This far into the season, you should be dialed in, and so should your dog. In fact, he’s firing on all eight cylinders, breaking ice, beating through cattails, making 300-yard casts in the uplands and finally, finally, sitting quietly in the blind.
But you. You’re still not hitting them.
You might be cross-dominant. No, I don’t mean wearing a dress if you’re a guy or a suit if you’re a woman. Your “off” eye might be stronger than the one looking down your gun barrel. If you miss a lot and all to one side, you might be one of the ten percent of us (me included) who need to cope with this.
Are you one of us? Here’s a simple test: Keep both eyes open, extend one arm, index finger pointing up as if it’s a rifle sight. Look over your “sight” and put an object across the room on top of it. Close the eye that normally looks down your gun barrel (shooting right-handed, your right eye). If the object stays on top of your “sight,” you’re cross dominant. If it jumps to one side, you are shooting with your gun on the wrong shoulder.
Depending on your motivation and self-discipline, take your pick of these solutions:
**1) ** Learn to shoot with the opposite eye and shoulder
**2) ** Shut your dominant eye while shooting (good luck)
**3) ** Wear shooting glasses and put a patch over your dominant eye
The patch method eliminates a summer’s worth of frustration while learning to shoot again (or in my case, two summers). It also lets you focus (pardon the pun) on the bird, not trying to remember to close your eye while shooting. The key is careful placement of your patch.
Use a one-inch piece of transparent (Scotch) tape. Put it on your shooting glasses’ dominant eye lens so that when you mount your gun, the muzzle is obscured by the patch. It’s not the perfect solution (hard crossers from your dominant eye side will still be tough) but it beats the alternatives. You’ll also contend with rain on the lenses on a duck hunt, or fogging on a high altitude chukar hunt. But it’s still better than missing.
Whether you are or aren’t cross-dominant, try to keep both eyes open. Shotgunning is a pointing skill, not an aiming skill. Unlike rifle shooting, we don’t line up the back sight and the front sight, because there is no back sight, except for our eye. Ideally, we’re focusing on the bird, not the gun muzzle, nor the beads on our barrel if there are any.
And give that dog a treat for putting up with your bad shooting.