Eye Dominance and Shooting

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Duration: 2:39

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Recently PDN has been receiving questions and comments about eye dominance as it relates to shooting a handgun and a long gun. Let’s clear up some misconceptions.


Deryck Poole, a PDN contributor and co-host of PDN Training Talk, says it does not matter which eye is dominant or if you have cross-eye dominance (the dominant hand and dominant eye are on opposite sides, e.g. a right-handed person with a dominant left eye) because the handgun is in space in front of you when you extend the gun to fire it.

When you extend the gun out, you are using the gun’s sights because the shot requires a higher degree of precision, therefore you close one eye. Deryck demonstrates by pointing a (clear) gun at the camera. As he extends the gun, he closes one eye and the gun ends up in front of his dominant eye.

He did not make any extra motions to cause this. He did not bring the gun up under the dominant eye. He just extended the gun out onto the target, closed the non-dominant eye, and the gun was where it needed to be. Try this at your next handgun training or practice session and you’ll see that the gun will be in front of your dominant eye.


What happens when aiming a long gun? In this case, Deryck has a rifle. It’s different from a handgun because now you are attaching the gun to your face, specifically your cheek, and you have to look down the barrel. If you have a cross-eye dominance issue, this is where you will see a problem.

Deryck’s rifle is equipped with a red dot optic that is set up so he can shoot with both eyes open, meaning eye dominance is not an issue. When will it be an issue? If your optic goes down, or you don’t have one, you need to use the back-up iron sights. Now when you bring the rifle up, you need to close an eye. If you are cross-eye dominant, the eye that is not down the barrel of the gun cannot pick up the sights. You cannot get sight alignment sight picture to get the shot you need to make because of the cross-eye dominance.


Some people say the solution is that in rifle training sessions, you need to learn to shoot with your opposite hand. Deryck does not agree and believes you should instead train yourself to close the opposite eye so that when you bring the rifle up to your face to get a solid cheek weld, you actually are closing the proper eye. This is a much more efficient way than training to shoot with the weak hand.

If you have any more questions on eye dominance, drop them here in the comments (premium members only).