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?
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.
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:
- Pick an object in the distance to “aim” at, such as a light fixture, picture, or door knob.
- Make a circle with your thumb and index finger, holding it away from your face.
- Center the circle around that object, as though framing it in a picture.
- Close one eye, then the other. Whichever eye keeps the object within the circle is your dominant eye.
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.
704 Tactical Shooting with AT3 RD-50 Micro Red Dot SightExperimenting 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.
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
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