Cross-Eye Dominance – The Way I See It

It is claimed that two-thirds of people are right-eye dominant, approximately one-third of people are left-eye dominant, and a small percentage of people exhibit dominance in neither eye.

In my early years of shooting, I was never aware of eye-dominance. I shot right handed and usually closed my left eye when doing so. I was introduced to shooting with both eyes open at some time later and struggled with shooting a handgun because of my cross-eye dominance, which I really did not fully understand at the time. I still shot long guns right handed and with one eye closed in order to focus on the sights and the target.

It really was not until way later that I discovered I was cross-eye dominant.

Ocular dominance, according to Wikipedia.com, is the tendency to prefer visual input from one eye to the other. It is somewhat analogous to the laterality of right- or left-handedness; however, the side of the dominant eye and the dominant hand do not always match, and this is true in my case. I am right-handed, but my dominant eye is my left eye.

When taking a modified “Weaver” shooting stance, while shooting a handgun, my left-eye dominance is more noticeable than when I assume a “Isosceles” stance; Perhaps, because I can easily shift the focus to the left eye quickly when locked into the stance. With the modified “Weaver” I must tilt my head slightly or partially close my right eye. With “snap” shooting, I usually do not have much of a problem, as the shot is taken as soon as a proper sight picture and alignment with the POA is achieved. It is only if I am deliberately slow shooting that my cross-eye dominance takes an affect on my shooting. At times, I may have to look away from the sights, or shift the handgun out and then back into my line of sight.

Ever since an injury to the right clavicle, I have been forced to shot long guns left-handed – my weak side. I still shoot hand guns right handed, but do try to shoot weak-side as often as I feel necessary. Of course, shooting left-handed has a different feel to it due to muscle memory and other factors when shooting a hand gun. I shoot a long gun weak side with no issues.

I have found that I can shoot a long gun that has a “peep” or “ghost” site that is close to my face, with both eyes open, without any eye-dominance issues. The “peep” or “ghost” sight forces the dominant eye to work. I also have no issues with red dot or reflex sights shooting left handed. Again, they force the dominant eye to work to my advantage. Even a reflex or dot sight mounted on a hand gun, when firing left-handed, provides no issues for me. It is all very perplexing, I have to say.

It is said that you can “train” an eye to become the dominant eye. Eye dominance can also be cured through surgery.

To complicate matters, I am near-sighted and must wear corrective lenses. I also have astigmatism in my dominant eye, which means that the red dot in a dot sight is not a dot, but is of an irregular pattern. Usually, I just place the largest part of the irregular pattern on my POA and things work out.

Being cross-eye dominant is not a scourge or cause for discouragement; it is just something that we, as shooters, have to work with and through to become better shooters. In fact, I have found that shooting left-handed, while being right-handed offers some benefits when running a long gun; semi-automatic, bolt-action, pump-action, no matter. The strong side is actually doing all of the work; working the bolt, working the pump handle, working magazine exchanges, stuffing the feed tube, etc., while all the left hand has to do is support the long gun and operate the trigger, and sometimes the safety depending on where the safety is located (on ling guns I usually find working the safety with my strong hand works out well). I find it easier to operate my AK variant and MSR while shooting weak side over shooting strong side. With some operations I am slower, and with some operations I am faster; it all works out in the end.

If you are cross-eye dominant, make it work for you; turn what is perceived as a negative into a positive.

If you have yet to determine which eye is your dominant eye, here is a quick method (of several) to help you:

The Miles test. Extends both arms, brings both hands together to create a small opening. Then, with both eyes open, view a distant object through the opening. Alternate closing the eyes or slowly pull the opening back to the head to determine which eye is viewing the object (i.e. the dominant eye). The dominant eye is the one with which the “target” does not shift from view through the opening.

I mentioned earlier that an eye can be trained to become the dominant eye. This involves wearing an eye patch over time to force the opposite eye to become the dominant eye, as it is used 100% of the time for seeing. Of course, you may find yourself wanting a Parrot perched on your shoulder and a desire to binge watch the entire “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy over and over.

It should be obvious that if you close one eye, the eye that is open is the dominant eye and cross-eye dominance does not exist.

There is another condition known as “Lazy eye.” Signs and symptoms of lazy eye include:

  • An eye that wanders inward or outward
  • Eyes that appear to not work together
  • Poor depth perception
  • Squinting or shutting an eye
  • Head tilting
  • Abnormal results of vision screening tests

Usually, “Lazy eye” is discovered in childhood, but age or damage to one eye can be a factor with a “Lazy eye.” One of the more popular actors that suffered from “Lazy Eye” was Jack Elam. His “lazy eye” was brought on by a childhood accident to his left eye, which resulted in blindness in that eye. Normally, the brain will disregard input from the “Lazy eye” that can, in the worst case, result in blindness in that eye. Sometimes lazy eye is not evident without an eye exam.

As operators of firearms, it behooves us to keep our eyes in shape. I will be going for an eye exam shortly – something that I have put off, but that is a mistake that is soon to be rectified. Is an eye exam something you should be looking at?

As one of my readers pointed out, there is also the option of training the side of the dominant eye. In other words, if you are left-handed, but right-eye dominant (or if the reverse is true), learn to shoot on the same side as your dominant eye.  This is much easier than trying to “train” a non-dominant eye to become the dominant eye. Yes, it does take some effort, as I have learned while learning to shoot long guns on my “weak side” that is the same side as my dominant left-eye.  When shooting handguns, shooting with your weak hand will feel strange until the shooting position; grip, stance, et cetera, starts to feel “normal.”

Another option is to use “filters” on your shooting glasses.

Most experienced shooters know that shooting with both eyes open provides better depth perception, field of view and peripheral vision. When a shooter’s dominant hand and eye are not the same, this can cause problems with seeing more than one target or one that is out of focus.

OFFEYE Optical Filters address this problem by covering the lens of your shooting glasses on the off-side dominant eye, allowing the other eye to do most of the work in aiming. OFFEYE Optical Filters come in three kits to allow shooters to customize how much shading they need to shoot effectively. A Fit Kit is available with different amounts of shading to help choose the proper design needed. A Frost Kit and 40/60/80 Kit are also available. OFFEYE Optical Filters are constructed of a removable, reusable vinyl cling material that will fit all types of eye protection.

Source: Shoot With Both Eyes Open Using OFFEYE Optical Filters From Birchwood Casey: http://www.ammoland.com/2017/02/shoot-with-both-eyes-open-using-offeye-optical-filters-from-birchwood-casey/?utm_source=Ammoland+Subscribers&utm_campaign=18be5d3cdb-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6f6fac3eaa-18be5d3cdb-20763529

About Taurian

Taurian is a U.S. Army veteran and former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Taurian also has over fifty years of experience as a Technical Writer and Training Program Developer. After leaving home at the age of ten without any shoes, Taurian continues on with many years devoted to the keeping and bearing of arms.

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