Starting out a young shooter, who's left eye dominant. Got questions..

sheepdawg

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Nov 21, 2016
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I am a father of two young boys, ages 11 and 8 and both are learning to shoot rifles and bows. My 11 year old is left eye dominant but the 8 year old is not. I was able to purchase them a left hand bow and right hand bow respectively, but it is hard as hell to find a left hand compact bolt action rifle. I am a die hard model 70 fan and winchester does not offer left handed rifles but they offer right handed actions in a compact. Should I train my left eye dominant son to shoot with his right eye? or should I just have him shoot left hand with a right hand rifle? A full size rifle's LOP is too long for him and 24" barrels are too heavy. The compact fit just right but I have no idea if I should just have him shoot the compact right handed rifle for 3 years and then pass it to his brother and get him a left handed full size rifle at that point? Would having a right handed rifle for 3 years and then switching to a left hand rifle effect his learning development? I am taking him antelope hunting next year year when he turns 12 and we are starting to shoot weekly to prepare him for the hunt. Any input would be appreciated.
 

codyadams

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Absolutely let him shoot left handed, reguardless of what rifle he uses.

Being a southpaw myself, and also a father with a 7 year old boy that is right handed but EXTREMLY left eye dominant, and also a firearms instructor for my county Sheriff's Department, unless the eye dominance is almost nuetral, you want to teach them to be whatever hand their eye dominance is. You can teach them to switch hands, eye dominance can't really be trained.

With my son, I have had to teach him left handed. He has eye issues, his eye perscription is a +8 in his "good" eye, and a +9.25 in his right, and he absolutely can't use his right eye for anything, so he has had to learn left handed, but is doing fantastic. I tried for an hour at the range, and he never could even see anything through a scope with his right eye. Tried switching to left hand, immediately was able to see and hit what he was aiming at.

Another thing, since he is left eye dominante as well as left handed, it will be good for him to learn to shoot right handed guns. Growing up left handed, it is good to learn to shoot right handed guns, as well as left handed. On a bolt gun, he would just use his right hand to work the action, the reach over the scope thing is a pita and slows you way down. Learning to use a left handed gun is easy too. So, teach him on a right handed gun, then when he is old enough for a full sized rifle, get him a lefty, and he will know universally.

Keep in mind, when he starts using semi autos, ar-15 type rifles need a shell deflector, and even then I end up with small cuts and marks on my cheek from the case mouths at trainings where we shoot a lot of rounds. With shotguns, if ammo is dirty at all, I need to wear glasses because otherwise I end up getting powder residue in my eyes. I never really had any issues with .22's, they tend to throw them strait out to the side.
 
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sheepdawg

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Nov 21, 2016
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Thank you sir. Much appreciated. I too was my PD's range master, til I retired a couple of years ago and I knew enough to have left eye dominant shooters shoot left handed but my dept only had AR15s and not bolt guns, so I had no reference. My only friend that is a left eye dominant, said his dad made him shoot right eye and right handed guns because that was just the way it was in the 70s. Great point on semi autos. My son has an AR 15 but he hasn't shot it yet and only have shot his 10-22. You are correct that they tend to throw them straight out.

OBTW. Shot a great shiras moose outside of Evanston last year with my son present. Took me 17 points as a non resident. Beautiful country and even nicer people. Looking at maybe buying some land around there as soon as my wife retires.

Thanks again. Stay safe brother.
 

Frog4aday

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Oct 25, 2007
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My son is an anomaly. He does most things right handed, so I bought him a Ruger 77/22 to learn with & cut the stock to fit him. Off to the range we go and...he throws the rifle up to his left shoulder. Long story short, that is what feels right & natural to him. No problem. He reaches over the gun to work the bolt & it doesn't bother him. Go figure. And since he shoots from his left side, he simply closes his right eye, even though that is his dominant eye. He shoots well, hits what he wants & it works for him.

Eye dominance is not an issue unless we make it an issue. They just have to shoulder and shoot whichever side feels correct & close the eye not being used. Seriously. That's all there is to it.

Having said that, some kids have AMBLYOPIA, which means one eye literally doesn't SEE as well as the other. This is not an eye dominance thing, per se, but for these kids you must train them to shoot from whichever side has the "good" eye. So a right handed kid who has amblyopia in the right eye is best trained to shoot from the left side. Yes, its awkward at first. It'll take some time. But it is for the best that they learn to shoot using their best seeing eye.

Hopefully this made sense. Eye dominance matters little when both eyes can see equally well because a person can shoot from whichever side feels right and natural and simply close the eye not being used. But a person with amblyopia has one "good" eye & that is the eye they should use, no matter what & that might mean shooting from the non-dominant shoulder/side of body. It just takes training & time.
 

Warrenoliver

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Mar 16, 2020
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I am a father of two young boys, ages 11 and 8 and both are learning to shoot rifles and bows. My 11 year old is left eye dominant but the 8 year old is not. I was able to purchase them a left hand bow and right hand bow respectively, but it is hard as hell to find a left hand compact bolt action rifle. I am a die hard model 70 fan and winchester does not offer left handed rifles but they offer right handed actions in a compact. Should I train my left eye dominant son to shoot with his right eye? or should I just have him shoot left hand with a right hand rifle? A full size rifle's LOP is too long for him and 24" barrels are too heavy. The compact fit just right but I have no idea if I should just have him shoot the compact right handed rifle for 3 years and then pass it to his brother and get him a left handed full size rifle at that point? Would having a right handed rifle for 3 years and then switching to a left hand rifle effect his learning development? I am taking him antelope hunting next year year when he turns 12 and we are starting to shoot weekly to prepare him for the hunt. Any input would be appreciated.
I'm left handed and left eye dominant and for many years shot only right handed guns. I now have a left handed bolt action 280AI and right handed tikka t3x 6.5 creedmoor. Have him handle the tikka 6.5 creedmoor, it comes in left or right handed models. 6.5 is a sweet shooting gun
 

Sledhead406

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Jan 17, 2019
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CodyAdams has good advice. Im naturally southpaw since my days running around with a BB gun. Ive never owned a left handed rifle and really cant say it holds me back. I did shoot a cousin's left hand rifle once and instinctively went with my "wrong" hand to cycle the bolt, muscle memory. It really shouldnt hold him back one bit to start on a right handed rifle. Just don't let him go 36 years before trying a lefty.
 

Eatonc

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May 20, 2020
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I’m left eye dominant. Shot right handed my entire life. I wish I would have learned to shoot left handed when I was a kid regardless of what handed the gun was. Side note good for you for actually taking the time to find out which one your boys are.
 

tmmcampbell

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Dec 9, 2008
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You have the same issue I had with my boy. I had several right hand rifles to pass Down to him. We switched him over to left hand and have never looked back. Several times a year he mentions how grateful he is to have switched. Over the years I have sold the right handed rifles that didn’t have meaning to me. He now has a beretta extreme left handed, a left hand recurve, a left hand compound, and a left hand tikka. Currently looking for another Left hand tikka to build off of.
 

sedancowboy

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I am a life long lefty and have been shooting for well over 50 years! please buy him a Left handed rifle so he can shoot it properly. If reaching over was so easy why don't all right handed shooters shoot a left handed rifle. Savage makes a youth model 11 in LH. I have 3 sons who are Right handed and they have right handed guns as they should. Just because we can adapt to something does not mean we should.
Henry
 

Deputy819

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Excellent advice from ALL above. I can sure sympathize with your situation. I’m left eye dominant, but right-handed. When I first got into Law Enforcement (14 years ago) the range instructors initially thought I was screwing around when shooting pistol quals because they thought I was looking somewhere other than the target (my head turned to the right/sighting with my left eye). I have to close my left eye when looking through a scope otherwise I see 2 reticles. 🤔
 

LVJ76

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Cody covered it pretry well so not much to add, except reinforce of having him shoot a right handed rifle and later on when he grows up get him a left handed one.

I bet you are having the time of your life with them following on daddy's foot steps, great job Dad.

Stay safe.
 

dok7mm

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west texas
One of my sons, was right handed and left eye dominant @ 6 years, when he started shooting. I caught him sighting over the stock with his left.

His mother made him a patch for the left eye and within a month or so, he was shooting right hand, right eye. Now he's an excellent long range shooter, a total righty at 38.

I think eye dominance "may not" be etched in stone in youngsters, but I'm certainly no expert.
 

HARPERC

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IMG-0283 (1).jpg

Savage 93R17-don't recall complete designation. Any way cut to 10.5" LOP, and Burris Fast Fire. Solves eye dominance, eye relief, and front sight-rear sight relationship. Had a 5 year old busting balloons to 75 yards within minutes. Squirrels shortly after.

Better sights out there currently, but the principle is valid.

Only real rule is keep it fun.
 

sheepdawg

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Nov 21, 2016
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CA
Thank you all for your input. You have all given me some great advise. I am having the time of my life being a father and teaching them how to shoot, hunt, and becoming a man. In fact, it's my number one priority for the remainder of my life is to turn those boys into good citizens and honest hard working men.
 

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