14 thoughts on “How to fix cross-eye dominance for handgun shooters”

  1. Thank you, Caleb! This is EXACTLY how I teach it to shooters (and how John Holschen taught me).

    1. That’s where I learned it as well – I’d never really seen it as an issue before. There was a guy in a class I took from InSights who was cross-dominant and all messed up, John had him move the gun three inches and it was like a miracle.

  2. if every firearm you own is a handgun and you have no interest in competence with rifles or especially shotguns, this line of reasoning makes some sense.

    I guess I’m lucky. My master eye is on the left side of my head. I write, throw, bat and play guitar right handed. When relatives started giving me cap pistols, rifles and squirt guns way before kindergarten, I naturally, instinctively went to my left side and they didn’t try to “correct” me.

    My opinion? If your master eye is on one side and you’re shooting from the other side it might have been imposed on you and you may want to at least try shooting from you strong vision side.

    It’s easy enough to move a handgun three inches. Try that with a rifle. Or a shotgun. You can skip that and close your master eye, but then you lose your depth perception and are seeing with your weaker eye. Works after a fashion for shooting with a scoped rifle. Not so cool with close range iron sight carbine shooting where you’d like to have all your vision capability instead of half of it.

    Finally, If you wish to hit moving/flying targets with a shotgun and both eyes open (best way to do it) and you’re shouldering the shotgun on your weak vision side? You are probably wasting your time.

    1. I disagree, Robbie, but perhaps I should offer qualification. Like you, I am RH (mostly) and Left eye dominant (I write left handed, but do everything else right handed, I have no idea why). I agree that shouldering a long arm on your strong side is optimal, but over my years, I’d had to deal with being handed right-hand oriented rifles (and shotguns) and really needed to shoot RH. What I learned, over time, was that eye dominance is something of an illusion (again, I learned this from John Holschen). If you’re Right dominant, and you approach a barrier that’s on your right, technically you lose all your “dominance” advantage. But that’s not how our brain works, it simply shifts dominance to the left side. If you are conscious of the event, it feels almost disorienting. The reality is that we can train ourselves to adjust dominance. It is VERY true it won’t be as “natural” as if you did “same side” adjustment, but you can learn to “relax” your dominant eye to let the non-dominant/strong side take over. Not really closing the dominant eye, but relaxing the eyelid enough to force the brain to say, “Oh, other eye needs to take over.” When first doing this, it is a VERY odd sensation, not unlike learning to form chords on a guitar and strumming with the other hand, but it CAN be done with the right kind of practice (and hey, who wouldn’t want to say, “I gotta spend more time at the range practicing my eye-dominance shifting”? ).

      Good firearms training actually should entail strong and weak hand/side shooting, and with that a conscious training of eye dominance (as I’ve implied, barriers really help). Try it, you’ll be surprised 🙂

      Note: You can try this trick with the old “how to check your eye dominance” test (i.e., http://petapixel.com/2012/06/05/a-quick-trick-for-figuring-out-which-of-your-eyes-is-dominant/). Learn how to “relax” your dominant eye until your hands come into your non-dominant eye. It’s a weird bit of brain-training, but very (if you’ll pardon the pun) eye-opening 🙂

      1. David;

        I appreciate both the content and spirit of your post. Like I said, I’m lucky. When i was about 3, my grandfather who was a magnificent wing shooter with his 12 ga. Parker SxS noticed that while I did most things right handed, I picked up and aimed my toy guns left handed. He gave me the vision test you linked, recognized I was left eye dominant, told me I was good to go and told everyone else to leave me alone. So I’ve never needed to compensate. Limits my choice of bolt action sporting rifles but that’s about it.

        I’ve tried, just for the heck of it, shooing right hand/right eye. I’ve tried concentrating on my right eye, relaxing my left eye, turning my head 45-60 degrees etc. Short of closing my left eye or as you mentioned shooting with my right eye exposed and left behind a barrier, it doesn’t work for me.

        It might work for you or somebody else, I understand there are ways to compensate, but should shouldn’t the first attempted compensation be trying shooting from your dominant side and see if you can get used to and comfortable with it? If you can, all the other problems go away. If you can’t, you’re just back where you were anyway.

      2. Hey David;

        You taught me something today. I re-read your post and I’ve been playing with a pistol on the right side. If I close my left eye as I bring the sights on target and then open it about half way, I can keep the right eye acting dominant for 6 or 8 seconds before the left one takes over again.

        I don’t have reason to, but it seems possible I could train myself to shoot right side/right eye. At the same time I don’t see why it should be anymore difficult for someone cross eye dominant to switch shooting hands/shoulders or why they shouldn’t try.

        1. Your general observation is correct though — if you have a LH rifle/shotgun, there’s no need to retrain your eye dominance – it would be detrimental. This hasn’t been my experience though. My military shooting days showed me that _most_ rifles you pick up will expect you to shoot right-handed by design(or as the M1 instructor told me, “You will shoot right-handed, as God intended you to!” 🙂 ). This is especially true of bullpups. The important thing to remember from our discussion (as you’re seeing) is that eye dominance isn’t a “fixed” thing, and that your brain can adjust situationally.

          Totally pointless trivia: In the awful, awful movie, “Fire Birds”, starring Nicholas Cage, they teach him to be a better Apache pilot by forcing him to change his eye dominance from left to right. Do NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to apply the method they use 🙂

          1. I’m happy shooting portside, just wanted to credit you for saying a switch is possible.

            My bolt rifles are left handed, doesn’t matter to me on any other action type. Only other hiccup is one shotgun with a trigger guard cross bolt safety. It’s reversable, but I don’t like those right or left.

            Never seen that movie and given your review I think I’ll leave it that way.

  3. I’m amazed to discover that this is ever an issue. I’m exceedingly … what was your term? ….”cross eye dominant” and I’ve been shooting (hunting, plinking, competition, etc.) handguns, rifles and shotguns for over 60 years. Pistols? No problem. You’re right, just move the pistol to line up the sights with the eye you shoot best with.

    Rifles and shotguns? How many eyes line up with the sights? Correct; the only eye you can see both the rear and front sights. Okay, it might be confusing the first few times with shotguns because of the usual lack of a clear rear sight,, but you can train yourself to look for sight alignment. (With rifles, scopes make this easier but iron sights can be mastered; after all, you have all the time you need both on the range and at home to practice ‘forcing’ your brain to look for the sight picture.)

    Actually, if you see better with your cross-dominant eye than with your “convenient eye”, that provides an advantage when looking for your target. This is especially true when hunting with a rifle, where the background might be a confusing montage of objects which are inconsequential to your target.

    Shooting IPSC pistols, I sometimes find it advantageous to close my right eye so I can quickly index between a number of targets, because it takes too long to sort out conflicting images; With the left (dominant) eye the only source of an image, the only limit to my ability to find and align my sights with my intended target is the other shooting skills I bring to the game.

    And yes, I do agree; anyone who tells you to shoot with your “off” hand merely because of cross-eye dominance is someone you should never invite to your Christmas Party.

  4. I’m already booked up for Christmas, Jerry, but serious question…If you can train the other eye to sight, why can’t you train the other hand to hold the gun and press the trigger?

    I understand if people don’t want to and that’s fine by me, but why “shouldn’t” they if they wish to? Is it in the Bible or something?

    If someone tries it for a week or two and finds it’s working for them, I don’t understand what the problem is.

  5. Thanks for this. My first IDPA match one of the SO’s recommended to me that I put some tape over the right side of my eye pro to handle my right handed left eye dominant “issue.” I don’t put tape on anything. I move the gun since my eye is more difficult to move. For long guns I have just switched hands from right handed to left handed.

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