Eye dominance when shooting

Shooting & Eyesight Guides

Eye dominance affects the accuracy and performance of 30% of shooters. This article will discuss eye dominance when shooting, how it may be affecting your performance and your options for overcoming this common condition.

1# What is eye dominance?

Eye dominance occurs when visual input from one eye is favoured over the other. This is a subconscious process which can greatly affect your accuracy and performance when clay and game shooting. 

For most people their dominant eye matches the shoulder they shoot from. In these cases, eye dominance is not an issue and shooting accuracy is not affected. 

But for around 30% of shooters, this is not the case. When your dominant eye does not match your shooting shoulder you are experiencing cross dominance.

2# How does cross dominance affect my shooting?

In order to shoot most accurately, you need to aim on target with the eye which is best positioned to view down the barrel of your firearm. When cross dominance occurs, you are primarily sighting on the target with the eye which does not look down the barrel. Refer to the image below.

When cross dominance goes unnoticed and your dominant eye does not match your shooting shoulder, your brain’s positional perception is dramatically affected. This results in a severe drop in accuracy and performance.

3# How to check which eye is dominant?

Contrary to popular belief eye dominance is not related to the eye with the best visual acuity, so knowing which of your eyes has a weaker prescription does not mean that will be your dominant eye. 

To determine your dominant eye, try one of these tests at home. If you are still uncertain, book into your local optician and request an eye dominance examination. 

Eye dominance: Test 1

Choose a ‘target’ several metres away from you, this could be an object such as a light switch or tree. 

Make a triangle out of your hands by placing the tips of your thumbs and index fingers together. See the image. 

With both eyes open lift your hands so that you are viewing your target centrally through the triangle, with arms extended. 

Shut each eye in turn and you are likely to find that the target is only centred when viewing through one eye, while through the other it appears shifted to the left or right.

Your dominant eye is the one through which you can see the target centrally. 

If the answer is unclear after this test, you could have central/middle vision. The second at-home test may help you to determine this.

Eye dominance: Test 2

Pick a ‘target’ at least several metres away, the further away the better.

Make a thumbs up sign with one hand and with both eyes open lift it so that your thumb is in line with the target.

Focus your vision on the target rather than your thumb and you should see two (somewhat blurry) thumbs! One of these is your thumb as seen by the right eye, the other as seen by the left eye.

Close each eye in turn (you should then see just one thumb). If your thumb obscures the target when one eye is closed, the eye that is open is your dominant eye. 

If target is located between your ‘two’ thumbs, you have central/middle vision.

Your dominant eye is the one through which you can see the target centrally.

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4# How do I overcome eye dominance / cross dominance?

Option 1: Close your dominant eye

Closing your dominant eye allows the correct eye to take over. Often when people first pick up a shotgun, they naturally close their non-aiming eye. Unfortunately, this technique does limit your accuracy.

Key Points

  • Many shooters, particularly beginners, already close their non-aiming eye when shooting.
  • A simple solution you can start using straight away.
  • With one eye closed your brain processes data more slowly – when shooting a moving target every millisecond counts!
  • Hand-eye coordination and balance are at their best with both eyes open, so not recommended for competitive shooters.
  • Keeping the eye closed can be tiring and can cause squinting

Option 2: Shoot from the other shoulder 

Switching the shoulder you shoot from to match your dominant eye can take a while to get used to, but if successful, it will maintain all the benefits of both-eyes-open shooting.

Key Points

  • No need for any accessories or adjustments.
  • Experience the full benefits of binocular vision
  • Many people don’t manage to make this change, or have to tolerate a frustrating period as they adjust.
  • Some shotguns are optimised for left/right handed shooting.

Option 3: Translucent clip-on blinders

The use of a translucent blinder over your dominant eye causes the correct eye to take over dominance. This allows you to continue shooting with both eyes open.

Key Points

  • Many shooters, particularly beginners, already close their non-aiming eye when shooting.
  • A simple solution you can start using straight away.
  • With one eye closed your brain processes data more slowly – when shooting a moving target every millisecond counts!
  • Hand-eye coordination and balance are at their best with both eyes open, so not recommended for competitive shooters.
  • Keeping the eye closed can be tiring and can cause squinting.

Translucent Clip-on Blinders 

Option 4: Translucent foils over the dominant eye

Translucent foils with varying levels of opacity can be stuck to the inside of the lens over the dominant eye. Like patches or blinders this will cause the other eye to ‘take over’ dominance. These are easy to apply and remove. 

Key Points

  • You can experiment with different levels of opacity to find the point at which your non-dominant eye takes over. This allows you to optimise the amount of light received by the eyes and to maximise the benefits of both-eyes-open shooting. This is a very effective solution for eye dominance.
  • Free from J H Steward (we offer a free kit of foils when you buy any ZS-Sport models)

Translucent Foil Sticker 

5# Overcoming Central / Middle Vision

Central/middle vision means that neither eye is dominant.

To remedy this, you need to make the eye you aim with dominant. Shooters with central vision should experiment with the solutions offered above as if they have cross dominance.

Other than changing the shoulder you shoot from, any of the solutions above could help you to correct central vision by encouraging one eye to ‘take over’ dominance.

Eye dominance can greatly affect your accuracy – regardless of your ability level, prescription or experience. This article gives an overview of eye dominance, how it may be affecting your shooting performance and your options for improving your performance. 

If you would like to learn more about overcoming eye dominance, visit our accessories page. Discover our range of updated ZS-Sport tints, specifically for clay and game shooting.

If you have found this information useful, or have any comments or questions, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch or drop us a message on Instagram or Facebook.

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Single-Vision lenses sharpen your focus whilst taking aim and shooting. Bifocal lenses sharpen your focus on both nearby and far away objects.

Benefits of Bifocal Lenses

Target shooting competitors benefit from a second lens on the non-shooting eye, allowing clear focus when adjusting sights and marking scores.

Clay & Game Shooters benefit from a small region at the bottom of the lens which allows clear focus when re-loading and marking scores.