shooting in a flimsy cotton shirt, and I’m quite certain that using a good shooting jacket will improve my scores considerably, perhaps enough to get me into the Master range (94%+).
It all might come down to how hard I’m willing to work, and how far I want to go. Maybe I can make Master shooting right handedly, with a good jacket and ample practice. Can I make High Master? Can I become a nationally ranked shooter? Maybe, but I don’t know. To some degree, this is a race against time. I’m not old, but I’m 29; past my physical peak. Every year that I wait to find out whether I should switch, is a year in which my learning ability atrophies, a year in which my eye sight worsens, a year less I spend shooting using the correct hand. On the other hand, I’m very weary of starting from scratch when I’ve come so far. I’m not sure I have the patience, the perseverance, and the time to get as good shooting left handedly as I do right handedly. Right now, I’m thinking of compromising and continuing to shoot Service Rifle right handedly, but spend some time shooting lefty using my .22 Kimber 82 match rifle. Hopefully, that way, if I hit a wall shooting right handedly in a few years, I would’ve laid enough ground work that I won’t have to start completely from scratch shooting lefty.