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Cross-Eye Dominance: What Every Rifleman Should Know

Most parts of the body come in two. It’s rare for both parts to perform or carry out tasks at the same level. There’s always a chance that one of them is the dominant and the other is the subordinate.

If you’re lucky, either side won’t matter when you’re shooting a rifle, especially if you’re using an AR-15. With its modular construction, you can attach any accessories on your AR-15 handguard and upgrade parts that you may need to as you hone your shooting skills.

But not everyone is as lucky. If you are part of the limited-vision group, then you need to address the eyeball situation immediately. When you’re handling a long firearm, your arms, legs, hands, eyes, ears, shoulders, and chest all work together to shoot a target. It gets even more complicated when these parts crisscross.

Some are left-handed, but their dominant eye is right, which means that the right eye takes over. This cross-eye dominance is more common than you think. You have to know which side you’re partial to and see where you need to compensate.

How Do You Know You Are Cross-Eye Dominant?

A lot of shooters who have been struggling with developing their skills find out too late that they’re cross-eye dominant. Perception is everything when you’re shooting. Though individual parts are designed symmetrically, it’s the unbalanced motor capacities between two identical pieces that can cause a disruption. That’s when things get jumbled, and the twin parts can’t carry out bilateral assignments equally.

There are two simple steps you can do to check which eye you most likely lean toward.

Circle Test

In a well-lighted room, pick a colorful object, one that deeply contrasts from the rest of the items in the room. It can be a vase or a picture frame. Place it at a reasonable distance, and use the object for aiming.

Using your thumb and index finger, make a circle, and hold it out a few inches away from your face. Position your circled fingers at your aiming object. Make sure the object is at the center of the circle, as though you were framing it with your circled fingers. Take turns in closing each eye.

Observe which eye keeps the object within the circle. That will be your dominant eye.

Triangular Test

If the circle test doesn’t work for you, you can go with the triangular test. Hold out your arms out front, extend them as far as you can, and create a triangle shape with both your thumbs and forefingers. You can use the same object you’ve chosen earlier for aiming.

Take turns in closing one eye and the other. If the object appears out of the triangle when you close your right eye, then you’ll know for sure that you are a right-eye dominant. Whatever moves outside the circle or the triangle while you’re closing a particular eye, then you know that the closed eye is your dominant one.

What Are Your Options?

After confirming which eye your dominant one is, you can then proceed to set the proper sights for your rifle. In most cases, having a dominant eye is not that big of a deal. It all depends on whether or not it has a bearing on your shooting.

Some who have confirmed cross-eye-dominance condition can still shoot accurately without having to make lots of adjustments on their rifles. This means that their dominant eye is stronger but not too far off from the subordinate eye.

But if you notice your dominant eye is taking over too much, for severe cases, you need to align your scopes and built-in sights properly. As far as shooting goes, you can train on your dominant-eye side. Meaning, if your right eye is dominant, you can teach your right arm and hand to shoot. The same applies to left-handed shooters.

This is why it’s so important to know your dominant side, so you can implement corrective measures at the onset. If you’re using a handgun, then you won’t have to worry about the adjustment. But for long firearms, you will have to choose which side you’ll be shooting from and whether or not it’s aligned with your dominant eye.

Close Your Weaker Eye

But some shooters can barely do anything with their subordinate arm and are heavily reliant on their dominant arm. If that’s the case, then you will have to make a compensation on your weaker eye.

Other than shooting adjustments, you can assign which eye you’d like to be the dominant one through training. Training the eye involves obstructing your sharp eye’s ability to see the target clearly. With this method, you’re forcing your weaker eye to take over.

When you go out on the field to practice shooting, first decide which arm you’ll be shooting with. If you choose your dominant arm, say, your right, then you have to weaken your left eye by placing masking tape on the lens while you’re shooting.

Make sure the taped barrier interferes with your direct line of sight, just enough without completely covering the entire scope. Wearing a patch for an extended period tends to be more effective. Also, keep both eyes open while you’re shooting. Most people can do a couple of rounds for an hour or two with this tape method.

After a series of training, your eyes will noticeably switch dominance. For other shooters, however, it takes longer. Even if you train your eyes, you may still need your stronger eye for more extended targets. It will take some time, but keep at it for as long as you can until you start to see improvements.

The Longer, the Better

From a sighting standpoint, rifles are much easier to handle compared to handguns. What most experts agree on is that, when you’re a right-handed rifleman, it’s better to lean and aim at your right eye.

But training the eye doesn’t always work for everyone. The dominant eye may naturally revert to its previous dominant status when you remove the patch or any other obstruction you’ve chosen for training.

Shooting with your weaker hand to align with your dominant eye is a huge adjustment. You’ll have to take into account all aspects of rifle usage. It’s not just shooting offhand; there’s the slinging, aiming, reloading, and carrying a rifle with your subordinate arm.

But this doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to reach optimum shooting level. You just need to practice with the alternative arm for as long as possible until it feels like it’s your second nature to do so.

Other Reminders

You can upgrade your gear to make up for the weaker side. As a cross-eye-dominant shooter, you need to look for ambidextrous firearm gear. Luckily, there are more options for gun owners these days.

You need to test everything before you buy anything. See which gear works for you best. Oftentimes, with mechanical parts, they may not work as well as you thought they would. Make sure you cast a wide net for gear.

Also, you can never go wrong with an open mind. Don’t forget that you can always return the gear to the store if it doesn’t do anything for you. If all else fails, then accept that you will have to shoot with your cross-eye dominance.

You’ll need to train regularly. You’ll be amazed how quickly the body and the mind respond with enough time and repetition. The longer you keep at it, the more you’ll improve.