Often, we start out in this sport by shooting the way we see the most popular shooters doing it, or by following how we’re shown in a permit certification and safety course. Most of the time, the ways we learn only focus on shooting with a right-handed firearm.
Since most modern AR-15 rifles are only available in right hand, we figure that we’re supposed to be shooting that way. But what if you’re not right eye dominant?
While right-handed people are likely to be right eye dominant, that is not always the case and it is impossible to predict eye dominance based off hand dominance alone. Opposite eye dominance happens in 1/3 of the population, and trying to shoot a right-handed rifle while being left eye dominant can create many issues. The shooter has to worry about focusing on controls that are designed for the opposite hand, gas blowback from the ejection port, and lastly, cartridges ejecting from the rifle that could hit or burn the shooter.
Here are a few easy tests that you can do to uncover which of your eyes is your dominant, followed by what you can do to become a better shooter.
- Put your hands together out in front of you and create a small triangle between your index fingers and thumbs.
- Keeping both eyes open, find an object in the room and center it within the triangle you have created.
- Close your left eye.
- If the object that you centered stays within the triangle, you are right eye dominant. If the object has moved out of frame, you are left eye dominant.
- With both eyes open, find an object in the room to focus on.
- Point to it with your index finger and maintain focus on the object.
- With your free hand, cover your left eye. Next, cover your right eye.
- The eye, that keeps your finger pointed to the object you are focusing on, is your dominant eye.
Both of these tests are called “sighting” tests. You are aligning a visual target with a makeshift device. These tests mimic what looking down the barrel would be like. Imagine trying to look down the barrel with your eye that doesn’t keep the object centered and in focus, then trying to hit your mark. You can see where this would be problem.
These tests could bring up a few additional questions…
What if neither of these tests worked? Well, for the smaller portion of you (1%) that are neither right or left eye dominant, you would need to take a few extra steps. Go to a range and actually try shooting both left or right-handed, whichever is most comfortable for you and allows you to perform to your maximum potential is the right way for you.
What if you’re right-handed but left eye dominant? This is referred to as Cross Dominance. In most cases, it would be beneficial to start with a rifle that is optimized for your eye dominance. Shooting is about accuracy. Good accuracy starts with your sight picture. Hand controls can easily be trained, but when your target is obscured, blurred or not even in the picture, you will not make accurate shots.
“With new shooters, I strongly believe you should test them for eye dominance and have them shoot from their dominant eye side. Even if someone has been shooting for a few years on the “wrong” side, I think switching is a good idea. Otherwise they will have to shoot with one eye closed.” – Phil Bourjaily (Field & Stream)
Knowing which is your dominant eye will help you perform better in a variety of ways. You will know right away how to obtain your most optimal sight picture, allowing you the highest degree of accuracy. Stag Arms Left-Handed AR-15 Rifles help left eye dominant shooters have a more natural feel to the rifle and minimize risks that could cause the shooter to lose focus or comfort.
Photo Credit: @znniickk
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