Cross Dominance | Shooting Vision 101

Cross dominance happens when both eyes are dominant.  It can be tricky getting the perfect shot, but Annette Evans of Target Barn has some good advice on how to handle it.

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With two eyes, we have binocular vision, but only one eye can line the sight in with the target while you’re shooting. Similar to how people are right or left-handed, people can also have a dominant eye, even when the vision of the two eyes is equal. This is called “Eyedness.” In shooting, it is important to know which eye is dominant because it can be directly related to performance levels.  The eye that sits over the rib of the firearm is the one that directs the shot to the target.  If the brain is taking information from the eye that isn’t looking down the rib of the firearm, the target will be missed.

Many people will find that they are dominant in one eye or the other. However, there are some who will find that their vision is equally dominant in both eyes. This means that either of the two eyes can be used for shooting.

So how do you find out which eye you should use for shooting?

Annette Evans wrote a guide on how to determine eyedness on Target Barn. She says,

“One of the simplest is to make a tiny triangle with your hands, stick your arms out straight, and look through that window to a small object in the distance. Now close one eye. Do you still see it? If yes, your open eye is your dominant eye.”

Image of using hands to determine vision dominance
Vision dominance test. Photo Credit, Target Barn.

Cross Dominance is a Little More Tricky

Most people have the same hand and eye dominance: right hand and eye, or left hand and eye.  But some are cross dominant: right hand with left eye, or left hand with right eye. People who find that they have hand and eye cross dominance will need to utilize strategies for effective shooting.  Evans explains several strategies in the guide.  These strategies include:

  • Close one eye
  • Cover the lens of your eye protection
  • Turn or tilt your head
  • Hold the gun at a slight angle
  • Shift the gun position

Most pistols and accessories are designed for right-hand use, though some work well for ambidextrous people. Shooting a rifle or shotgun, however, proves to be more difficult for those with cross dominance. According to Evans,

“With those, it’s much harder to contort the head to the gun because the stock is in the way, and most of the hardware solutions to put sighting systems in front of the eye opposite the shoulder being used are pretty specialized.”

Image of man shooting long gun
Shooting a long gun. Photo credit, Target Barn.

Strategies for shooting a long gun are more limited for those with cross dominance:

  • Shoot with the non-dominant eye, by closing or obscuring the dominant eye
  • Shoot on the side of the non-dominant hand.
  • Make use of a red dot optic so that your dominant eye can see the target, the non-dominant eye can see the dot, and  your brain can superimpose one on top of the other.

Evans created this short video to demonstrate various strategies in dealing with cross dominance shooting. You can read the full guide in her article Shooting Vision 101: Cross Dominance.

“Cross-dominance is sometimes presented as a major shooting challenge, but as you can see, it doesn’t be hard to live with and you can still be an excellent shooter with it.”

Read more about shooting techniques and concerns:

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Stephanie Kimmell

Stephanie Kimmell is the firstborn daughter of Missouri's Pecan King, worthy scion of a Vietnam veteran sailor turned mad engineer-orchardist-inventor-genius. Formerly a Certified Professional Midwife, delivering babies at home, she's now a student at Pittsburgh State University. A Zymurgist greatly interested in the decoction of fermented barley and hops, she is in many ways a modern amalgam of Esther Hobart Morris, Rebecca Boone, and Nellie Bly. She hunts, butchers, and will cook most anything. When not studying or writing, she makes soaps and salves, spins wool, and occasionally makes cheese from cows she milked herself. Kimmell is a driven epistemophilic who loves live music and all sorts of beer. It will be interesting indeed to see what she writes in the coming days.

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