New Gun, Training & Handling

Do You Have A Dominant Eye – Does It Matter?

We all learn from an early age which one of our hands we prefer to use, our right or left. However, many people are unaware that they also have a preferred eye, a dominant eye, which is the one that works harder at sending the images to the brain. Although we are able to see out of both eyes, and might even have equal vision in the two, one will transmit the information more quickly to the brain than the other.

Until a person has had to perform a specific task that requires using one eye over the other, such as looking through a rifle scope, the issue of eye dominance may not be noticed. So let’s go back to right-hand/left-handedness. While shooting a handgun, a right-handed, right-eye dominant person will easily be able to line up their sights by extending the gun out straight in front of their line of sight. When the left eye is closed, the right eye is able to send the correct information to the brain that the sights are lined up with the target. But what happens when the shooter is right-handed but left-eye dominant, or vice versa? This is known as cross-eye dominance.

Which Is Your Dominant Eye?

Before we discuss what this may mean to you as a shooter, let’s determine which of your eyes is dominant. One of the easiest ways to find out is to take both hands, touch your thumbs and index fingers to each other to form a triangle. Now slightly overlap your hands to allow the triangle to become smaller. Next, pick an object such as a light switch or other small target across the room. With your arms extended and both eyes open, center the object inside the triangle. Now, close one eye and see if the object remains visible. Repeat with the opposite eye. The eye that kept the object the most centered is your dominant eye.

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Shooting long guns is usually where this becomes a more significant issue. As a right handed, left eye dominant shooter, resting your right cheek on the stock makes it difficult to line up the sights or use a scope with your left eye. I have known many right-handed shooters that shoot long guns left handed with great success.

Cross-eye dominance doesn’t have to be a problem and when shooting handguns, it may or may not need any specific adjustments. Many shooters naturally and almost without knowing it, make subtle adjustments for proper sight alignment. If your cross-eye dominance is causing you difficulty in hitting the target, here are a couple of different techniques you can try and find what works best for you.

What Can You Do?

The first option is to extend the pistol, using your normal grip. Now, slightly move the gun over in front of your dominant eye, keeping your head straight. This allows your dominant eye to see the gun sights. Similarly, you can ever so slightly cant (angle) the gun inward, also keeping your head straight. This also allows your dominant eye to see the gun sights.

Another common option is as you extend the gun toward the target, slightly turn your head so that your dominant eye is in line with the sights.

A tip that might help you focus with your dominant eye would be to place a piece of scotch tape over the lens of your shooting glasses. This option occludes the vision in the dominant eye while still allowing light in, not causing the pupils to dilate. This can also be helpful if you have trouble closing one eye.

Finally, you can practice shooting with your non-dominant hand, so that the sights will naturally be in line with your dominant eye. This feels strange to begin with, but can be very effective and easy over time. This requires quite a bit of training and if you carry your firearm in an on-body holster, you would need to switch to the opposite side. This may mean buying a different holster as well as learning how to draw and re-holster safely and proficiently.

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21 thoughts on “Do You Have A Dominant Eye – Does It Matter?

  1. arussaw1 says:

    THANK YOU for this!! I’m a relatively new Shooter with poor vision. Definitely left eye dominant & very right hand dominant. At the Range, I think I’m aiming at one spot & actually I’m aiming elsewhere! I usually go a little high & to the left of my intended spot. I’ve been working on training myself to shoot slightly lower, to the right of what I aim to shoot, but some of your suggestions may also work.
    It’s SO frustrating, but this post has given me hope!❤

  2. Nan Good says:

    When I use this to check dominance, the target in the triangle stays visible with both eyes, just moves from one edge to the other when I close an eye. Does that mean neither eye is dominant? I use my left eye for photography. Thank you

    1. Carrie Lightfoot says:

      Hi Nan,
      I would try another test – just to see what happens.
      1. Pick a distance target, such as a vase or a hanging photo.
      2. Using both hands, point at it with your hands intertwined so that both index fingers are pointed at it.
      3. While fixating on it, alternate between closing one eye and then the other.
      4. The dominant eye is the one that remains lined up with the target.
      My guess is that if this test doesn’t show an obvious dominant – that your left eye is slightly more dominant – just not enough so for a definitive result with the testing.

  3. Another great option is to do exercises that train you to shoot with both eyes open. There is a great exercise you can do with a pencil to train. I am cross-eyed dominant and have started shooting with both eyes open and have increased accuracy greatly. The trick whether shooting with both eyes open or cross-eye dominant (particularly when your contact lens in the dominant eye corrects for close up vision) is to focus on the sights of the gun, not the target. The target will be blurry anyway so don’t focus on it.

  4. Alexia says:

    Fantastic article! It’s so nice to know that being cross-eye dominant effects many people. I put a patch on my left eye, and use my right to shoot when I hunt. With my handgun, I close my right eye, and use my left to shoot. Plus I have to wear glasses for distance. Thank you for posting this article on Facebook. I’m going to practice with my eyes open using the techniques in the article, and even the switching hands idea as well. Thank you!

  5. Linda says:

    What you don’t mention as an option is to do to learn to use your non dominate eye. I’m cross eye dominant and left handed. Shooting a rifle would have been impossible to do comfortably. I’ve had great success with both my pistol and rifles. I prefer this option rather than contorting my head or using my dominant eye. It can be done… maybe easier for some than others… also depending on how your vision is with your mom dominant eye. Give it a try as another option. Works for me!

  6. Randy Miller says:

    I have the same issue. Left handed, but right eye dominant. My left eye has poor vision even with glasses. I have been able to shoot a pistol without problem. However, when I shoot an AR15 I switch to using my left eye, even though the vision is poor. I’m still a pretty good shot.

    1. Jeanne says:

      Recently I realized that my dominant eye had changed. That surprised me

  7. MJ Leonard says:

    What a great article, every piece of information that you have shared has helped me be a more accurate shooter. Thanks so much!

  8. Carrie Lightfoot says:

    You could try to train your right eye to be your dominant eye. This is what I did, but it takes a while but can work. Blur out your left eye by putting some scotch tape or vaseline on the shooting glasses lens of your left eye – this forces your right eye to do the work while still being able to keep both eyes open. I also did a lot of dry fire training, forcing my right eye to focus on the front sight. The other option could be using these top focal shooting glasses. You can change out the lenses and put the magnification higher on the left lens to help your dominant eye focus on the sight. I hope this helps a little Lillian 😉

  9. Lillian Chenoweth says:

    I am cross eye dominant as well. Right hand left eye. The worst thing is I my vision out of my left eye is bad. Blurry. What do I do?

  10. Debra Williams says:

    Great article!! Cross eyed 🙂

  11. Elaine says:

    My lasik surgery resulted in my dominant eye (right) being my distance eye and my left eye being my reading eye. So it is harder for me to see the pistol site with my right eye. Any tips?

  12. Anita Byers says:

    Thank you for this information. I am cross-eyed dominant. Right hand, left eye. I’m going to try these suggestions, switching hands is proving too difficult for me.

  13. Barbara Battista says:

    Boy, did I learn why I have a problem with lining up my target! I had no idea. Keep the great articles coming. The more we know, the better we become. Thanks so much!

  14. Donna says:

    When I took my CCW training, they checked us for eye dominance and Im cross eye dominant. Left hand and right eye. Thank you for a good read. The article was really informative

  15. Jasmine says:

    I left a snarky comment on the how to load and unload video and got properly told off so now, I want to let you know that this article was very helpful. I have had some work done on my eyes which changed the vision parameters and I’m reminded me that I need, need, need to get to the range reconfigure the sighting. Thank you for this great tip.

  16. Julia Campbell says:

    Yet another great article. Thanks!

  17. Michelle says:

    I tried this and I could see the object clearly with my left eye but not at all with my right. No wonder I can’t hit much. I have a bad stigmatise in my right eye and I think that’s part of the problem.

  18. Great article. It will help with issue I have been having .

  19. Shelia says:

    Great article that might help with the light eye dominant issue I have been having.

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