We all have a dominant eye — similar to a dominant hand.
For many, the hand and eye dominance is the same. For example, if the right hand is dominant, then the right eye is dominant.
However, there are some that have it opposite. Or when your hand and eye dominance is flipped. This is called cross-dominance. An example would be if the right hand is dominant, then the left eye is dominant.
Figuring out which is eye is dominant is crucial to accuracy. It doesn’t matter if you have the best scope for AR-10 or a great red dot, you’ll still miss your shot if you don’t use your dominant eye.
You might be wondering: how do you determine which eye is dominant? By doing the eye dominance test.
4-Step Eye Dominance Test
Step 1: Find an object to aim at. (Ex: Picture, trash can, door knob)
Step 2: Make a triangular hand symbol.
Step 3: Then, center the object inside the triangular opening as if you’re taking a picture of it.
Step 4: Now close one eye. Then the other eye. Whichever eye keeps the object within the center is the dominant eye.
Still unsure on how to do the eye dominance test? Watch this quick video:
So, now that you’ve gotten your dominant eye, you will fall in one of the following three categories:
- Regular-Eyed Dominant: Your hand and eye dominance is the same. This is very common (about ⅔ of the population is). This makes shooting a bit easier.
- Cross-Eyed Dominant: Your hand and eye dominance are opposite. This is a little less common (about ⅓ of the population is). This makes shooting a bit harder.
- Balanced Visual Acuity: You don’t have a dominant eye. They’re both equal. You’re a very, very lucky duck.
If you fall in either category 1 or 3, you should consider yourself lucky. For the unlucky third that are in number 2, you’re going to need some tips on on shooting with cross-eyed dominance.
How To Shoot Cross-Eyed Dominant
Cross-eye dominance can ruin your shots. But luckily, there’s a workaround.
The workaround will depend on what firearm type you’re using. For now, let’s start with the most common firearm type.
When you go to aim your pistol with your dominant hand, your pistol won’t line up with your cross-dominant eye. This leads to missed shots. So, what do you do about this? There’s two effective methods to overcome this:
The first method is where you keep your head straight and move your pistol over to your cross-dominant eye. That way, your cross-dominant eye can see the sight.
However, there’s a problem with this method. Your arm isn’t going to be completely even with your body. So it’ll feel a bit weird at first, but with time and practice you’ll get used to it.
Alternatively, you can go with the second method. This is where you slightly tilt your head over, so your cross-dominant eye is centered with your body. You can use your belly button as a reference point.
The method is very easy-to-do and requires very little training to do. That said, either method works to correct pistol cross-eyed dominance. But, one method that will NOT work is using...
Some people wrongly believe pistol optics (like RMRs) solve cross-eyed dominance. That’s completely false. Why?
You can’t see the pistol’s red dot with both eyes open. The viewing window is just too small. So you end up having to use your dominant eye — in this case your cross-dominant eye — to shoot.
Don’t get me wrong: red dots do make shooting a bit easier, but it won’t help cross-eyed dominance. The only solution is to use the aforementioned methods. However, for rifles, you can use a much lazier approach.
Here are the two approaches you can use based on distance.
- Close-Range: Use a red dot.
- Longer-Range: Shut your dominant eye.
Let’s start with the close-range solution…
Use A Red Dot
Rifle red dots actually solve cross-eyed dominance. The reason?
Because you can keep both eyes open while shooting. This allows your non-dominant eye to focus on the reticle while the dominant eye focuses on the target.
It’s no wonder the military uses red dots and ACOGs — it improves accuracy for every kind of shooter. However, if you’re using a higher magnification rifle scope, you’ll likely need to…
Shut Your Dominant Eye
The way to do this is simple.
Simply shut your dominant eye and shoot with your non-dominant eye (usually your left). This will feel a bit awkward at first, but your eye’s visual processing centers will quickly adjust.
When it has, closing your dominant eye for longer-range shots will become second-hand nature. If this doesn’t work for you, you can try shooting with your non-dominant hand. This works, but let’s be honest:
It isn’t easy. After all, most people naturally shoot better with their dominant hand, as they have better control of that hand. And that’s all there is to shooting when you’re cross-eyed dominant. So as a quick recap:
If you’re using a rifle, use a red dot for close-range shots. For longer-range shots, close your non-dominant eye.
For pistols, slightly tilt your head, so your cross-dominant eye is centered with your body. Use your belly button as a reference point.
That’s it. But one last thing...
Don’t View Cross-Eye Dominance As A Curse
It’s true, cross-eyed dominance is a minor limitation.
However, don’t let it get in the way. Fact is, some of the best shooters in the world are cross-eyed dominant.
If they’re able to overcome it, you can, too. All you need to do is understand the methods above and practice it. With a bit of time and practice, you’ll turn your limitation into your greatest asset.
Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared on large gun publications like The National Interest, Daily Caller, ODU Magazine, American Shooting Journal, SOFREP and more. In his free time, he reviews various optics and guns on his Scopes Field blog.