Should I start to close an eye when shooting?
Adam Calvert advises an older gun
Q: As an older Gun I sometimes struggle with my eyesight. I shoot off my right shoulder but my left eye is strong and my right eye is getting weaker. I have always shot with both eyes open but I am wondering whether I should start to close one eye – or is there a way to keep both eyes open and still be accurate with my shooting?
A: I am a massive believer that if you can’t see it then you definitely can’t shoot it. The number of clients I see who will happily put their glasses on to drive but then remove them to shoot amazes me. My first recommendation would be to go and see a good optician. If you are particularly worried about your shooting, then I strongly recommend you go and see Ed Lyons as he will allow you to bring your gun into his practice so he can see the full picture. It is important to make sure that if you are shooting in a particular pair of glasses that the prescription in those glasses is used correctly and you are looking through the focal point and that the frame is not obscuring your view down the gun. In addition, I would make sure they are comfortable to wear beneath ear defenders and that they don’t fall off after every shot, which can be incredibly frustrating when you are in the thick of the action.
Assuming you have now got a decent pair of shooting glasses, if you have been to visit Ed he will have told you which eye is dominant. If you haven’t, then I recommend finding a good shooting instructor to help you work this out. I come across lots of misdiagnosed eye-dominance issues, usually relating to poor gunfit, so make sure that you are comfortable with your eye-dominance status.
Next, I would investigate the gun; you mention that you are getting older so perhaps now is the time to move to an over-under if you aren’t already using one. Whether we like it or not, the over-under with its single sighting plane is easier to shoot as it naturally draws the eye up the gun. This can be emphasised if we are struggling with eye-dominance problems.
Finally, we consider if you should be shutting the left eye, or some kind of system to remove the eye from the equation. This is a last resort for me, especially if you have never shut any eye as it can take quite a while to get used to doing so, especially in the heat of the moment. There are various methods to deal with eye dominance: shutting an eye, obscuring with a patch or using tape on glasses, or alterations through prescription, all of which are well documented.
My personal view is that I am not a fan of gadgets that are attached to the gun. They certainly have their uses if you are shooting clays gun up, but I question their effectiveness if you are shooting game gun down. I cannot stress enough, however, that if you are going through this on your own it can be a mind-blowing and depressing journey, so I strongly recommend you find a good shooting instructor to help you through this whole process.