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What the heck is eye dominance and why is it important when shooting?

I could give you a lengthy scientific dissertation but that would mean a lot of work for me and a very boring read for you. So, instead I ask you to perform this simple exercise that will demonstrate to you the importance of eye dominance.

Extend one of your arms straight out in front of you with your index finger pointed upward.

With both eyes open, align the tip of your index finger with a distant object.

Now close or cover one eye at a time while looking at your finger tip and the object.

As you can see when your dominant eye is open and your other eye is closed your finger tip remains aligned with the object. However, when your dominant eye is closed and your other eye is open the object shifts and is no longer aligned with your finger tip. This same shifting can happen when attempting to align your gun sights on a target.

After performing the above exercise you now know your dominant eye (it is the eye that was open when the object and your finger tip stayed aligned). Eye dominance is important to understand because this knowledge will assist you in selecting the right gun and properly aiming it, thus helping to improve your accuracy.

For long guns, like rifles and shotguns, your gun should match your eye dominance. If you are right eye dominate then select a right-handed gun and if left eye dominate then select a left-handed gun. This is desired because when you shoulder a long gun you want the gun’s sights aligned with your dominate eye so there is no site picture shifting as experienced in the previous exercise. Since handguns are not shoulder mounted, select the handgun that works best for you and your grip. A handgun can more easily be shifted from one side to the other for sight alignment unlike a long gun.

But what if I am right handed but left eye dominate (or vice versa)? Then it will be in your best interest to learn how to shoot long guns mounted on your left shoulder (or vice versa). This will take some getting use to but will be the correct choice in the long run. Especially since we all should be shooting with both eyes open for better peripheral sight and comfort. If you absolutely need to shoot a long gun mounted on your non-dominate eye shoulder then you will need to close or cover your dominate eye so that it does not interfere with correct sight alignment.

I hope you find this information useful and if you see someone struggling with accuracy check to see if they are shooting properly for their eye dominance.
 

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That's something to take note of, and you can see it sometimes when a newbie is holding the rifle up to his right shoulder and trying to sight using his left eye. It's awkward looking, they feel awkward and it can cause marksmanship problems. I'm left-eye dominant but have learned to shoot rifles right eyed. It just "feels normal" somehow. In competitions where I have to shoot weak (left) shoulder it feels strange and takes a little extra time to get the sight picture.

I have always shot hand guns left handed (because I'm left handed) and left-eyed. That feels normal to me.
 

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Keep in mind the military “used to” and may still today force recruits to shoot right handed whether they are right handed or right eyed. The military does not buy “left handed” firearms. But keep in mind the goal of firearms training for recruits is to get as many of them “qualified” (as in trained to the absolute minimum level of acceptable competence, or “Marksman”) in as short a time as possible, NOT to make them “Sharpshooter,” or “Expert.” That’s why those are rewarded as being “above average.” It IS possible to obtain a minimum level of competence if you shoot “Weak” handed or with your non-dominant eye, but to gain higher levels of shooting skill you will have to train harder, and/or buy specialized glasses with your “wrong” eye blacked out, etc. it IS possible to become an expert shot, but know that you ARE starting out with one strike against you that you have to overcome.

The good news if you have to shoot left handed easily, you do not necessarily have to buy custom left handed guns which are harder to find and usually much more expensive. Most single shot and double barrel led shotguns and rifles can be shot either way, and some guns like Ithaca pumps, eject downward rather than from the side into your face like most repeaters do if you shoot them “wrong handed.” And there are examples of radically “bent” stocks you can see in firearms displays where guys have modified their own.

Handguns are less of an issue except the controls, because you can “cant” them to shoot them left handed but use the right eye and vice versa fairly effectively.
 

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I'm a righty with left eye dominant but my right eye also has a focus issue so shooting long arms right handed means they have to have a scope mounted with the focus adjusted to my eye. On the plus side nobody else can shoot my scoped rifles!
At the trap range I've taught myself to shoot left handed but most rifles with open sights feel weird shooting lefty.
I shoot handguns right handed and just turn my head so I'm sighting with my left eye.
 

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I am left-handed. I had a hard time qualifying with the M1 Garand in Navy basic training in 1963. I was at Camp Pendleton in 1969 going through Marine Advanced Infantry Training. I was issued an early M-16 without a shell deflector. In full auto, I was getting a steady stream of shell casings to my forehead. I had my helmet pulled as low as possible and was not hitting the target. The Marine instructor checked me for eye dominance and I am very right-eye dominant. He had me switch to shooting right-handed and I qualified expert. I have shot and carried long guns and handguns right-handed ever since. I have both right-hand and left-hand holsters for my handguns. I can shoot a handgun with either hand and both eyes open. For longer distance target shooting with a handgun, I shoot right-handed and close my left eye.
 

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For longer distance target shooting with a handgun, I shoot right-handed and close my left eye.
For us "non standard" guys, we just have to find the system that works for us individually, and stick with that. Sometimes we can read what the experts say, try it out, but the objective is to get rounds downrange and hit what we're aiming at.
 

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My younger brother was left eye dominant and right handed, it was funny watching him shoot. Well actually he was near sighted in the right eye and had better vision in his left eye but he held his head weird so he could shoot righty and aim with his left eye. In the gun shop I work for, we specialise in antique and reproductions of antique firearms, we have several old rifles that have "cripple stocks" with exagerated cast off and a lower comb that are specific for shooting a right handed rifle or shotgun using the left eye.

As a side note, I am right eye dominate but have better vision in the left eye, I used to have 20/20 in both but I'm not so young as I used to be lol. But I can still shoot okay if I wear glasses.
 

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I'm left-eye dominant but have learned to shoot rifles right eyed. It just "feels normal" somehow. In competitions where I have to shoot weak (left) shoulder it feels strange and takes a little extra time to get the sight picture. I have always shot hand guns left handed (because I'm left handed) and left-eyed. That feels normal to me.
For us "non standard" guys, we just have to find the system that works for us individually, and stick with that. Sometimes we can read what the experts say, try it out, but the objective is to get rounds downrange and hit what we're aiming at.
+1 and +1. My ophthalmologist tells me I'm one of the 1% or so with no dominate eye, and am also somewhat ambidextrous. Have always done better with long guns lefthanded with my right eye closed. Same with handguns, with one eye (doesn't matter which one) closed. If I keep both eyes open, I see two sets of sights.

Edit: Can shoot righty (not as well) but must close an eye to avoid the dual sight picture.
 

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If you are ever in Wall, SD and stop in at Wall Drugs, make sure you walk around and look at all the personal firearms hanging on the walls, some classics. But a couple of rifles and shotguns have the “bent” or what was called “crippled” stocks by Griz, apparently the guy who started Wall Drug was “wrong eyed.” From the heads of game he also had on the wall it must’ve worked.

I guess that used to be done a lot, they’d soak the stock repeatedly and bend it a little bit more each time until it was bent enough to use the left eye.
 

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I was right eye dominant until some unknown to me wino/druggy street scum stabbed my right eye with a box knife because I wouldn’t give him a dollar, and that is when I had to learn how to shoot long guns left hand.

Actually after my assault along with self defense training, I got into the T/C Contender and Remington XP100 handguns because I was having a hard time trying to train myself to shoot long guns left hand. With the Contender and XP I was still able to hunt deer out 200-400 yards. After about five or six years I eventually wanted to shoot rifles again, so a good friend helped me to learn how to shoot rifles left hand. The rifle he lent me to train with was a Winchester Model 70 Feather Weight chambered in 300 H&H. That I believe was his way of getting back for how I helped train him to stop flinching after he had a Ruger Super Blackhawk blow up in his hand. I won’t go into full details about that, but my friend thought that I took on the persona of the Marquis De Sade. Some times you need to show no mercy when trying to help someone. Just to clarify that I am not recoil shy, but it was somewhat brutal at first trying to not flinch shooting that beast of a rifle. My main incentive was not to get scope eyed. The biggest learning curve was eye/hand coordination. With rifles, I shoot with triggers that release from 6-16 ounces for competition and hunting. Eventually my brain made the connections, and for over twenty five years now shooting long guns, left hand shooting feels natural. Odd thing is that when I pick up or hold a handgun, I still automatically hold it in my right hand, but that is more of product of egomaniac that with most pistols the controls are on the left side to be operated with the right hand thumb.

As a side note. I still shoot with both eyes open, but it is easy to ignore the blurred vision of my right eye.
 

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Maybe off topic, but, PRR, sorry to hear about your injury, but glad to hear that you have overcome it. (y) 😊
Thanks, but I’ve been over that for a long time now. The only real bother is the lack of depth perception, so when I have to climb down from any hight, I do so with very deliberate and slow movement. Haven’t fallen off a ladder yet. The only other problem is finding left hand rifles in what I want. I would really like one of the Ruger Precision Rifle in left hand, but they only make it in right hand, and the adjustment latch for the cheek rest catches hair from my beard which is rather disconcerting.

Edit. Silly me. I just watched a video on Ruger’s website about all the adjustments for the RPR and learned that the cheek rest and butt plate adjustment latches are reversible for right side to left side. Now if only they made the bolt and its handle ambidextrous, hens my own design of an ambidextrous bolt action rifle. Just need some serious development money to see it through fruition.
 
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