Eye dominance is the tendency to prefer visual input from one eye over the other. In other words, eye dominance determines which eye is providing the most accurate information to your brain. This is important to recognize because your dominant eye is the eye that will need to focus on the front sight of your firearm for you to aim and shoot proficiently.
Interestingly enough, the dominant eye and the dominant hand are sometimes not on the same side of the body, which results in what we call cross-dominance. A recent article in Shooting Illustrated states that 65 percent of people have the same dominant eye as their dominant hand, 18 percent have a dominant eye different from their dominant hand, and 17 percent have no identifiable dominant eye.
If your dominant eye and your dominant hand favor the same side, then you’ve got fewer worries in the shooting department. But if you happen to be part of the 18 percent, cross-dominance can create some interesting challenges. Following are eight tools and tips to help manage those issues … and either embrace or overcome being cross-dominant.
Shift the Firearm
This method is best used with the Isosceles stance, in which the feet are shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and arms fully extended. The handgun is naturally between both eyes so the firearm can be easily moved over to the dominant eye. Instructor Kelly Ann Pidgeon will instruct a student to keep her body aligned (nose, toes and thumbs pointed downrange) and then shift the firearm to her face. Pidgeon describes this method as “so simple, which creates better results.”
Turn the Face
This method is best used with the Weaver stance, in which the dominant foot is slightly behind the non-dominant foot. The head can then be turned somewhat toward the bicep of the dominant hand, which then lines up the dominant eye with the sights of the firearm.
Close the Non-Dominant Eye
While it is most often recommended to shoot with both eyes open, some shooters find that they cannot gain a good sight picture without closing one eye. Just shut the non-dominant eye and line the sights up with your dominant one. Another option is to wink or squint the eye, get an adequate sight picture and then take the shot.
Shoot With the Non-Dominant Hand
This method certainly comes with extra challenges! The fundamentals, such as grip and trigger press, would all need to be done with the non-dominant hand. This might not come easily or naturally. In this case, move the gun to your non-dominant hand. Shoot with that hand so that the sights align more naturally with the dominant eye. This method is especially beneficial when shooting with a rifle or a shotgun, as the option to turn the head will not work.
Try Eye Dots
Can’t close an eye? Texas Shooter Optical developed a product called Magic Eye Dots. It is a translucent dot for shooting glasses that is placed inside the lens of the non-dominant eye. It causes a slight fuzziness, which will force focus to the dominant eye. These dots help maintain the key advantages of two-eyed vision: depth perception and peripheral vision.
Use Eye Blinders
Another option if an eye cannot be closed is to use an eye blinder. The blinder can clip onto the shooting glasses or the brim of a hat and will cover the non-dominant eye. The blinder can quickly be moved out of the way when not shooting.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Controlling or overcoming cross-dominance is going to take time and practice. But beyond shooting, you can also practice a few drills (when not at the range) to strengthen eye dominance. For any dry practice, be sure that the firearm is unloaded and there is no ammunition in the room. One drill is to raise the gun, gain sight picture with your dominant eye and the front sight, then lower and repeat. In this drill, it might be easiest to close the non-dominant eye.
If you find that you are having trouble hitting the target, you might be struggling with cross-dominance. Luckily, you are not alone. It is a very common problem that you can efficiently manage with training and practice.