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.
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.