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Ask the Instructor: Can Eye Dominance Change?

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

Question: Can eye dominance change throughout your lifetime?

Answer: Yes, but I would describe it as a shift rather than a change in dominance.

We rarely see a person’s eye dominance “flip flop” from one side to the other. There are two times during the span of our life when eye dominance may shift. The first is during puberty and the second is later in life, starting at about age 45 or so. Once through puberty, eye dominance tends to solidify and remain fairly constant. Then again in our late 40s or after, a shooter who has enjoyed a consistent eye dominance status may notice subtle changes in their dominance that cause certain unexplained misses. This situation may be exacerbated when one is tired or a heavy computer user.

There are a couple of commonly held misconceptions about eye dominance. The first is that all people are either left or right eye dominant. The fact is that only about 20-25% of the population is solidly dominant in the left or right eye. So most of the population is “more right” or “more left” rather than solidly right or left. There is a also a small percentage of the population that fall into a wholly different category called “center ocular”. In these cases, the person is neither more right nor more left. Simply put, the great majority of the population is not 100% dominant in one eye or the other but instead has some degree of “pull” or shift from the other eye.

The second misconception is that eye dominance is a function of visual clarity. The term “eye dominance” is really a misnomer because it is not merely the eye that sees and responds to a moving target. It is the “visuo motor system”. Our “visuo motor system” is comprised of the eye, optic nerve, brain and nervous system and it is this system that sees, interprets and reacts to targets, not merely our eyes. So what does all this mean for your shooting? This is a completely individualized question. The most common complaint I hear from shooters who believe they have an eye dominance issue effecting gun placement is that they have trouble with targets coming from the side opposite their shooting shoulder. For right-handed skeet shooters, the problem target is high house #2. For left-handed shooters, it is low house #6.

If you think you may have an eye dominance issue affecting your shooting performance, book some time with a NSCA or NSSA certified instructor knowledgeable about eye dominance. Don’t jump to conclusions, however. The issue may not be eye dominance at all, but might instead be gun fit or your gun mount.

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