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3 Ways to Correct Cross Eye Dominance When Shooting

Overcoming Cross Eye Dominant Shooting

Are you right- or left-handed? 

This simple question has bearing on most aspects of your daily life. Writing, eating, opening doors, or throwing a ball are all done by a specific hand by most people.

For shooters, it will determine which hand you use to hold a firearm and squeeze the trigger. You instinctively know which hand to use because it is your dominant hand, but do you know which of your eyes is dominant?

 

Left Eye or Right Eye Dominance
Source: Pinterest

The dominant eye is used to aim down the sights of the firearm. Most people have the same eye and hand dominance – right-handed shooters are often right eye dominant, and left-handed shooters tend to be left eye dominant.

However, some will find themselves in a difficult position because their dominant eye is the opposite of their dominant hand. This is called cross-eye dominance (or odd-eye dominance), and it makes using the iron sights of a rifle or shotgun a real challenge.

How Cross Eye Dominance Works

Source: EasyHit

When a shooter aims with their non-dominant eye, their shots will stray to the left or right of their target because the sights are not properly aligned with the target, even though they may appear to be from the shooter’s perspective. Knowledge of eye dominance is not instinctive, so many people are not aware that their eyes are not the same dominance as their hands. For new shooters, this can make their first trip to the range a frustrating one.

 

Testing Your Eye Dominance

Here is a simple test you can perform to find out which of your eyes is the dominant one:

Testing Cross Eye Dominance

  1. Pick an object in the distance to “aim” at, such as a light fixture, picture, or door knob.
  2. Make a circle with your thumb and index finger, holding it away from your face.
  3. Center the circle around that object, as though framing it in a picture.
  4. Close one eye, then the other. Whichever eye keeps the object within the circle is your dominant eye.
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Correcting for Cross-Eye Dominance

If your eye dominance test reveals that you have cross-eye dominance, there are a few things you can do to correct or address the issue:

    • Use a Red Dot Sight

      Many cross-eye dominant shooters report that red dot sights dramatically improve their ability to shoot accurately with a rifle or shotgun. The shooter will keep both eyes open when using the red dot. This allows the dominant eye to focus on the target, and the non-dominant eye to focus on the reticle.
      Using Red Dot Sight on Cross Eye Dominant Shooting

704 Tactical Shooting with AT3 RD-50 Micro Red Dot Sight

Experimenting with placement of the sight is imperative, so start with it in the middle of the upper receiver’s rail system and adjust from there. The farthest forward you should mount your red dot is front end of the rail on your upper receiver. Mounting it on your handguard can result in movement and a loss of proper sighting.

 

  • Train Your Other Eye to be Dominant

Source: Field & Stream

Some shooters report being able to “train” their other eye to become dominant and aim normally. Training the eye involves obstructing your dominant eye’s ability to see clearly, forcing your other eye to adjust and take over. This method requires a significant amount of time and effort, but it may work for you.

Training your eye is done by covering your dominant eye with a patch or taping over the lens of your protective glasses when shooting. Wearing a patch for an extended period, both on and off the range, is a more involved training method and tends to be more effective. 

However, training the eye doesn’t work for everyone; your eye may naturally revert back to its previous dominance when the patch is removed. 

 

  • Learn to Shoot with Your Other Hand

    If you cannot correct your eye’s dominance and are adamant about shooting with iron sights, your third option is to shoot offhand with rifles and shotguns. Realistically, you should learn to shoot offhand anyway – it’s a good skill to have – but it will feel very unnatural at first. Take your time and slowly acclimate to using long guns with your opposite hand. Remember, rushing will simply ingrain bad habits into your training regimen.

Cross Eye Dominant Shooting with Other Hand
If you plan on learning to shoot offhand, you will want to practice all aspects of weapon usage. Carrying it, shouldering it, aiming, shooting, reloading, and clearing failures are all critical skills that will take practice to learn with your non-dominant hand. Even slinging the rifle over your shoulder must be practiced to ensure that you are able to use your weapon properly when needed.

Being cross-eye dominant doesn’t mean that you are doomed to a life of poor marksmanship with AR-15s and other long guns. You just have to adapt to the realities of your vision, find an alternative that works for you, and practice until that alternative feels natural.

Don’t be afraid to try new techniques – if you find that a certain method helps you put rounds on target accurately and consistently, it’s worth adding to your training until you find something more effective.

One Last Tip

If there’s anyone that knows the AR-15 platform, it’s the US military. As a special offer for our readers, you can get the Official US Army Manual for AR-15/M4/M16 right now – for free. Click here to snag a copy.

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51 thoughts on “3 Ways to Correct Cross Eye Dominance When Shooting

  1. Very helpful, thank you!

  2. Or you can just close your dominant eye. Duh. Can’t believe this wasn’t mentioned. That’s what I do all the time.

    1. Doesn’t help when shooting with both eyes open. When [and heaven forbid IF] youre ever in a real shooting scenario your brain will automatically force both eyes open the same as it will dialate the pupils your brain does this so it can take in as much information about the situation as possible this is why not only military and law enforcement train shooting with both eyes open In a real situation forcing one eye closed will be as effective as making your heart rate stay at an exact BPM it just wont happen

    2. I am cross eyed dominate and I do shut my dominant eye (my left) when shooting and it doesn’t help me one bit my (right eye) “weaker eye starts going blurry and seeing colors when I do so for a while on the range. It doesn’t really help and I still shoot off the center.

    3. just closing the non dominate eye can max out rear sight adjustment

    4. Mark, I can’t close my dominant eye without closing my other eye. It’s a weird thing.

      1. I can’t close just my dominant eye, either!

      2. Right there with you, scotch tape over my left lens and also practicing off handed

    5. I’m actually not capable of only closing my dominant eye (left). I can close both eyes, or my right one, but for some reason I can’t close my left eye only.

      1. Use a pair of glasses with the left blocked with tape and keep both eyes open

    6. That’s ok for shooting paper or a deer standing still when you’re in a stand but in trap, skeet or any real life combat situation you don’t “close one eye” while you’re shooting. It’s better to learn how to shoot with your dominant eye because it won’t really matter to your hands if you don’t build a habit around shooting with the wrong eye.

    7. For a lot of people it’s not as easy as just closing your eye in the heat of the moment

    8. I can only wink with one eye so I have problems with that. Idk why but I can’t close my left eye unless I really scrunch up my face and basically squint until my eye barely shuts. Not comfortable, gives me a headache after a while.

      1. Trying to trick your body into doing something that’s not natural usually isn’t a good idea. As a cross dominant myself. I have tried many different techniques all trying to shoot with my dominant hand. I have come to notice my shot was always a little off. It wasn’t till I bit the bullet and trained myself to shoot left handed with my dominant eye that my real marksmanship really shined.

        1. How hard was it to shoot with your opposite hand. I am blind and my right eye which is my dominant eye and it is so awkward to be able to switch shooting with my left hand he was in my left eye. I was wondering if I read. Would help this.

          1. I have exactly the same problem I am blind in my right eye I have no problem whatsoever with my pistol because I’m holding it out front ahead of me. Unlike a rifle or I have to look down on the site and it’s so awkward to hold it that way.

          2. was left eye dominant shot extensively when young at 17 I injured left eye now legally blind in that eye had to relearn shooting right handed it was challenging shot a lot of informal trap took most of a year to relearn those motor skills but it’s doable

  3. Agree with Mark, close the cross dominant eye is an easier way and what I’ve done for close to 50 years. For pistols, I use a modified stance that lets me keep the dominant open yet swings the pistol to the left side. Basically, it uses either isoceles or weaver stance, but put the left foot forward about 1 foot and turn the torso to the right. Once I adopted the position, my groups tightened right up.
    Trying to train your weaker eye to be the dominant, can give you a splitting headache. That’s the most common complaint with that method.

  4. For pistol shooting, touch your chin to your shoulder, this lines up your eye to the sights. For example if you’re right handed but left eye dominant: grip the gun right handed in a good two handed grip. Then turn your head to the right until your chin touches your right shoulder area. This will line your left eye up to the sights. I used to do that until laser surgery got involved and I then trained myself to be right eye dominant. My left eye used to have the better vision until the surgery.

    1. Darrel,
      You hit it right on the head.
      I never thought of that.
      It works for me!
      Simple solution.
      Thanks,
      MM

    2. I totally agree with Darrel. Its the easiest method and more natural way which brings good results rather than training yourself for shooting with your left dominant eye and with a left hand which requires a lot of time, practice and ammo on the range. I had trained myself shooting with my left hand and it was pretty good with AR15 but not with pistols, poor groups off the right. I do it now as with Darrel’s method and happy with the accuracy.

    3. I am right handed but very left eye dominant, even after laser surgery. For rifles I learned to shoot left handed and it seems to work pretty well, although a bit awkward at first. For shotguns I just shoot right handed, since less accuracy is typically required (not to mention that I had shoulder surgery on my left shoulder years back – it can handle rifle recoil ok but not 12 ga shotgun recoil). I never could figure out a good solution for handguns, though. I am inaccurate regardless of what hand I use. Thanks for the suggestion!

    4. I’m going to give that a try – sounds like a great way to compensate for cross-eye dominance.

  5. Very good shooting instruction. Helped both me and my wife. Thanks for posting this and keep up your great service.
    Errol P. Janet

    1. I did a search for shooting a rifle accurately when “cross eyed dominant” and found these posts. I am perplexed. The tips may help with my rifle or shotgun, but I have never had any difficulty shooting any handgun. I just hold the weapon in a typical two handed grip and shoot with both eyes open. My dominant eye naturally lines up the sight picture and I take the shot. I am more accurate than most average shooters. I trained in the military (police) and always scored expert with handguns, but not the AR-15 (USAF). Hopefully I can improve shooting a rifle, but I don’t understand how shooting a pistol in either hand is problematic. You should absolutely know which eye is dominant. Because I have known, maybe I unconsciously adjust my grip. I do shoot frequently and dry fire daily. Maybe practice helps!

  6. What do you suggest if your dominant eye switches?

    1. I, apparently, can easily change my dominant eye. If I close my left eye and focus on something, and then open my left eye, until I do something to change things, my right eye is dominant. If I close my right eye and focus on something, and then open my right eye, my left eye is dominant. Not sure what to make of this??

    2. I am right handed and test left eye dominant. For shooting pistol I figured out that if I don’t complicate it, I accept that I have two different windows to use. I trained myself to recognize and alternate “the windows”. Left window left eye, right window right eye. Just shift the pistol left or right a few inches. With both eyes open. I quickly close one as a quick “check” but after awhile and practice, it is quick. Just stance and hold your pistol and practice by moving pistol left and right, quickly closing and opening eyes to “check” then get to the point that you recognize the windows by habit and automatic memory. Dats whut I did.

  7. I practice with an eye patch and take it into the blind with me when a game animal is approaching I flip it down. When using a shotgun for duck hunting I just have to lean over and use my left eye which is dominant. Cross eye dominance is one pain in the you know what.

  8. I cannot physically close my left eye by itself. Have used an eye patch before for firing a rifle or shotgun. However, this isn’t convenient for a true life situation. Are there off-center scopes available for gun rails that would allow me to shoulder on the right, close my right eye, and site through the scope with my left eye?

    1. If you ever happen to get to Wall Drug in Wall, SD, look up on the walls and you will see a rifle and a shotgun that Ted Hustead—founder of Wall Drug—had made for him. He had a cross dominance issue. The stocks are designed so that when he shouldered it on his right shoulder, the sights were in front of his left eye. Looks odd but worked.

  9. I am left eye dominant and I hold my pistol in my right hand, close my right eye, and focus with my left eye. It is not a huge hindrance to do this and I hit what I aim at.

  10. I’m right handed and left eye dominant. For shooting a handgun, I just “cross-sight”. I still keep both eyes open but, I use my left eye to line up the sights. I’ve been doing that for over 30 years and, it’s works for me just fine. Shooting a rifle is a little trickier. Like the author says, a red dot makes it much easier for for targets past 25 meters but, if you train long and hard, you won’t even need the sights closer than that. It becomes more of a reflex.

  11. I’m 57 been shooting most of my life. Never heard of eye dominance until I stopped in at a real gun shop. In talking to them About a 22 for my grandson, the first question he asked was what eye dominate is he. Found out I’m cross eye dominate. How much difference does it make with a scope? Really like the info

    1. None with a scope it’s really only an issue with iron sights.

  12. I am in the military and I am left eye dominant. I shoot expert on both the m4 and the m9. I have been in for 6 years and have shot right handed and with my right eye with every qual. I do notice that my vision gets blurry quicker but I’ve learned to adapt to that and shoot just fine. I use a red dot on my ar-15 at home that I actually zero with my right eye and the Grouping was Just under an inch. I just found out this past week that I am left eye dominant after taking a tactical pistol course. Being dominant in one eye won’t hurt you as much as people think if you just stick to the fundamentals of marksmanship imo.

  13. I first realized I was odd-eye dominant, shooting pellet rifles growing up, then confirmed it when I got my first official pistol training. Shooting pistols is no big deal, a turn of the head will line things right up. Longer guns can be another story….but I overcame this, by training my odd side, I just started doing more things with it (opening doors, grabbing stuff, etc) and now, it’s so natural, doing it any other way feels wrong. I shoot pistol, strong hand, and rifpe odd hand, no problem. Is like boxing, at first, getting into right handed stance by placing your strong hand in the back, feels “unnatural” but after some repetition and practice, it becomes second nature, and you learn the right way to do it. The more you have to use it, the more you understand why this is the correct way. Besides, training your off hand should be part of the complete training anyway, as you have to prepare for anything and maximise the use of all of your tools, and options. Shooting strong hand will come natural, but odd hand takes practice, and you’re only as strong as your weakest spot.

  14. I’m cross eye dominant, I shoot rifles left handed, pistols right. I’ve always shot expert with a rifle but I’m only average with a pistol. Shooting left handed feels natural to me and was never a problem that needed fixing.
    During my many years in the Army I went from the M16A1 to the M4. After a day at the range firing the M16A1, I would have a small scar on my right cheek., it was a badge of honor.

    I can shoot righty fairly well, I’m just much better and more comfortable shooting lefty.

  15. I am a lefty with right eye dominance. for pistols, I sort of cant the pistol to the right a little- not gangsta but gansta-ish 🙂 Frustrating. I will try the chin to shoulder technique. For me hold in my left hand and turn chin to left shoulder- opposite of Darrel. I do keep both eyes open. Hit what I need to. If want precision, then will need to work on it. I do set my sights for my left side, although I do have astigmatism in my left eye. I just need contacts to fix.

  16. I’ve been running around the boonies with some sort of weapon in hand since I was big enough to cock a daisy Red Ryder, and I’ve never had a single issue shooting a pistol right handed, but I shoot a rifle and a bow with my left. I’m as right handed as they come, but my left eye tells the right one to make the sammiches.

    1. Same Same Same. Shoot pistol right handed, shoot bow and rifle left handed, Right eye dominant. do you buy rifles in right or left hand models? Since ive been shooting since i could walk I have no problem shooting right or left handed bolts and really have never had a problem with accuracy.

  17. I recently became blind in my dominant (right) eye. I am now cross eye dominant. Is there any other option out there when shooting a deer rifle with a scope, other than switching to a left hand hold on a rifle (and shotgun for that matter as well)? I shoot bow right handed and have adjusted my sight to be able to use my left eye for aiming and still draw right handed. I would love to not have to switch my hold with a long gun.

  18. I, like commenter Matt Pociask, became blind in my right dominant eye a few years ago. This has not created a problem for me with my pistol shooting. I have been considering a purchase of a long gun recently but don’t necessarily want to train myself to shoot left handed to overcome my disability. Has anyone had experience with laser sights as an effective accommodation for the cross dominance issue? What about using scopes? Are there mounts for offsetting scopes to one side or the other? Appreciate any advice.

  19. There is another aspect not mentioned. Much less rare is people who have weak eye dominance, i. e., neither eye is strongly dominant and apparent dominance can shift depending on the distance and nature of what one is focusing on. We discovered that my wife had this phenomenon when we checked her eye dominance prior to some formal pistol training. She is right handed and her left is her more dominant eye. At the end of one day’s training the instructor had her consistently hitting what she was aiming at, both eyes open using iso stance.

    I am fortunately righty-righty (shoot Chapman). After shooting rifle and shot gun for years with left eye closed, I began to shoot trap and skeet with both eyes open and a much heavier tint in the left lens of my shooting glasses. Worked fine, shot better.

  20. A well stated article on helping with this syndrome.

  21. You think shooting is tough; I have a patient ( I’m an optometrist and shooting instructor ) who is a
    competitive archer, wanted to introduce his son to the sport. His son is right handed and has a lazy right
    eye – usually not correctable. Learning to be skilled with the non dominant hand is frustrating and pulling
    a bow, especially a heavy draw compound bow, crossed over – right handed but left eye is near impossible.
    The muscles in the back, shoulders, and arms don’t cooperate. If any of you are serious archers help me
    help him.

  22. I am left eye dominant/right-handed and couldn’t individually close the left eye on it’s own so I learned to shoot a rifle left-handed. It always felt a little unnatural, I could never shoot as well as I’d like to, and now I am wanting to learn to shoot a bow. After months of practice (and alot of funny looks) I taught myself to barely close my left eye on it’s own. I am now wearing an eye patch several hours a week to try to build my right eye.

    Just wanted to post so those who can’t individually close their dominant eye that I feel for you but there is hope!

  23. Any thoughts about mechanical/ design fixes to this – offset sights to the left or a stock that is adjusted to accommodate a deeper check weld that aligns your left eye?

  24. I fail to see the problem of being right handed, left eye dominant. Shot my long guns left handed all my life, shoot my hand gun right handed across my body aiming with my left eye. Shoot as good as anyone else I have gone to the range with and killed my share of deer/pheasant. Received Marksmanship award. My father just told my to shoot the way that is natural for me when I was young. It works. Today’s red dots and LPVOs just opened even more opportunities.
    I will not comply!! 🤣

  25. Although I shoot Shotgun not Pistol, mostly skeet and field shooting in season for geese and ducks. I am left handed and (was) right eye dominant, I also took up shotgun shooting again at 43 after not really picking up a shotgun since my early twenties when I shot exclusively one eye closed.(I did not know about eye dominance then, all I knew was I missed if I didn’t close my right eye.) Anyway, I took up the sport again and of course, I started by shooting one eye closed but soon realised I was hurting my scores due to both depth perception and not visually picking up the bird early enough when it was coming from the low house on the later stations. At this point I was told about eye dominance. I first tried shooting right handed but unfortunately soon gave this up as a lost cause.I then put the smallest piece of clear but opaque tape possible on a set of glasses so that just the bead (sight) was obscured by the tape. I then started to practice, and by practice I mean try and perfect my gun mount by doing it the same way EVERY time. Two years and 4500-5000 rounds later I recently took the patch off my glasses for the first time during a round. And guess what? I kept hitting birds despite my brain screaming at me that I was going to miss, all it required was a hard focus on the target and a belief that I was doing every thing right. Then half way into the round an extraordinary thing happened, I stopped seeing the side of the barrel and my left eye took over. In fact I have since shouldered the gun right handed and my right eye will not align to the barrel. My point is this is not a quick fix but it can be done! I hope this helps.

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