One of the things that you see recommended often for
the cross dominance problem is blinders. A blinder
does nothing more than just removing the ability of
the "off eye" (one not directly behind the barrel) from
seeing the barrel and sight picture. You hear people
really raving about these blinders as if they were the
greatest thing in shooting. Actually though there
are considerable problems with them. To the blinders
credit though, is the fact that it does seem to work
well when the shooter first tries it. Since it does
seem to work well compared with not using that blinder,
many shooters think they have found the holy grail
and look no further for a solution. Some even really
excel using their blinder.
For a more in depth look, here are the blinders that
have found a following:
(1) Blinking the "off eye" while shooting. This is
no doubt the original blinder. A number of good
shooters do this, but I suspect it is because they
just realized that it worked better than leaving
the master eye open if master was not behind the barrel.
So they took this solution that seemed to work and
honed it into a fine art. In fact though there are
problems with it. First problem, when both eyes are
not open you have a hole in your vision. This is
an area where you do not have vision. Anything in
that hole will not be seen. If the target is in
it you will not see the target. Fortunately, your
vision hole is different for each eye. What is in
vision hole of the left eye can still be seen by
the right eye and vice versa. So if you leave
both eyes open then you will never lose sight of
the target. Second problem with closing that eye
is the second shot when doing doubles. Looking
for that second target with only one eye, then you
have more difficulty finding it, and this usually
translates to time lost in finding it. Motion is
quicker detected with both eyes open and motion is
what is first detected in picking up that second
target. Third problem with the blink is, if
you do not have the ability to close that "off eye"
by itself, then you also partially close the
shooting eye. This is pretty common, and when
the shooting eye is partially closed it can cut
off vision further by reducing the eye hole size
that is letting in the light and this further
reduces vision. And the forth problem is for the
field shooter. In the surprise of the moment a
hunter can easily forget to blink that off eye,
and then his solution is not even attempted.
So there you have four problems with the blink.
In spite of these problems this is still a
recommended technique by a number of instructors.
It just goes to show how far you can get with
an inferior technique.
(2) The next recommended blinder is the dot on
the glasses. With this technique you put just
a small blinder on the lens of the "off eye"
glasses. You position this small dot so that
it blocks out vision of the barrel for the "off
eye". In theory this works pretty good. You
can still acquire the target with both eyes,
but as you shoulder the gun with head in the
correct position, the small dot blocks vision
of the barrel/sight and you still see the target
with both eyes, and you don't have to bother
with blinking. In theory it is pretty good.
In practice though, shooters tend to try and
position the head so that the off eye can see
the barrel/sight, after all that is the eye that
is controlling things and the brain wants to
use it, so the shooter is constantly trying to
move his head so that darn dot is not in the
way, yet it has to be in the way to work. If
shooting a with a prepositioned mounted gun,
you have plenty of time to position the head
and get the dot in just the right spot and let
your brain soak in the picture, with the master
eye not even seeing the barrel/sight, then it
works pretty decently, but if you don't shoot
prepositioned gun then you are going to run
into the before mentioned problems. This is
slightly better than blinking, especially if
you shoot a premounted gun, because it does
not have as many problems as mentioned before
in the blinking/winking technique.
(3) Next blinder is that you just make the dot
much bigger. Instead of a small dot you put
a bigger piece of tape on the glass lens. You
position this tape so that while the head is
erect in normal position, you are able to first
see and acquire the target with both eyes, but
when you position your head onto the stock
slightly rotating the head down, the tape lowers
into position with this forward tilted head,
and you now cannot see the barrel/sight with
the "off eye". This works slightly better for
many because they don't have the problems of
blinking, or remembering to blink. Still it
shares some disadvantage of blinking; hole
in vision, finding 2nd target etc.
(4) The next blinder is what I call the fence.
This was probably one of the first attempts at
blinders. I thought this up with only about 10
minutes of thought on the subject back about
50 years ago. It is probably the most obvious
blinder you can come up with. I know many more
than me were able to come up with this idea,
because I have seen a number of them for sale
commercially. Here is a picture of the fence.
The theory here is that the "off eye" cannot see
the bead, and by blocking the bead from the
master eye, you can let the other eye control
the aiming. The theory is good, but in actual
practice this is a really sorry solution. The
problem with it is this. Your actual sight
picture that the brain uses is a lot more than
just the bead. Your brain knows that the bead is
just part of what you are pointing. In fact you
are pointing a receiver, barrel, and vent rib,
in addition to the bead. All of this is sight
picture. The fence only stops your "off eye" from
seeing the bead. The "off eye" can still see the
rib and barrel, which actually makes up more of
the sight picture than the bead does. This
fence does work somewhat well if you premount
the gun. Premounting gives you plenty of time
to "see the bead" and ignore all the other stuff
like barrel and rib. Now with your eyes knowing
full well where the bead is, you can call for
the target and only the eye lined up with the
barrel is seeing the bead and it works okay.
If you shoot low gun, though as many prefer,
especially in the field, then you have quite
a lag after mounting the gun before your
brain sorts all this out and just sees the
bead and perceives that as the aiming device.
The fence while sounding good, has never caught
on well, even though it has been around for at
least 50 years by various geniuses that have
invented it. If it really worked well, you would
see them all over the place, but they only work
for a small number and most of those people are
shooting the premounted gun.
(5) The next blinder is a more updated version
of the fence, and I call it the tunnel. This
is the tunnel:
This is a little more sophisticated than the fence,
because the bead is replaced with a bright dot.
A bight colored piece of plastic is placed inside
a tunnel, so that only the eye that is lined up
with the tunnel sees the bright plastic, and this
tunnel keeps the "off eye" from seeing the bead,
and also the aiming eye behind it sees the bead
much better because it shows up brightly. This
makes a much more pronounced sight picture and
for this reason it lets the brain perceive it
much more easily, and this makes it quicker that
the brain recognizes the sighting device. This
works much better than the fence, for most people
because it shows the bead up much better. This
actually does away with a lot of the disadvantages
of blinking/winking. You now have binocular vision
of the target, but only the aiming eye can see
the aiming devise (bright bead). You have no
problems like holes in your vision, and you can
acquire the second target rapidly. Also you don't
have to remember to blink. There is only one
problem with the tunnel, as far as I can see. That
is the fact that you cannot see the sight until
you have the gun positioned perfectly in shooting
position. This is a problem for field shooters
and low gun target shooters. Normally when mounting
a gun, your brain is aware of the position of the
barrel/rib even as you are mounting the gun. You
can actually be doing rough aiming even while
mounting. In effect, what this means again is that
you are using more than just the bead for your
sight picture. You also use the barrel/rib as
part of the sight picture. Since you use that as
part of your sight picture, and you perceive that
even as you are mounting then your brain is aware
of sight picture even before the gun hits your
shoulder, since your brain is using that barrel/rib
as reference. Now once the gun does come into
position, your brain has to transition to another
sight picture, that being the bright plastic dot
in the tunnel. Your brain can't see that bright
dot until the gun if fully mounted. With this
tunnel, you do not have the sight picture until the
gun is fully mounted. Even after it is fully mounted,
it takes an instant for the brain to now perceive that
bright dot, and position the gun for the shot. This
means that you will have slight delay before your
brain can start finally solving the aiming problem,
because of how late in the movement the sight picture
has arrived. So this tunnel is slightly slower than
just using the exposed bead which your brain can
perceive even while mounting. If you shoot premounted
then there is no delay in perceiving the sight picture
since you can perceive it as you get the gun lined up
and ready to call for the target. If you shoot low gun,
though there will be a very slight delay as your brain
finally gets an aiming point to use at the last instant
of gun mount. This solution works pretty well for all
the premounted shooters to use, and it works pretty
good in the field where you have plenty of time after
mounting to get the brain to preceiving that sight
picture, slightly after the gun is fully mounted.
So there are all the popular blinders.
In addition to these popular blinders, there is actually
another one that works even better, and it requires
no extra equipment to use.
This blinder is your thumb. If you hold the forearm of
your gun with your thumb in this position then you
have made your own blinder. The following two pictures
show the hand and thumb as seen from both the left and
As you can see the hand is holding the forearm so that
the thumb is extending above the barrel and right
beside it. Seen from the rear this is what the eye
behind the barrel/rib sees as it is lined up on
a target for a right handed shooter:
Next picture is what the "off eye" sees that is not lined
up on barrel. The barrel/sight is blocked from vision
on the "off eye", and yet it can still see the target.
Notice you can see the target with both eyes but
you can only see the barrel/rib/bead with the eye
that is lined up with barrel. The reason that this
thumb only blocks out the barrel/rib/bead from
the off eye is because the thumb is actually between
the eyes. If you were out at the target looking
back at the shooter you would see this picture,
with the thumb between the eyes, and yet both
eyes have a clear path and vision of the target.
Notice that the blinders on your glasses put the
blinder right back about a 1/4 inch from the eye,
and the fence and tunnel stick the blinder out
at the end of the barrel. With the thumb though
you are compromising between these two distances
that the blinder is away from the eye, and
there are several advantages of this blinder, just
using your thumb. Here are the advantages.
(1) You don't need to buy anything. It will work
with any gun you happen to use, and with any glasses.
(2) Gives you full binocular view of the target
and lets you find second targets using both eyes.
(3) It gives the same sight picture as you are
mounting as when gun finally gets into postion.
It uses the full sight picture, barrel/rib/bead.
All of these are visible all during the mount,
and there is no transistion to the bead after
it appears, because it is always present during
(4) It completely eliminates view of the barrel,
rib, and bead by the "off eye", and it eliminates
this vision even during mount, making it a seamless
transition to the sight picture which is always
present during the mount. This is important because
as noted before your sight picture actually includes
more than just the bead.
(5) Lets both eyes try to acquire the second
target on doubles.
(6) Works no matter which hand you use, so you
can shoot left or right handed and have binocular
view of the target yet only the eye behind the
barrel is allowed aiming information.
(7) You don't have to wear glasses with tape.
So you can use or not use any glasses you see
fit to use, and maybe while hunting you don't
even want glasses, perhaps if snowing or raining
So there is the full story as I know it on blinders.
Dr Andrew Jones in recent post noted the use of the
thumb as a blinder, but a reader had trouble trying
understand what he was describing. With these pictures
you should be able to figure it out.
I used the thumb blinder for several years and
found that I could shoot as well with either hand
doing it. As time went on, I developed the ability
to use either eye without any blinder at all, and
yet with both eyes open. I suspect that just using
the thumb blinder and making my brain use either
eye was actually a training for my brain to use
either eye even when the blinder was later removed.
I covered that in the above posts about the eye use
and how you could actually use either eye with training.
While developing the use of both eyes it can be helpful
to use the thumb blinder before you really develop
equal vision whereby your brain can use either
eye as effectively as the other. After you
develop your vision properly, you can forget
the blinder, as it is no longer needed. Until
then, you might want to use the blinder, and
you will always have your thumb present if
Before I started using the thumb as a blinder I
made blinders that attached to the gun in the
receiver area. This is something you can do
if you don't want to stick your thumb up and
use it as a blinder. This also gives the advantage
of the thumb with the distance from eye to blinder
being a compromise between the taped glasses and
the tunnel way out at the end of the barrel.
Here is one of my blinders that I made by adding it
to an 870 forearm.
This one is on the ride side of the gun so
it works good if your right eye is dominant
and you want to shoot left handed both eyes open.
Also one thing about the pump gun is that using
your thumb can be a problem. If the gun is
a right handed gun and you shoot it left handed,
with your right thumb as a blinder then that
thumb will get in the way of ejection of the
spent shell. With your hand/thumb there
blocking ejection, you will get a jam of the
gun on the second shot because the shell will
not eject. This blinder on the forearm solves
that by being in a position that does not
interfer with ejection. After you develop
complete use of your eyes then you no longer
have to use the thumb and you can shoot your
pump with either hand with the thumb down.