At the beginning of every lesson, the first thing I do is check eye dominance. Knowing eye dominance is important to becoming an accurate shot in many shooting disciplines.
What is eye dominance?
Just like being left or right handed, people are either left-eye or right-eye dominant. With both eyes open, we don’t realize that one of our eyes is controlling the majority of what we see. Our mind and body prefer visual input from one eye to the other. In normal binocular (both eyes open) vision, the dominant eye is the one that is primarily depended on for precise position information. If you instruct a large number of students like I do, you will find a surprising percentage is cross dominant.
How do you determine eye dominance?
No special tools are needed to determine eye dominance. Simply put your hands together and make a small circle. With both eyes open, look at a distant object. Keeping both eyes open, place the object in the circle that was created with your two outstretched hands. Bring your hands back to your face, maintaining the object in the circle. Whatever eye your hands come back to is your dominant eye. Hopefully, your hand came back to the eye that is the same side as your dominant hand. If not, your cross-eye dominant. Statistics show about ⅓ of the shooting population is cross-eye dominant. Less than one percent of people have split vision, where both eyes play the dominant role equally.
What’s the beautiful thing about shooting handguns? The gun is fixed to your body by your hands. Your arms are stretched out in front of you. The gun can move around side to side freely simply by moving your hands side to side. This helps you get the gun in front of your dominant eye. By simply changing your stance or tilting the gun slightly toward your dominant eye, you obtain the proper sight picture needed for accurate shooting. Whatever you do, don’t close an eye. You lose depth perception as well as the majority of your peripheral vision.
This is where things get difficult. The gun is fixed to your dominant-side shoulder. A cross-eyed dominant shooter is going to be looking down the side of the gun when they mount the gun, put cheek to stock, and look with both eyes open. Why? The eye that’s not in line with the gun is controlling vision.
That’s when people start closing an eye. That’s not good. Remember, you lose your depth perception and half of your vision when you do so.
It will be hard to pick up fast-moving targets. People who shoot closing an eye can become decent shots, but they usually plateau short of where they want to be. The solution: Switch to the side of your dominant eye. If you’re right handed but left-eye dominant, shoot left handed. It feels awkward at first, but with time, it will become natural. It’s amazing how fast people pick up on the switch and begin blowing their once-high scores out of the water.