UNDERSTANDING EYE DOMINANCE TO BECOME A BETTER SHOOTER
By Brad Fitzpatrick
My wife is a very competitive person, so when she started shooting trap and couldn’t hit any of the targets she quickly became frustrated. I couldn’t understand the problem—she was an excellent athlete with very good hand-eye coordination, but she couldn’t hit the most basic straightaway targets. I’d never met anyone that had so much trouble getting on target, and needless to say she didn’t look forward to going to the range.
One of my wife’s major complaints was that she was seeing two beads on the shotgun. Since the gun only had one bead I couldn’t understand the issue. But the two-bead problem continued to plague her, and I finally realized why she was having so much trouble—she was cross-dominant.
The vast majority of people have a dominant eye, and sometimes your dominant eye is on the opposite side of the body from your dominant hand. The condition is known as cross-dominance, and in my wife’s case she is right-handed but left eye dominant. So, how do you know if you are cross dominant, and what can be done to remedy the problem?
IDENTIFYING EYE DOMINANCE
No matter whether you’re a target shooter or you hunt ducks, deer, or turkeys, eye dominance matters. The first step is to identify which eye is dominant—a process that takes just a few seconds and can be accomplished almost anywhere. One common method is to select an object in the distance and point your finger at that object. The item should be a bit above you so that you are pointing up. Street lights and wall-mounted clocks work well. Holding your finger under the object, close one eye and then another. Odds are that the position of your finger relative to the object will move significantly when you close one eye. When that happens you are looking through your weak eye. When your finger stays under the object at which you are pointing you are looking with your dominant eye. Another way to identify your dominant eye is to select an object and place both hands overlapping with the palms out in front of you so the object is positioned in the triangle created by your thumbs and hands. Keep the object in the center of the triangle that you have created and bring your hands back toward your face, always keeping the object in the center of the triangle (see photo). If you keep the object in the center of the triangle and draw your hands closer to your face your hands will come back toward your dominant eye.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU ARE CROSS-DOMINANT
If your dominant eye and dominant hand are on the same side of your body then you’re fortunate, but if you are cross-dominant you’ll have to address the situation. There are a few options. The best is to learn to shoot with your weak-hand—that’s what my wife did. Even though she’s right-handed she now shoots her shotgun left-handed, and since making the switch she’s become a fantastic clays shooter. The other option is to block your dominant eye when shooting. If I am right-handed and left-eye dominant, the easiest way for me to do that is to close my left eye when I shoot. It’s not ideal because you lose a percentage of your peripheral vision, but it will make it possible to aim quickly without getting double-vision. Another option is to place a piece of tape or smudge petroleum jelly on the lens of the shooting glass over your dominant eye. This causes you to focus on the sights and target with your weak eye and allows you to shoot accurately with your strong hand.