Cross eye dominant pistol shooting?


October 17, 2004, 12:43 PM
I've recently discovered that I'm cross-eye dominant, and solved the mystery as to why I've never been a very good shot with open sights.

I'm an absolute neophyte to pistol shooting, and am wondering if eye dominance is even an issue. I just purchased some VQ Volthane grips for my Ruger Mark II, and I'm a little worried that I might not be able to use them. :confused:

Will my accuracy suffer from using a right-handed pistol, or will it only be annoying because of the controls (mag release, etc.)?

Do I have to purchase left-handed pistols from now on?

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October 17, 2004, 01:08 PM
You have the chance to learn right the first time, something a lot of people don't take advantage of. Put that gun in your left hand and keep it under your left eye until you get proficient, THEN learn to shoot with your right hand. Eye dominance is much more important than strong side/weak side, keep that gun in your left hand.

Running a right handed gun in your left hand a lot of times is easier, especially if your hands are a little on the small side. Just work with it a little and dropping the mag/slide will be very easy. Most guns can be fitted with a left handed or ambi safety and they make life a lot easier for left handed shooters. I've seen some left handers make a revolver sing pretty darn well too, even the reloads.

October 17, 2004, 01:12 PM
I'm left eye dominant. Consequently I've trained myself to operate all my handguns as a leftie. Which wasn't easy because I'm right handed. The only thing I've done to my guns is have the magazine release button on my Sigs switched over to the right hand side. I did this because I'm a cop and I discovered that sometimes the mag release would be hit when I brushed up against things. Hey it happens when you work a twelve hour shift. I remember one time on night shift discovering that my magazine was loose. I had no idea how long it had been in that condition. If I had found myself in a SHTF situation I would have gotten one shot off and my mag would have dropped to the ground. Yikes. After that night I had our armorer switch my buttons. A couple of my fellow left handed officers (strangely enough they carry Sigs as well) pointed out that its easier to operate the mag release with the forefigner then the thumb. I agree with them, but when I told them about my little inccident they had their buttons switched as well. Other then that I've adapted. It can be a pain getting left handed holsters. I've had to have a couple made for me. Good luck.

October 17, 2004, 01:24 PM
My brother is right handed and left eyed. He shoots rightie and just cants the gun a little. No major difference in his shooting. He shoots rifles lefty though.

October 17, 2004, 01:53 PM
Is this for target shooting only, or do carry for self defense in the future?

If you carry for defense you must deal with it. However, I'm left eye dominant, but usually shoot right handed, and it's easily dealt with. You just use your left eye to look down the sights just like the right eye dominant people do! That simple, most people want to make this complicated. I used to worry about it too and then I got some great instruction that included that simple advice and things were much better. The sights are a couple feet in front of your face, and it doesn't matter which hand you're holding the gun.

This is slightly easier to do using the isoceles, or interview stance (half way between Weaver and Isoceles), vs. Weaver, but the truth is stance won't matter one bit if the SHTF. Your adrenaline will be pumping, both eyes will be locked open, because your brain makes it happen involuntarily as part of your flight or fight response, so you might as well train to shoot that way. It will be natural for you to want to use the left eye so don't fight it, because under stress you won't be able to fight what your body wants to do naturally. Just train to deal with it.

Just my 2 cents. YMMV.

October 17, 2004, 03:28 PM
I'm also right handed and left eye dominant, and I've never found it to be a problem. I shift my hands slightly to the left and cant my head a little, but that's just how I learned to shoot and it isn't really a big deal. For what it's worth, you can through practice train yourself to use your right eye, I just never thought it was worth the trouble.\


October 18, 2004, 01:58 PM
I'm cross-dominant, but it didn't take me long to train myself to aim a handgun with my right eye instinctively.

October 18, 2004, 02:03 PM
one question.

have you ever tried shooting with
both eyes open?

works for me;)


October 18, 2004, 04:38 PM
I am left eye dominant and shoot with both eyes open. I can also shoot with either eye strong or weak hand. It just takes alot of time and trigger discipline.

When shooting, I just turn my head a little so that the sights line up with my left eye while keeping my right eye open. I shoot fine. See what works for you.

October 18, 2004, 07:58 PM
I have the same problem. Since I have always been told that you are supposed to shoot with both eyes open ( because this is how you should shoot in a defensive situation) I have not found it to be a problem.

October 19, 2004, 12:11 AM
If you are left eye dominant and want to keep shooting right handed (although from all the instructors I've had they say just learn to shoot left handed) then learn to shoot with both eyes open ... just aim at the pair of sights on the right.

However I almost guarantee you that if you take some sort of pistol class (like for CCW) the instructors will probably try to force you to shoot left handed ... so learn how to fake the "dominant eye test" if you still want to shoot right handed (just don't expect to shoot as well)

October 19, 2004, 01:35 AM
However I almost guarantee you that if you take some sort of pistol class (like for CCW) the instructors will probably try to force you to shoot left handed ... so learn how to fake the "dominant eye test" if you still want to shoot right handed (just don't expect to shoot as well) Well the FIs at FLETC teach several thousand people each year, and they teach it the way I described it. How do I know? They taught me. The year I went through training there were over 25,000 people they taught survival shooting. The issue of eye dominance was the one of the first things they talked about after the safety lectures, and none of the instructors we had ever suggested switching shooting hands for those of us that were cross dominant. Could there be some there that do? Maybe but I doubt it.

October 19, 2004, 08:58 AM
here's a question for you guy's. im right handed and right eye'd but i can hit things left handed that i could never hit with my right. im wondering if it is because my left hand hasn't picked up the bad habits that my right has.

john l
October 19, 2004, 11:33 AM
Interesting responses.
Hmmm. I am left eye dom. and right hand dom. I write with my left hand.

I shoot pistols with right hand and move the GUN, not my head, over to my left eye. we are talking about moving the pistol over an inch with arms out. Not difficult at all. Geez, some have such overcomplicated answers.
I have a master rank with IDPA ssp and exp. rank with cdp. Seems like I do ok. I shoot rifle and shotgun left handed. So I'm more well rounded. Taught myself to shoot right eyed, also. Works well in a strict tactical sense when you are shooting around a right side barricade. You expose a LOT less of yourself.
Train to do both and be a well rounded shooter. Look how many right handed people couldn't wipe their butt if they had to left handed.

Why drives me absolute bonkers is people at the range with tape over their dominant eye shooting glasses lens. (to force them to look thru their non dom. eye) Or they got tape on their kid's lens. Like that's what you would do walking down the street. And like being a left eye dom. person is such a horrific handicap.

The statement that "instructors said so" means absolutely nothing to me. Most instructors don't shoot as well as a lot of us, so who cares what they say?
john l

October 19, 2004, 12:39 PM
I found out after I had been shooting for a while that I am left eye dominant and right handed. I also started wearing glasses about a year and a half ago, although I’ve needed them for several years. I’ve always shot right handed and until recently I used my right eye with my left closed. Same for both pistols and rifles.

I’m no champion marksman, but I shoot as well as anyone I know. Even when I didn’t have glasses I could shoot a rifle with open sights pretty well despite nothing being in focus and seeing both the sight and target in double-vision. After hearing all the hoopla about eye dominance I started using my left eye with both eyes open. It didn’t make a big difference over the about 600 rounds I shot that way, but I switched back to my right eye for about 40 rounds and got the best groups of the day.

For everything I’ve read about eye dominance I don’t really understand why I would shoot left handed. I am very much more coordinated with my right and I think it would take a very long time to catch up with my left.


October 21, 2004, 09:47 AM
Personally, I think you should shoot with your dominant eye, and dominant hand. That's what you are probably going to do under stress anyway. How you get there from here is a matter of practice. Speaking of practice, you should practice the other combinations as well, as you never know what eyes/hands you are going to have available.

The problem doesn't change.

Sight alignment
Sight picture
Trigger control

Master these, and you'll be on target. Everything else is insurance. When it comes to hitting what you are aiming at, slow really is fast. If you forget the basics and hurry the shot, you won't hit, and it's just wasted ammo.

October 21, 2004, 11:18 AM
I agree with John l. I also shoot competitive pistol (USPSA B class). My pistol naturally comes up on the draw to center on my left eye. For 99% of the shots I just find the front sight and squeeze. For exceptionally long, tight shots I still close my right eye for a clearer picture. I wish my left were a little more dominant than it is.

Bwana John
October 21, 2004, 11:38 AM
Right handed, left eye dominate, never been a problem with a pistol for me, and I have found it to be a advantage with a rifle. I do have problem with a shotgun, I learned to squint the left eye when shoting scatterguns.

October 21, 2004, 12:35 PM
I am a Corrections Officer and cross dominant. My Instructor insisted I use my dominant hand and eye because under stress that is what your body will want to do. It is really not a problem.

October 21, 2004, 07:38 PM
Cross dominance is no actual problem. A right hand/right eye shooter "switches" when he shoots left handed. Just turn your head very slightly and align which ever eye works best for you.

October 21, 2004, 10:29 PM
When I taught my wife to shoot, something about her stance was odd. It took me forever to figure out what it was. She was shooting right handed, and aiming with the left eye which put her at a strange angle. I first thought about trying to get her to change, but figured if she was able to stay on target, what the heck.
When we took our CCW test, she outshot most of the men in the class that day with only one flyer which was the very first shot. She was just nervous having to shoot in front of a stranger.
One of the first things said to me by one of our classmates was," Man you better toe the line or you're gonna be in trouble." lol

November 16, 2008, 03:26 AM
I am not a pro shooter. Just started and eye dominance was the first thing that drew my attention because I used to shoot only AKs and never held a handgun or shotgun before. First time I opened 2 eyes while shooting was total surprise and confusion. Then I learned that I am cross eyed. I read some articles and stumbled upon the idea that if the non dominant eye is almost as good as the master one then it's just a matter of your brain that translates 2 flat images into 3D. Therefore cross eye dominance can be broken.

I did not find any instructions on how to do it and tried on my own. First I identified the cases when the dominance constitutes itself. For me it was inability to lock on front sight with right eye after I draw the gun into firing position. Another issue was the double vision of the target after I finally managed to focus on the front sights. First day was total confusion and disappointment. I was thinking about changing the hands. I have no problems with handgun because I have just started. This seamed to be easier option but it involved changing the gun which I so fond of. The other issue still remained. I have been shooting shotgun and rifles for quite a while and there is no way for me to change the hand with them. I tried to shoot handgun with right hand and left eye. It's a very good idea in terms of speed of acquiring lock and avoiding confusion in stress situation (I am not a law enforcement officer but have a pretty good idea what stress can do with your brain). But the position with the left eye lock is quite unnatural for me. It puts some tension into different parts of my body and I can not get into relaxed state when I can concentrate on targeting and trigger pull.

So I went on with breaking eye dominance just out of curiosity to check if it is possible. As a matter of fact it is not that difficult. In a week or so I made tremendous progress. Few exercises like drawing the gun, pointing small objects with right finger and checking precision by closing left eye, tracking the sights while turning around or simply walking targeting different objects, looking in the dark through night sights and trying to ignore secondary image from the dominant eye - all of these made huge difference. Squinting your dominant eye also helps but I would not rely upon it. You need both eyes wide opened to get all the benefit of binocular vision. But one can use as first step to avoid visual confusion and learn to trust the 'secondary' image which in this case is the TRUE one. The other will eventually fade and go away. When the concept accepted by your brain the rest becomes just a matter of practice and concentration. Another exercise to reduce visual confusion is to switch hands and eyes while targeting. I would recommend it after you learn to distinguish the inputs from different eyes and train you brain to pick the image which is TRUE in a given situation (pointing/firing with left or right hand).

Now the most of visual confusion is gone. I still have few problems when my eyes are tired from computer (this is quite disturbing if you think about stress) but improvement is so obvious. I believe that I can make my right eye as good as left one and targeting with right eye will someday become my second nature. Somebody mentioned firing from right barricade or having an option of two eyes and hands which can be interchanged depending on situation. I find this idea very appealing and braking eye dominance can become very handy.

Note, that everything in this message is just a result of my own research and practice. It has no relation to actual shooting quality. I was only concentrating on binocular vision and quality and precision of the targeting picture with relation to the objects on different distances. I would strongly recommend to talk to professionals and have your eyes checked for cross dominance and other possible issues before any attempt in doing something similar.

I am not still sure if I am doing the right thing but I took this path to improve my shotgun shooting as well. Bottom line of the story - cross eye dominance can be broken. It is our brain, not the eyes who tell us were we are pointing or targeting. I would not suggest it for people with extreme cases of cross eye dominance. Another thing I learned is that there are many degrees of cross eye dominance and many people falsely believe that they have a bad case. In many cases they just have slight dominant eye which fights for control with another. I suspect this is my case. The question is still opened. Should it be broken? Are there any side effects associated with it?

P.S. Would you mess with your own brain?

November 16, 2008, 10:11 AM
DEPENDING ON IF THE FIREARM IS STILL RELIABLE WHEN FIRED THIS WAY (USP45, Glock 17L, and every revolver I've ever handled aren't affected adversely. Some firearms may jam, so make sure yours isn't one of them first).

It's a valid technique to tilt the gun to the side in your hand until the sights are lined up with the other eye. It shouldn't take any more than a 45 degree tilt.

I know it's reminiscent of 'gangsta shooting', but it WILL get your sights in front of your dominant eye, while keeping your dominant arm in a natural shooting position (IE, not crossing it over your body awkwardly).

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