Previously, we covered how to tell if you are cross-eye dominant. Now let’s talk about how to shoot if you are.
There are a few strategies that you can adopt in order to combat it.
First is to learn to shoot with your weak-side hand. I’ve heard a few people say they had to either in the service or just because. Granted, that’s easier said than done! Not only do you have to go back to square one, you now have to find left-handed (common-ish with rifles, not with anything else) or ambidextrous firearms.
And what if you don’t really want to do that?
I delved into some forums across the interwebs, and some people’s experience has been that a red dot optic, on pistols or long guns makes shooting easier for shooters with cross-eye dominance. Granted, you can’t put one on every gun (more’s the pity) so that isn’t a perfect solution.
Another common trick is to just close your dominant eye.
Some folks might object at this point that you should only shoot with both eyes open. That’s a bit controversial; some believe you should never shoot with one eye closed, for some very good reasons, but it’s a well-known enough tactic that it bears mentioning.
Some people may have a problem with that, however. A certain portion of the population is not capable or has great difficulty with closing only one eye. The cause isn’t known; it has to do with the development of their facial muscles.
Not everyone develops the same neuromuscular connections as everyone else, including those for articulating the muscles of the face. Just as some people aren’t able to raise one eyebrow (can you smell what The Rock is cooking?) or curl their tongue like a taco, a portion of the human population doesn’t develop the ability to articulate their eyelids. Persons thusly afflicted cannot, therefore, throw a homely girl a wink in honor of HL Mencken or close one eye to shoot.
If you can’t wink, then you’ll need a different solution.
A related trick relies on the use of eye protection or having corrected vision. What you do is place a bit of tape on the lens of your eye pro or glasses that covers the dominant eye, blurring your dominant eye’s vision and forcing the non-dominant eye to pick up the slack.
Another solution many shotgunners have tried is a stock that’s either curved or bent with exaggerated cast off to align the barrel axis with your dominant eye.
To state the obvious, that’s great…on the trap field or at the range. But what are you supposed to do in a practical situation? What is the hunter or concealed carrier to do? Some folks don’t always wear eye pro (you should!) and not everyone wears glasses.
You’ll never guess what it is. I’m about to tell you, and you won’t believe how powerful this hack is.
You…and you won’t believe this…tilt your head.
Shocking, I know.
Bear in mind that it isn’t a perfect solution. You need enough eye relief (the distance between the rear lens of your optic, rear sight or receiver and your eye) to allow the head to tilt into position with a long gun. It also isn’t going to feel pleasant, especially during extended shooting sessions.
However, some folks find that with a bit of adjusting their posture, it isn’t unbearable. Your mileage, as always, may vary; if this doesn’t work for you, then you need to pick a different method.
I don’t know that this would work with a bullpup or SBR given (again) the shorter eye relief. Sorry to say I don’t have a FAMAS lying around to confirm or disconfirm my theory, but after looking at some forums it seems like that definitely is a thing.
However, it will work with most rifles, shotguns, and can easily be done with handguns.
The classic shooting stance is to have your weak side foot about 45 degrees from your strong side foot, with the stock of the rifle or shotgun welded to the strong side shoulder and the forend supported by the weak side hand.
All you do is exaggerate the cheek weld; move your head about an inch further downward and you should get a sight picture with the cross-dominant eye.
But what about the modern tactical stance, where the shoulders are closer to square with the target?
You just do the same thing. Look, this isn’t rocket surgery; we’re talking about moving your melon an extra 1.5 inches.
As to handgun shooting, shooters who utilize the Isosceles or Modern Isosceles shooting stance won’t have much trouble doing likewise.
As you present the pistol toward the target, you simply tilt your head to the strong side to get your dominant eye into position or move the gun so that it’s more visible with the dominant eye.
If you have cross-eye dominance, the Modern Isosceles, Combat Isosceles, whatever you want to call it, is going to be your best bet for handgunnery. That’s why so many instructors teach it!
However, shooters that employ the Weaver stance, as taught by Gunsite and many other instruction bodies, will find this problematic.
The Weaver stance is more or less only possible to use if you have normal ocular dominance, as the shooting hand is almost straight out from the body, which is bladed toward the target.
Some folks might have guessed where this is going next: the Chapman stance.
Devised and popularized by Ray Chapman, it’s a modified Weaver stance, though it also isn’t perfect.
The Chapman stance uses the same push-pull dynamic as the Weaver, but instead of bending the strong side arm, it’s thrust straight out. The body is still bladed toward the target, and both arms are tucked into the body for the utmost of support. However, the strong arm being straightened requires the head to tilt toward it. For cross-eye dominant shooters, you have to rest your chin on your bicep, basically like a cheek weld with a rifle.
The Chapman stance is easier for beginners to learn, and more ergonomic than the Weaver for cross-eye dominant shooters. However, it narrows the field of view since your head naturally must tilt toward the shooting hand arm, lessening the total field of vision which some feel is disadvantageous in a self-defense and/or combat scenario.
I leave that to the comments section to debate. Speaking of which, what did YOU do to deal with cross-eye dominance if you have it? Anything like the above? Are you ready for some football? Sound off!