My Blog List

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dominant Eye

I have been having what (to me) seems to be a large number of firearms students that don't know which of their eyes is their dominant eye.  What's the 'dominant eye'?  The NRA states -
This term is used to designate the eye which determines the direction the shooter is looking.

It's the eye you aim with!

Supposedly, most right-handed shooters are right-eye dominant.  The opposite goes for left-handed shooters.  With cross-dominant people, a right-handed shooter has a stronger left eye.

If you are not aware of this, your aim can be seriously affected.  I am cross-dominant (right-handed, left-eyed).  Until I became aware of this and was able to make adjustments to my shooting style, my accuracy was not up to a level I wanted.  It makes it very difficult to get a proper sight picture with both eyes open.

So how do you determine your dominant eye?  It's very easy.

Choose a smallish fixed object perhaps 20 feet away from you - a light switch or an object in a painting - that is directly in front of you.

Put both arms out in front of you with your palms facing away.  Bring your hands together, leaving a small hole between them.  Center the object you're looking at in this hole in your hands.

With both eyes open, slowly bring your hands towards your face, keeping the object in the center of the hole.  When your hands reach your face, they will naturally move towards your dominant eye.

So, what do you do if you're cross-dominant like me?

There are three proscribed solutions:
  1. Shoot from the other side - meaning if you are left-eye dominant, shoot with a left-handed stance;
  2. Slightly move your entire arm and hand presentation to the left side of your body, or
  3. Slightly cant your head to the right, which brings your left eye more to the center of the target at which you're aiming.
Solution one, is probably the best "pure" solution, but isn't practical, IMO.  If you are in a high-stress situation, you're going to grab a gun with your strong hand - dominant eye be damned.  If you're shooting strictly for target accuracy competitions, it's probably the way to go.

And of course, EVERYONE should be proficient with their strong and weak hands, but that's the subject for another post!

Solution two, at least for me, just wasn't accurate enough.  It seems to take too much fine motor skill adjustment that results in inconsistent accuracy.  I find this to be the least desirable solution.

Solution three is what I feel to be the best overall solution.  I personally find that I am able to very quickly cant my head to align my sights.  It now happens automatically when I present my firearm.

I have found this third solution to be most easily accepted and practiced by my students as well.

Accept The Challenge

If you have taken the very responsible action to learn how to use a firearm, you need to ensure you will be able to hit where you're aiming.  Simply picking up a gun and firing away is unacceptable.

Determine your dominant eye.  If you're cross-dominant, accept the fact, and adjust your regular training so that you are able to seamlessly present the firearm and accurately hit your target.

Practice, practice, practice until your chosen adjustment becomes natural.
Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


kymber said...

Thank you so much for leaving a comment on Scarecrow's guest-post at Stealth Survival...your doing so has lead me to your blog and i am always on the look-out for blogs/websites, etc. that have something to teach me!

as for this current post - oh hmmm....have you ever encountered an ambidextrous autistic student??!?!?!? needless to say - i was a bit of trouble to my instructors during Canadian Forces Basic Training - but with the help of very skilled instructors - i was able to learn that i am a marksman (not sure if you use this term in the US?) with both eyes, from both sides...but it took a lot of learning on both my part, and the part of my instructors before any of us understood this!

keep your eye on students who do not aim well from either side, then do well from one side, then do well from the other side, then don't do well from either. you might be dealing with an autistic ambidextrous!

(p.s. - can't wait to go through your archives!)

Chief Instructor said...

I must say, that's a first for me - an autistic ambidextrous!

I'll keep an eye out. ;-)