Thursday, November 15, 2012

left handed shooting

I was recently asked by a fellow chukar hunter named jojo about the specifics of my changing from shooting right handed to left handed. It seems that he/she has the same problem as I have. Left eye dominance. I swapped sides when I was in my early twenties when it was quite obvious my left eye was my dominant eye. It was a good thing, because now I can only see movement from my right eye and can barely tell the difference between a cow and a deer standing twenty yards in front of me. Back then I shot a 870 pump and I don't recall it being real difficult to shoot left handed but I do remember missing a lot. But I was missing right handed too, so I wasn't too stressed out. Getting used to taking the safety off and on and pumping the action smoothly was harder than the shooting. It's amazing how the mind works. There were a lot of jerky moments when the brain was still telling me to do things right handed since I had been doing so for about six or seven years in the past. Looking back, it would have been a lot easier to change had I been shooting a double barrel gun. All I could afford then was the good old reliable Remington 870 which I shot for many years. I shot this right handed gun for many years successfully before I could afford a 1100 automatic. Boy, could I put some shells through that gun fast. Of course it was right handed too, so when the shells ejected they were going right in front of my face. After the first few it never bothered me. Then one day while shooting clay pigeons, a fellow shooter mentioned how unsafe the gas and propellants flying in front of my face was. I had been shooting that way for many years now and never had a problem but I suddenly started getting particles in my face and eyes when I shot. I now had saved enough money to order a Benelli Montefeltro in the left hand version. That was about twenty years ago and I can't remember the specifics, but the safety was reversed from the right hand guns I had been shooting. That was the most difficult problem I have encountered over my years of shotgunning. My brain just wouldn't accept pushing the safety in the opposite direction. I even got to the point of taking the safety off as I appraoched a pointing dog but as I whipped the gun to my shoulder at the flush my finger automatically went to the safety and pushed the button which slid to the safe position. I'm not talking just once or twice, but hundreds of times. I couldn't beat my subconscious telling my hand how I had reacted many thousands of times before. After a year of trying I finally had a gunsmith reverse the safety for me. I now shoot an over/under that I really shoot well. For what reason, I don't know. It's not a left hand model (if there is a difference in over/unders) and was never fitted for me by a gunsmith. I don't pay much attention to all those terms that fits a shotgun to your size. I do know that lining the rib of the shotgun up to the target works whether it's the right or left eye and that once I convinced the rest of my body to cooperate I became a better shooter left handed. The only thing that could have helped making the change easier would have been to catch the problem early. Shoot with your dominant eye before you develope all these sub conscious habits that seem to take over your brain when you are making quick and snap decisions like shooting.


jojo said...

Thanks so much for your reply. I'm 26 and have been shooting right handed for about 10 years. I don't really shoot in the off season and always start the season closing my (dominant) left eye. Towards the end of the season, I can keep my left eye half open. I plan on working on my shooting year round this year and figured I'd better switch now if I'm ever going to

I think most of my missing happens because my closed left eye doesn't allow me to see anything under the barrel. I find myself lifting my head to see see if the bird is hit and consequently shooting over the bird.

Your experience switching makes me hopeful to try for myself. I have an over/under I'll stick with at first. Oh and I'm a He.

larry szurgot said...

I thought so, but in this politically correct world I thought I'd better not make assumptions.