What Is Eye Dominance and How Do You Determine Yours?

Just as most people have a dominant hand, they also have a dominant eye. This is the eye that sends more accurate signals to your brain, allowing you to locate an object accurately. In most cases, people never realize that one of their eyes is dominant unless it becomes a problem. However, determining your dominant eye is crucial to your shooting accuracy if you love and own firearms. This article reviews the meaning and importance of eye dominance and tells you why you should care.

What is a Dominant Eye?

A dominant eye is the one your brain gives more preference to because it sends more accurate information to your brain’s visual center about an object’s location. There are three main types of eye dominance:

  • Motor dominance – This is when one eye is preferred since it is less likely to lose fixation when closer to the convergence point.
  • Sighting dominance – This is when one eye is preferred for focusing on a target.
  • Sensory dominance – This is when one eye is preferred due to its strong visual ability.

For most people, having a dominant eye is a normal visual condition because both eyes maintain almost equal visual acuity, although one eye is preferred over the other.

Dominant Eye in Shooting

Eye dominance is an important consideration for shooters since it determines the accuracy of your shots. If your dominant eye is not on the same side as your dominant hand – a condition called cross dominance – you may have difficulty hitting targets.

For example, if you are a left-handed (i.e., left-shouldered) shooter but your right eye is the dominant one, you may find yourself shooting in front of a left-to-right moving target and behind a right-to-left moving target. Understanding your eye dominance can, therefore, help improve your shooting accuracy. This will, in turn, improve your chances of wilderness survival.

Importance of Eye Dominance

You may be wondering why eye dominance is so important in shooting and we have the answer. Because your dominant eye is the one that sends the most accurate information to your brain, it is usually the one you must place over the bore of your firearm when aiming. This alignment will ensure you see the target as it is and that your brain is not misinterpreting the information. Conversely, the opposite alignment (non-dominant eye over the bore) will likely end in a miss.

Determining Your Dominant Eye

It should now be clear to you how vital your dominant eye is when it comes to shooting on target. But how exactly do you determine eye dominance? The following two simple tests should help you:

Method 1

  • Step 1: Make a small triangle window of about 2 to 3 inches across between your thumbs and fingers with your palms facing out. Hold your arms straight in front of you.
  • Step 2: Through the window in your hands, focus on a specific spot a short distance away from you. Keep both of your eyes open.
  • Step 3: As you maintain eye contact with the spot through your window, slowly bring your hands closer to your face.
  • Step 4: Once your hands are nearer to your face, you should take note of the eye you brought your hands towards. Your brain will naturally guide your hands to your dominant eye.

Note: Carefully follow the steps described in this method to avoid blocking the target with your hands and bringing your hand towards your non-dominant eye.

Method 2

  • Step 1: With both of your palms facing out, make a small triangle window (about 2-3 inches across) between your thumbs and forefingers as you hold your arms straight in front of you.
  • Step 2: Through the window in your hands, focus on a spot a short distance away from you, like a light switch or doorknob. Keep both of your eyes open.
  • Step 3: Close your right eye. If your target moves out of view, your left eye is dominant. If it stays in focus, your right eye is dominant.

Cross Dominance

Cross dominance refers to when the dominant hand and eye are on opposite sides of the body. This can become an issue when working with firearms because it means you can either spot the target accurately or shoot with your dominant hand, not both. However, there is some good news if you find yourself having cross dominance. With the proper adjustments in shooting techniques, a cross-dominant shooter can learn to shoot more accurately.

Dealing with Cross Dominance

There are some effective methods of dealing with your cross dominance shooting problem, but the approach you choose will depend on the type of firearm you are using.

1. Long Guns

When shooting shotguns or rifles, there is not much you can do about changing your dominant eye. You must choose between using your dominant eye or your dominant hand. Your options are:

  • Use Your Dominant Hand: If you stick with your dominant hand, you will need to obstruct the vision of your dominant eye by placing a small piece of tape over the lens on that side of your safety glasses. This will signal your brain to rely on your non-dominant eye for vision.
  • Use Your Dominant Eye: With this approach, you must shoulder your firearm on the same side as your dominant eye and use your non-dominant hand to take the shot.

2. Handgun

Cross dominance is much easier to deal with when using a handgun because you are not limited to using one hand. You can decide to:

  • Move Your Head: Start with the handgun in your dominant hand and in a shooting position. Then, shift your head, so your dominant eye aligns with the gun.
  • Move Your Hand: Start with the handgun in your dominant hand and in a shooting position. With your head still, move your hand, so it travels to your dominant eye across your midline.

Tip: There is no single correct answer to dealing with cross dominance. However, with adequate time and effort in training, you will eventually find a method that works best for you.

Using firearms requires an extremely high level of accuracy, especially when your shooting skills are crucial to wilderness survival. Determining your eye dominance will help you avoid mistakes such as missing a target due to inaccurate visual signals sent to your brain. However, the buck does not stop with finding out which of your eyes is dominant. If you are cross dominant, you must practice your technique until your target accuracy is spot on.

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