Dominant Eye and Shooting
Being a lefty or a righty is not something you think about. You just are left or right-handed. You have a righty or lefty eye as well, but your dominant eye may not be the same as your dominant hand.
Not many of us are good with our non-dominant hand. Think about everyday jobs and how hard they would be with your non-dominant hand. Brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, wiping your butt, or writing your name, the non-dominate hand is just not up to the job. So, it would make sense that shooting would be no different, right?
A factor that you have to add to left or right-handed shooting is eyesight. According to Wikipedia, approximately 70% of the population are right-eye dominant and 29% left-eye dominant. You may assume that your dominant eye matches your dominant hand. This is not always the case.
Before you go any further let’s do the dominant eye check.
Make a small triangle hole with your hands.
With your arms out straight, and both eyes open, focus on a small feature on the wall. A light switch is great.
Now with out moving, close one eye.
Do you still see the switch?
With out moving, swap the closed eye.
Do you still see the switch?
It will be a dramatic difference and the switch will look like it moved a mile. Which eye do you see it with? Does it match your dominant hand?
What if they do not match?
If your eye dominance and hand dominance do not match you will need to train either your eyes or your body to line them up. You will shoot better when your hand and eye line up.
Training your eyes.
If you have cross-eye dominance, you can try and retrain your eyes. By using a sticker on your dominant eye when shooting it will force you to use the eye that matches your grip. You can use a sticker that you can still see through, but that will not let you focus. If this lets you line up with the sights, great. But if you are still trying to see with the other eye, even when it is covered, you will need to train your body.
If a sticker works for you then you could look into a reusable eye covering.
If you need to train your eyes or it helps you when one is covered, get this set of flip-up eye patches.
Shooting with Both Eyes Open
For some people, they can work with both eyes open and take in more information. Try using both eyes and see if you can still see the sights and target. With practice, you can focus on one eye over the other, and even switch what you see with both eyes open.
Again, if you cannot see what you need to then you will need help to re-train your eyes or your body.
These patches are made to help you shoot with both eyes open. You can judge moving targets better, and be more aware of your surroundings with both eyes open. See if they work for you.
These cling film covers can be reused on your safety glasses. The grid pattern can aid how you see with both eyes open when you are shooting.
Training your body.
Old habits die hard. Think about writing your name again, it will feel very uncomfortable to re-train your body. Any
A mirror might be a help when you look at your new stance and hold. Lots of guns have features that are ambidextrous. Check that your firearm can function with either hand. See if the safety lever and mag release are ambidextrous.
Left or Right-Handed Gun?
If the features do not work from either side, inspect the firearm to see if they are transferable. You may need to look up your make and model to see what parts may be required to swap them over. Somethings like the bolt action on a long gun are made left or right and not something you can swap over easily. On a bolt-action rifle, you are going to need to work around with what you got.
Work on your hold, dry fire practice, and stance until you feel ready to try firing your gun. Be kind to yourself when you first try swapping your dominant hand. It is like starting again, but your eye should feel comfortable and line up with the sites now.
Pistol Shooting with your Dominant Eye.
Because you are not shouldering a pistol, generally, you can adapt your body to use either eye easier than with a rifle. With the right stance you can move your pistol to line up with your dominant eye, and use your regular hand to hold and fire.
The Isosceles stance is going to be your go-to pistol position. Because you are centrally locating your pistol you can just line it up with the good eye. With your arms straight out it is only a small adjustment.
This is good for a casual shooter or self-defense
Rifle Shooting with your Dominant Eye.
When it comes to rifle shooting and a miss-match in the dominant eye to hand dominance, it is much more pronounced. It is quite a small area that your eye needs to land to be able to see down a scope.
Eye relief is the distance from your eye to the scope and this is a fine adjustment from seeing nothing to a full view in the scope.
I have trouble closing my non-dominate eye when looking down the scope. This causes my face to cramp up a bit and I have experimented with leaving both eyes open to relive the eye strain. Putting a sticker over my non-dominant eye also helped me relax and focus on the scope.
Work on holding your rifle with your non-dominate hand. Shouldering will feel difficult at first, but your eye and head lined up on the gun it will be better.
This shooter is using his left hand and left dominant eye to shoot, but because his bolt action is on the right side he is reloading with his right hand. Time and repetition will make you smooth. Slow is fast, fast is smooth, smooth is accurate.
Get out and shoot
We have been shooting with friends, some starting out, some shooting for a while, where they seemed to be having trouble getting on target. When we looked at their bodies the clues were there to see. Our friends were twisting their bodies and were offline. They looked uncomfortable lining up with the scopes or sights.
So, the first thing we did was the eye test at the top of the article. Low and behold their dominant eye and dominant hand did not match up. Only one of them knew this about themselves as they had injured a shoulder in the past and chose to shoot with their non-dominate hand.
Get out and shoot with a friend
When you have a coach or trainer they can look at your form and see what can be improved. This is true for lots of sports and why it helps to take videos of yourself in action, so you too can see what your posture looks like.
After struggling to get on target at 100 meters we tested our friend’s eye dominance, as stated above. And even though it felt uncomfortable our right-handed friend, he shouldered his gun on the left to match his dominant eye. The rings from the rounds hitting steel did not lie. It was “eye-opening” for him.
What to do when your dominant eye does not match your dominant hand
I hope I have given you tips to try when your eye and hand are in opposition. Don’t be too hard on yourself and do what works for you.
If you can train your eyes, you will have fewer changes to make, then
Repetition is the key to any