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Learning to Shoot with your Weak Hand - Firearms Training

 

When you go to shooting school there are a number of things you will learn before you ever fire a shot. One important thing you will be taught is how to determine which eye is your dominant eye and to shoot with the correlating hand.

How to determine eye dominance

Your dominant eye is the one that looks directly at an object. It is easy to determine. Extend your arms with your palms facing straight ahead. Bring your hands together with your thumbs facing one another. Overlap your fingertips and thumbs to form a triangle of space. Next, select an object in the distance and look at it through the hole formed by your hands. Now close your right eye. If you can still see the object, you are left eye dominant. If you can no longer see the object, you are right eye dominant.

If you are right handed, but left eye dominant (or vice-versa) this is called cross dominance. It is simply the situation that occurs when your dominant eye and dominant hand are on opposite sides of your body. Determining eye dominance is important because of the variance in depth perception when you are looking at a target versus looking at your gun sight.

There are a number of techniques shooters with cross dominance can practice and still use their strong hand. You can close the dominant eye thus focusing with the eye which is on the same side as the dominant hand. The shooter can try placing a small piece of scotch tape on the dominant eye lens of their shooting glasses. This blurs the dominant eye and forces your weak eye to take over. Another technique includes shifting the gun toward the weak-handed side so the sight is in front of the dominant eye. These techniques can be used with pistol and become effective with lots of practice.


There are a couple reasons it is invaluable to learn to shoot with your weak, non-dominant, hand. One is to be able to keep both eyes open. In regard to long gun shooting moving your head or shifting the gun to get your dominant eye behind the sights as you would with a pistol is simply impossible.

Left handed shooter has sight in line with dominant left eye

Shooting with both eyes open can be important for hunting, target shooting and personal protection. If you are pheasant hunting or target shooting, you can see the bird, or clay, as it launches from your weak side. The peripheral vision gives you an added amount of time to mount your gun and acquire your target. The same can be said in personal protection. If you have to close your eye, you may not see another attacker coming from the side. Having both eyes open gives you a greater field of vision.

I am mentioning eye dominance because it seems, my dominant eye has changed over the years. It is becoming more difficult for me to shoot moving targets.

Here is the problem. If you put the shotgun in line with your dominant eye and have both eyes open, you see a smooth line down the barrel and the sight at the end. Try switching hands and mount the gun in front of your non-dominant eye. Open both eyes and look down the barrel.  The view is almost one of double vision. The barrel may appear crisscrossed with two sights at the end. This is one reason you end up having to close an eye to shoot.

I decided to learn to shoot with both hands. I took my pistol, rifle and shotgun to the range to attempt shooting with my weak hand. Overall the shooting went well. I had a fairly good grouping with both the pistol and rifle. I thought the shotgun would be the challenge of the trio, but I was pleasantly surprised as I shattered eight out of ten clays.

With the pistol I fumbled around a bit when I approached the line to practice. The grip felt awkward as my right hand fought to be in charge. Next, my thumbs had a challenge as they argued with the safety. My muscle memory told my right thumb to flip the safety. With the new grip, the left was in the way. I took my time and worked this out. Next, I practiced releasing the magazine.

When I felt safe and comfortable with my new grip I sent a few rounds down range. The trigger-pull felt fine, and my shot grouping was fairly good. The most difficult undertaking of live fire was the old habit of closing my left eye. Ultimately, it was the muscle-memory from years of shooting that presented the largest challenge.

Shooting the rifle offered no huge obstacles. I shot from a bench and remained steady. After this experiment I believed shotgun would be the most difficult since I would be shooting at moving targets.

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I practiced mounting and swinging the shotgun before going to live fire. I had to place the opposite foot forward which opened up my stance, allowing me to swing through with ease. I was able to focus with both eyes open much easier than I had at the pistol range. I felt more relaxed in my movement and confident in my shots.

At the shotgun range, I was using a Beretta Silver Pigeon 12 gauge. I have used this gun over the years and have always been able operate the break action with ease. When I switched to my left hand, I was a bit awkward opening the action and catching the spent shells with my right hand.

After this personal test, I am certain anyone can practice and become quite proficient with both eyes open using their weak hand.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Clay Shooting, a Beginner’s Thoughts

 

By Keith Hollar – Guest Contributor

I wanted to chronicle some of the things that I have been learning as I start my journey into the world of clay shooting and bird hunting.

Even though I’ve been shooting for over 20 years I’ve only shot at flying targets a couple of times before.  I had some friends that enjoyed clay shooting that took me along a few times and gave me some basic instructions, but it didn’t really help me understand what I was doing, wrong and right.  I wasn’t very successful at breaking the clays those times.  Recently I’ve been able to go with someone who has been shooting at clays for a while and was able to explain things to me that made a light bulb go off in my head.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned while shooting trap and skeet; when shooting a field gun in trap you need to cover the clay with the barrel to get a hit, also in trap you want to hit the target while it is still rising, in skeet the leads are for station 1 = 1 foot, 2 = 2 feet, 3 = 3feet, 4 = 4 feet, 5 = 3 feet, 6 = 2 feet, 7 = 1 foot, and of course with both keep the barrel going.  Now these may not be huge revelations to most of you but I’ve never had anyone explain these things to me in such clear terms.

The next lessons have to do with the shotgun itself.  Since I’m used to shooting rifles I got into the habit of bringing the weapon to my shoulder and then bringing my head down to the sights.  That works fine for a rifle, but not a shotgun.  What you want to do is bring the shotgun up to the eye, then mount it to the shoulder.  I’ve found this works lots better getting the sighting rib aligned correctly.  Also you need to make sure the shotgun fits you.  I purchased a nice used side by side shotgun and took it to a local guy who was recommended to me to have the butt stock shortened to fit my arms.  Now that I’ve had it cut to a length of pull of 14 1/8” (including the new recoil pad) it now mounts quicker and feels more natural.

Now I’m not ready to be taking on a competition but I have noticed my scores improving each time I go.  I hope to be able to get more proficient and consistent and also try sporting clays and other more difficult clay sports.

One last piece of advice, don’t worry too much about not breaking all of the targets at first, even if you’re shooting with guys that complain about shooting a 24.  Everyone started at the beginning.  I know that is something that was difficult for me to do at first.  I know I need to concentrate of making sure I’m doing things right in order to hit the target.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent those of Beretta.


Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Embarking On A Waterfowl Journey

 
(by Brad Wilson - guest contributor)

It was a warm September morning. The sun was due up in a couple of hours, and what we like to call “The Rebirth of an Addiction” was about to take place. The boat was parked in a cane break that harbored what we would soon find out to be a waterfowler’s dream. About an hour to legal shooting time, we decided to go ahead and throw out the decoys and get set up. The spread was going to be large and very inviting. We had just over 15 dozen blocks of various species tossed out and bobbing up and down with every ripple of the salt water beneath them. As time grew nearer, the feeling inside was comparable to your first kiss but with a slight difference. See, this feeling was familiar but never ceases to change when this time of year rolls around. It is a feeling that you have been looking forward to since the last day of the previous season, and it is something that non-hunters could never understand. An addiction. A feeling. A passion. The morning ended with full straps of Blue Wing Teal and little did we know was a true sign of things to come.

My name is Brad Wilson, and I am just your average Joe that grew up in an industrial town just outside of Houston, Texas called Baytown. I was raised as an outdoorsman by an outdoorsman. My dad was an avid deer hunter and we shared many cool Texas mornings in a deer stand in the piney woods of deep East Texas chasing that elusive wall hanger that so many have a yearning for. It wasn’t until the age of 21 that I was introduced to waterfowl hunting by a really close friend that I worked with. Matt is still like a brother to me, and we are blessed to be able to get out in the field together a few times a season. From then on there was no looking back. I have hunted ducks and geese all along the Texas Coast every season since. I am also an avid fisherman and will get a line wet every chance I get whether it is chasing speckled trout and redfish in Trinity Bay or black bass and crappie on Lake Sam Rayburn. I have an extremely understanding, beautiful, and loving wife, 2 awesome sons that I share my passion for the outdoors with religiously, and 2 labrador retrievers that are not only my duck dogs but family as well. I shoot a Beretta A400 Xtreme, have recently been drawn to reloading my own shells, and run a JB Custom duck call on a Cut Em Custom Lanyard that I made myself. God, family, my country, hunting, fishing, and guns are the things in life that I love in that very order with the last three running hand in hand with each other.

I was very blessed to be asked to write for the Beretta USA Blog, and I look forward to sharing as I “Embark On A Waterfowl Journey” over the next few months. I hope you enjoy!

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

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