Ready to shoot faster and more accurately?
We’ll take a look at eye dominance, sight picture, & trigger pull to finish off shooting fundamentals.
Eyes can be dominant, just as with hands and legs, and an important part of shooting accurately is knowing which eye is dominant.
The vast majority of people have dominant eyes that match their dominant hands, but a few (myself included) are cross-dominant.
Here is one easy test to see which of your eyes is dominant:
Not down for our sweet video right now?
It will be easier for beginners to start by closing one eye and using their dominant eye.
However, as you progress, you will likely find yourself shooting better with both eyes open. It will take a while to train your brain, but you’ll see benefits such as increased depth perception and orientation.
Your eye dominance can often dictate which stance you like better.
For me, since I’m left-eye dominant and right-hand dominant, I prefer the Modified Weaver/Chapman stance since it puts my left eye more behind the sights.
Still with me?
Aim a gun: Just point and shoot, right?
In the grand scheme of things, yes, that’s pretty much it. But proper sight picture is one of those fundamental things that make the difference between a shooter and someone that just plays with guns.
The sight picture is everything you see with your sights and your target.
There are several different types of sights, but most firearms will have a notch or circular rear sight with a post or bead as the front sight. Also very common is the three-dot sight.
All of them, no matter what their setup, work on the same principle. The front sight can be many things but usually is more contrasting than the rear sight to draw in the eyes.
What’s the Over/Under?
You’ll then want to make sure you have proper sight alignment.
This will vary on your sights but mostly will require you to line up your sights. Where you’ll be hitting also depends on personal preference or, more likely…how your gun is set up from the factory.
Some people like the first one, which is called the “6 o’clock hold,” where you line up the bottom of the target with the top of the front sight so you can hit the middle of the target.
The most traditional and called “point of aim, point of impact,” where you line up the top of the front sight with where you want to hit.
Where to Focus
The final question is where to focus with your eyes.
There are three choices—the rear sight, the front sight, or the target.
The correct plane to focus on is the front sight since the bullet will go where the front sight is pointing.
Every expert in the world will tell you that you will get the best results by keeping the front sight in focus while pulling the trigger, as it will really help you to keep the gun steady.
Brownells Daily Defense goes over focusing and sight picture in the video below.
This is the main reason why a lot of front sights are distinctly colored. When you’re correctly focusing on the front sight, the rear sight and target will appear blurry.
The best flow is to first focus on the target and loosely line up the dots onto it. At this point, change your focus to that front sight and line it up with the rear sights as well as the blurred-out target.
As you slowly squeeze the trigger, focus on keeping that front sight as stationary as humanly possible. With that front sight in focus and stationary, your shots will improve greatly.
There are also electronic sights that allow for both eyes to be open and focus only on one object. Here is an example of a typical “red dot” sight.
Want even more red dot action? Check out some of our favorite Red Dot Sights.
Determining eye dominance is the first step in shooting more accurately. Paired with a good sight picture and you’re sure to be nailing those targets in no time!
Want a drill that will help with sight alignment (and diagnosing whether your sighting is the issue)? Check out the Brownells Daily Defense videos below.
Looking for more shooting tips? Try out our How to Shoot Handgun More Accurately guide.
28 Leave a Reply
I am of course a beginner. Just submitted my application for a pistol permit yesterday. A dear friend of mine sent me the link to this site. I find it very interesting and very helpful! I am doing the hand and eye dominance test. I can close my right eye and I go off my target. But, I can't close my left eye and keep my right eye open! But being I go off target looking through my left eye, I assume my right eye is dominant??? I am right handed as well. In shooting, can I shoot with both eyes open? If I need to look at the target with my dominant eye, how does one do this if they can't close the non dominant eye while the dominant one stays open? Hope I'm not confusing.
Consider eye protection which is tinted in the non-dominant eye (e.g., "Edge Khor" among other brands has swappable lenses) and clear in the dominant eye.
Do you have normal stereopsis (AKA 'binocular vision')? If you have normal (or reasonably normal) stereopsis (as in no adverse impairments with it) you can skip the dominate eye thing and go straight to both eyes open and learn to do it that way which is basically called target focus shooting.
This place will not let me post links, but there are some youtube videos and many references to 'target focus shooting' found via a search.
I'm just over the crest of half a century on the planet. Which means I have aging eyes. I cannot focus on the front sight without reading glasses. In a shooting situation, bi-focals are obviously of no help. In practice, what this means is that I can't tell if the top of the front sight is aligned with the top of the rear sights. I've noticed that the problem is greatly exacerbated in the typically dim lighting of an indoor range. I can't even pick out the "night sights" on my front sights when indoors, all I see is a big black blur. Not nearly as much of a problem when shooting outside in daylight.
With each of my handguns, within 3-4 shots at the range, I can figure out where I need to be. After those first couple of shots, I am typically pretty accurate at the typical CCW test ranges (15 yds, 7 yds, 5 yds). However, I would like to improve my accuracy on the first shot. Do you have any tips for those of us with aging eyes?
Have you tried mounting a red dot to your pistol and leveraging the threat first focal point (target focus)? This aim style superimposes the dot on your target. You'll need to work on draw stroke so that you're effectively finding the dot first on every draw. If you have an astigmatism try the Holosun 510C.
I'm a bit over 60 and right eye dominant. My right eye has become weaker, the front sight has become blurry in my normal stance. I've started changing my stance and look down my sights to that Weaver stance and cocking my head till my left eye is taking lead down the front sight. It's working, I can get a clearer sight picture, I've just gotta trainmore till it becomes second nature.
red dot and move to target focus shooting.
just use regular reading glasses the target is supposed to be blurry it work great for me my shooting hasn't been better in years
I know this post is a little old, but glad to see there are others with the cross-eye dominance. I am about to begin competition shooting and chose carry optics so that I can work on shooting with both eyes open. I will try the modified stance next time I am at the range.
Hi! I'm really enjoying all the articles--thank you so much for what you do! I'm also cross-dominate (right hand, left eye). Does this affect you when shooting rifles? I can't seem to get a comfortable position being cross-dominate and shooting rifles.
You're so welcome, Sara! It does affect shooting rifles with a scope since there's not really a position to enable opposite hand/eye. You can try using your weak hand and strong eye. Or use a red dot or holographic sight where you can keep both eyes open.
Is it possible to not have a dominant eye? It seems like my left eye may be slightly dominant, but it is so small that the above mentioned test has me testing positive for both my right and left eye. For example, if I was to aim a gun at a target with both eyes open, both sights that I am seeing look equally strong. Any input on this would be appreciated.
Take advantage! I would practice with the eye that is the same as your dominant hand. That way you don't have to change your stance.
Great article as usually. Keep up the good work guys.
I've always been left-eye dominant and sort of knew it intuitively. This article not only confirmed it for me, but gave me great advice to use at the range. I tried the modified Weaver/Chapman stance and shot lights out! My buddies and I played target poker on one those targets with prints of playing cards on them, and I won! Three Aces.
Awesome, glad to help out my right-handed left-eyed brethren!
Awesome video! Check out our reactive targets, Threat/No Threat Pivotal Trainer, swag, and more at www.triumph-systems.com!
These guides are awesome! My coworker who is a part time cop and a shooting instructor told me the most important thing about guns I can learn is to 'stick to the basics'. Make sure you have a good stance and a good grip. Thanks for the articles! I'm going to read as much as I can to be as knowledgeable as I can in this industry.
Thanks so much Kyler! We aim to stick to to the basics.
Thanks! I am cross-dominant and didn't know how to stand. I will try this tomorrow!!
Ah, another member of the cross-dominant tribe! Let me know how it goes.
I'm cross eye dominate. Normally I close my dominant eye to aim. Do whatever you need to to hit the target, even if it is unconventional. I have a few marksmen, snipers and sniper trainers in my family. Both eyes open and I miss every time. One eye open and I can hit a squirrel in the eye from a hundred yards. Your results may vary.
I may have exaggerated.
I'm going to the range tomorrow for the second time with my Glock 19-11. I had an instructor tell me I needed to change how I shot because it wasn't correct. I'm cross-dominant and he kept saying 'you're not lining it up right'. So nice to read an article about how it really is a thing and I'm not defective like he made me feel!!
Hi Mega, so glad I could help a new shooter out!