By Richard Douglas, ScopesField.com
Did you know that, just like your hands and feet, one of your eyes is more dominant than the other? You probably never even thought about it because you make your way through the world with both of them open. But what about the people who, for whatever reason, don’t? I’m talking about people such as archers, hunters, long range shooters, pool players, even photographers. For them it is critical that they can align a target and execute the shot. For most of us, our dominant eye is on the same side as our dominant hand. But imagine for a second how difficult aiming would be if a right-handed person had a dominant left eye, or vice versa? It turns out this happens to a lot of people, and it’s called cross-eye (or odd-eye) dominance. And they might not even know it! Even crazier, you might even be one of them. Take a few seconds and perform this test to know which of your eyes is dominant.
Eye Dominance Test
- Focus your eyes on a relatively small object in the near distance, such as a ceiling fan, a fruit bowl — really anything that can fit inside the frame you’re about to make with your fingers.
- Slowly connect your fingers of both hands around the background object to form a trianglular hand symbol.
- Then, center the object inside the triangle (as if you’re taking a photo).
- Finally, close one eye. Open it and close the other eye. Whichever eye keeps the object in the center is the dominant eye.
How To Correct For Cross-Eye Dominance When Shooting
So what do you do if you find out you’re one of the unlucky few who have this problem? The simplest way to compensate for cross-eye dominance is by closing the dominant eye when shooting. This can prove difficult to do, however, because your facial muscles will have to work harder to keep that eye closed and it limits the amount of light you let in, ultimately hurting accuracy.
With pistols, it’s a bit easier. Simply touch your chin to your dominant hand’s shoulder when you shoot. If you’re right-handed but left-eye dominant, for example, get a good two-handed grip in your right hand and touch your chin to your right shoulder. Aim with your left eye.
You can also train your body to overcome it. Of course, this is more demanding and requires more patience than merely closing an eye, but if it works for you then you can join the ranks of the lucky majority. There are two things you can train; either your weaker eye or your weaker hand.
Practice Shooting With Your Other Hand
Learning to shoot offhand is an important skill to have anyway, so this comes highly recommended. Take your time, no matter how weird it feels at first, and focus on performing each movement with perfect form. Speed is sin here. One of the many marvelous things about our body is our ability to learn through muscle memory. Perform a movement enough and your body will develop the necessary neural pathways (memory) to help you do it more efficiently, precisely, and gracefully over time. The pace should be painfully slow with painstakingly good form, and your body will slowly master it.
Train Your Non-Dominant Eye
Training the non-dominant eye, on the other hand (pun slightly intended), takes time and patience, and the results vary quite a bit. Some people have no success with it; others do. Some who did have success later reported that once they resumed a normal life their newly trained eyes reverted to their natural dominance. Splitting headaches were about the only thing consistently reported. That disclaimer out of the way, the idea behind training the eye is to reduce the use of your dominant eye over time to force your non-dominant to step up to the plate. Lots of folks do this by wearing an eye patch while others might just stick a piece of tape or specially designed stickers over their protective eyewear when shooting. The tape is a hasty and nearly free way to do it, but it works by blocking the dominant eye from being able to see. The stickers may cost a tad more, but they are still inexpensive and are designed with louvres or translucent dotting to subtly blur or otherwise impede the image seen through the dominant eye. This way you still keep both eyes open, allowing all the light in, but the weaker eye asserts itself and prevails.
Use A Red Dot Sight
The more costly but all-around best way to overcome this is with a red-dot optic. Apart from the numerous reasons why a red-dot optic is already one of the best upgrades for your weapon, it is also the single best measure you can take to completely correct for cross-eye dominance. Without getting too much into it, the way the optic works makes it so that the dot is true. This means that no matter how much your eye moves relative to the scope, your round will still hit wherever you were aiming.
And that’s it. Just pick a method we covered above and practice. You’ll soon be able to overcome cross-eye dominance in no time.
Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared on large publications like The National Interest, Daily Caller, American Shooting Journal, and more. In his free time, he reviews various optics on his Scopes Field blog. Click here to visit ScopesField.com.