More than meets the eye

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The age-old belief that men and women don’t see eye to eye is, according to a new study, more apparent than first thought.

For some years scientists have been happy to promote the fact that it is men and women’s physical ability that separates them in sport performances, and it is only in recent studies that that generalisation is being questioned, as researchers look at the differences in the neurological way men and women are put together.

Have you ever found yourself arguing with your partner over how far a target is away at a clay shoot? It could just be that you are simply not seeing the same thing.

Over recent years, research has shown that guys’ eyes are more sensitive to small details and moving objects, while women are more perceptive to colour changes. Researchers have also found that men excel at tracking fast-moving objects in sharper detail from a distance, possibly an evolutionary adaptation linked to our hunter-gatherer past.

Men in the study showed significantly greater sensitivity for fine detail and clarity regarding fast-moving objects, and the researchers believe this may have related to detecting and categorising possible predators or prey from afar.

Meanwhile, female vision in prehistoric ages may have become better adapted to swiftly recognising close at hand, colourful objects such as berries and fruits. Interestingly, it is now recognised that women can see more clearly side to side and above them without them having to turn their heads, which could have evolved from the need to guard the children and the homestead from harm, spotting any movement and reacting quickly to defend the family.

Women tend to have greater peripheral vision...

Women tend to have greater peripheral vision…

I recently watched Charlotte Kerwood shooting OT practice, and her reactions are like lightning. Women can in fact see accurately about 45 degrees from the middle of their faces, both side to side and up and down. Amazingly, some women actually have peripheral vision that can extend almost a full 180 degrees! Men however, only have about a 30 degree vision radius, but with better acute focus.

Often men can ‘not be able to see for looking’ where a women will say ‘it’s right under your nose!’ But while men have narrower peripheral vision, their distance vision is far more acute. I also read that the eye is in fact merely an extension of the brain, and intriguingly it’s not our eye we see through but the brain itself. The eye acts as merely a receptor to colour, shape and movement, and the brain deciphers and interprets those messages to form the moving pictures that we see. As we’re beginning to understand, men and women transmit and read those images slightly differently.

Researchers are still not entirely sure if it is the eye or part of the brain which is responsible for detailed magnification, but it is already apparent men have a greater concentration on depth of focus and a better sense of perception than women. If a man is driving with his female partner, he will be able to read road signs before she will be able to, and this is even more noticeable in bright light. But the woman is more likely to be able to read information in the car better at night, as researchers are now stating women see better in the dark. They are more sensitive to the red end of the spectrum, seeing more red hues than men, and have a better visual memory.

Women quite literally take in the bigger picture. Scientists have worked out that women have wider peripheral vision because they have more of the receptor rods and cones at the back of the eyeball, to receive a wider arc of visual input.

...whereas men see greater detail at greater distances

…whereas men see greater detail at greater distances

In recent years vision researchers began to find some real physical differences between the eyes of most women and men. ‘Normal’ color vision is possible because we have three different types of cone cell in our eyes, which respond to different wavelengths of light. Cone cells can have three different photopigments. These are usually generalised as red, green and blue, but they are closer to yellowish green, green, and bluish violet.

To avoid confusion, they are called long-, medium-, and short-wavelength sensitive cones.

Supposing we’re looking at a yellowish-green thing, the long-wavelength cones are stimulated the most, the medium-wavelength cones are stimulated a bit, and the short-wavelength cones are not stimulated at all, and the appropriate signal is sent along the optic nerve to the brain, which then recognises the color as ‘yellowish-green.’

What the researchers found when they looked at the structure of the eye is that many women—perhaps over 50 percent—possessed a fourth photopigment. The stereotype of women being better with colour may reflect real differences between male and female vision.

I’ve found this subject really interesting, and would very much like to apply more detailed research to investigate further how these differences affect clay shooting. From what I have learned, our interpretation of colour and our reaction to movement is quite different between men and women.

I would be particularly interested to hear from anyone who would be willing to let me know which colour lenses they prefer to shoot in and why, and also to hear of any interesting eye issues experienced from both men and women. Email me at pet_easton@hotmail.com

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4 comments on “More than meets the eye
  1. Very nice article Pet. I’ve been saying very similar for years.
    This subject really interests me a great deal.
    Often when I’m coaching a mixed couple or group I have to explain why the lady is being coached to do things slightly different to the man/men.
    Also I can usually get a team of first time lady shooters to beat a team of first time men shooters that are with another coach on a corporate shoot. Girls literally see the world differently and a coach needs to know and understand that.

  2. Very nice article Pet. I’ve been saying very similar for years.
    This subject really interests me a great deal.
    Often when I’m coaching a mixed couple or group I have to explain why the lady is being coached to do things slightly different to the man/men.
    Also I can usually get a team of first time lady shooters to beat a team of first time men shooters that are with another coach on a corporate shoot. Girls literally see the world differently and a coach needs to know and understand that.

  3. Jay Bolt says:

    Yes, very interesting. Do you have links or citations to the research you mention? It would help me with a project I am doing in my day job, teaching philosophy!

  4. Jay Bolt says:

    Yes, very interesting. Do you have links or citations to the research you mention? It would help me with a project I am doing in my day job, teaching philosophy!

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