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  1. #1
    Redhound80's Avatar
    Redhound80 is offline Junior Member
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    Cross domiance issue

    Hello all,

    I have been shooting IDPA matches for about a year and a half. Some of our local clubs also do steel matches or steel side matches to mix up the shooting. I am left eye dominant but shoot right handed. Where I notice the most difference in accuracy is when I shoot steel matches. I know lots of folks stuggle when shooting steel, but it seems to be more of a cross dominance issue than just doing it quick and accurate, for me. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Redhound80

  2. #2
    VAMarine's Avatar
    VAMarine is online now Administrator
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    From another thread:


    Quote Originally Posted by VAMarine View Post
    Cross dominant shooting is a funny thing, I'm left eye dominant and right handed and I've noticed the following:

    With pistols, I shoot more accurately using my left eye, but I've always been center when shooting with my right eye only, I just shoot tighter groups closing my left eye.

    With pistols, I can get good two eyes open sight picture by indexing my chin on my right shoulder and score good quick hits and maintain more peripheral vision than shooting with one eye open and one eye closed. Some like to cant the gun to the left at around a 45 degree angle (plus or minus) and have good results, but I didn't like the way the gun handled during recoil in that position.

    With rifles I've always shot right eyed only and managed to qualify mid to high expert multiple times while in the Marines, that's shooting with iron sights out to 500 yards and scoring hits on man size targets, shooting at 300 yards and 200 yards. It's not that big a deal being cross dominant with rifles if you're using iron sights. Some issues start up when you being using 1X optics, I can NOT get a good sight picture (proper sight alignment applied to the target) with an Aimpoint or EOTECH unless I close my left eye. Again canting the firearm will probably help, but I haven't really tried it with an optic equipped rifle. So with rifles I will shoot right eye only.

    As a cross dominant shooter, if you are going to shoot trap or skeet using your strong hand, you're screwed. You need to shoot the shotgun with whatever hand matches to your eye. You can probably learn to do it with the other hand, but it's going to be a pain in the rear.

    Back to pistols as this is the HANDGUN forum...

    There are many different schools of thought on cross dominance, I've been looking into this for a couple years and reading what others have to say on this matter and I've seen the following arguments.

    1: You should shoot with both eyes open for the improved peripheral vision.

    That only works if you can actually see your sights with both eyes open, unless your point shooting you need to see your sights to make hits. Not to mention that in times of mass adrenaline, we have the tenancy to go into tunnel vision and that improved vision of having two eyes open may not matter at all.

    2: You should shoot with whatever hand corresponds to your dominant eye.

    I don't know about everyone else, but my left hand is damn near useless. But here are two more points, one for and one against the above statement.

    A: Using your off hand that corresponds to your dominant eye will leave your strong hand available for negotiating obstacles and your mag changes may be faster.

    B: If you've been shooting with your hand that doesn't match your dominant eye, it's going to take a lot of practice getting used to drawing, aiming, and firing with the same precision* that you get with your dominant hand.

    3: You should cant the gun closer to your dominant eye.

    As noted above, guns are meant to recoil on a vertical plane, that's usually means that the gun is going to go with the front sight and travel at an arc. Canting the gun to get better sight picture is aligning the gun to hit you in the face and take your sights further off target while firing.

    So here's the real deal from what I've tried and what I've learned from other instructors.

    Use whatever method works for you and improve that method.

    If you find that you get better hits and better performance using your right eye only, stick with it. If your left eye is dominant but you close it, your right eye is now dominant by lack of options.

    If you want to shoot with two eyes open, adjust your head laterally until you find the right sight picture and practice alot with it until that position is where you naturally end up after drawing and presenting the gun on target. It's taken me almost two years but the practice is finally paying off and I'm getting that "instinctual muscle memory" sometimes I lapse and find myself closing my right eye but for the most part I'm doing OK.

    If canting the gun works for you, use it.

    You don't have to shoot the same for every ocassion. If I'm shooting a rimfire bulls eye competition where I'm not over working my left hand, I'll shoot left handed as that's where I get my most accuracy. If I'm shooting close up defensive stlye I use both eyes open, if the target is a little further out and smaller, I will close my right eye for the most accuracy while using my dominant hand as it gives my best overall performance under prolonged use.

    There is no right or wrong way to shoot if the results you get with a given method work for you.


    * Accuracy vs. Precision: Accuracy is doing somehting correctly, precision is doing something accurately a number of times in a row and acheiving the same result at the end of an action. I can shoot more accurately left handed, but as time goes on, my left arm wears out faster than my right and my accuracy is effected as a result of "the shakes". While shooting right handed, I acheive an acceptable level of accuracy and due to the greater strength of my right side, I get more precision, that is to say I can acheive the desired result (a good hit) more often while shooting right handed.
    Last edited by VAMarine; 11-02-2009 at 07:49 AM.

  3. #3
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    My competition-pistol coach was also coaching a cross-dominant guy who was right-handed and left-eyed.
    The cross-dominant guy was a good rifle shot, but had lots of trouble with his pistol.
    Our coach suggested that he switch to left-hand-dominant pistol shooting, and it worked very well for him.

    To make this technique work, you have to be pretty close to ambidextrous. The major problem is trigger control, so you need a strong and sensitive "switch-to" hand. Also, it requires lots of practice, to re-train your hands and body.

    I have recently been convinced that trigger control is a lot more important than eye function.
    Maybe it'd be best to go with your already-strong right hand, and retrain your head and shoulders to use a better left-eye position.
    The space between your eyes is comparatively small, so a minor shift in the way you set your head and shoulders would allow you to use your dominant eye with your dominant hand.
    Try it.

  4. #4
    Redhound80's Avatar
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    Thanks guys! Great info and nice to see that it is just fine to use what works best. I shoot shotgun and rifle left handed, made the switch there in 1982. I have shot pistol left handed under the watchful eyes of a competent instructor, slow fire. A concern I have for defensive pistol shooting is that in a potential crisis event, my natural tendency would be to favor dominant eye / dominant hand. Though not out of the question, in the least, I am reluctant to go completely left handed with the pistol. Is there any merit to my madness?

    Thanks,
    Redhound80

  5. #5
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is online now Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redhound80 View Post
    ...A concern I have for defensive pistol shooting is that in a potential crisis event, my natural tendency would be to favor dominant eye / dominant hand...
    This will not happen if you practice, practice, practice.
    A well-developed "muscle memory" trumps any "natural tendency."
    But the only way to develop muscle memory is to practice, practice, practice.
    (Dry-fire practice costs nothing, but it does the job.)

  6. #6
    Redhound80's Avatar
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    Yep, dry fire practice is invaluable. Difficult to achieve proper transition for multiple targets, though, with dry fire (you have to rack the slide before trigger press on the next target). Transition, being the critical part / point of shooting cross dominant. Any tips on transition indexing to help maintain proper sight picture on the small steel plate racks?

    Thanks,
    Redhound80

  7. #7
    VAMarine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redhound80 View Post
    Yep, dry fire practice is invaluable. Difficult to achieve proper transition for multiple targets, though, with dry fire (you have to rack the slide before trigger press on the next target). Transition, being the critical part / point of shooting cross dominant. Any tips on transition indexing to help maintain proper sight picture on the small steel plate racks?

    Thanks,
    Redhound80
    What are you shooting? The best way for live fire practice to build the "muscle memory" is either a .22 conversion, or complete .22 gun. You can shoot for hours cheaply. I just got my hands on a kit for my 1911 that I'm going to wring out on the plate racks and see what works well for me.

  8. #8
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is online now Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redhound80 View Post
    ...[Y]ou have to rack the slide before trigger press on the next target...
    Not so.
    Break dry-fire practice down into phases.
    One phase is pure trigger-press practice, thumbing the hammer or racking the slide for each press (with the weak-side hand, so as not to release your primary grip).
    Another phase is multiple-target practice, using one real press and several uncocked presses (or all uncocked presses) to address the targets.
    It works. Try it.

  9. #9
    Redhound80's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    Another phase is multiple-target practice, using one real press and several uncocked presses (or all uncocked presses) to address the targets.
    It works. Try it.
    Thanks Steve, I never really thought about this. I'll give it a go. The cocked trigger press is a bit different but the uncocked trigger press gives the full range of motion through the press. I think it will help. Any suggestions for a dry fire routine for multiple targets?

    I am shooting an S&W M&P 9 and a S&W M&P 45 in IDPA and steel matches. The M&P 9 has the magazine safety and I just didn't think about uncocked dry firing.

    Thanks again,
    Redhound80

  10. #10
    daddyhog's Avatar
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    I am left handed and right eye dominate. The only affect it has on me is sight adjustment. If I pick up some one elseís pistol I will invariably shoot high and to the right, if you pick up one of my pistols you will invariably shoot low and to the left. Cross dominance is not a problem that canít be overcome. One of the better shooters on the All Army pistol team, a world class shooter, developed a problem in his right wrist and had surgery. The surgery didnít help so he started shooting left handed. He is right eye dominate. Less than 6 months later he placed second in the Nationals shooting personal best scores. My advice: Donít worry about it. Practice a daily, look at the sights and pull the trigger straight to the rear.

  11. #11
    DJ Niner's Avatar
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    I'm cross-dominant; I've always shot long guns lefty and handguns right-handed using the left eye. It has worked well enough for me to gather a few shooting awards here and there over the last few decades. As my vision has changed in the last few years, I've come to find my left eye is not as overpoweringly strong as as it once was, and I've begun to use the right eye on occasion during long handgun shooting sessions. No difference in accuracy for me, but the speed of acquisition is slightly slower during draw-and-fire drills, as my body is still heavily programmed to line up the gun with my left eye during high-speed presentations.

    I've found when shooting steel plate racks that you can't wait for the plate to fall, or even to hear the sound of each hit for confirmation, and still have a decent time. You must shoot and immediately swing on and engage the next target, regardless of the results of the last shot, and then go back to clean up any missed/still-standing pates AFTER you've shot to the end of the rack. With this in mind, the best practice method I've found is shooting small paper plates as "fake" plates. If you can, find out the center-to-center spacing of the plates on the rack you'll be shooting later, and the size of the plates as well (many plate rack plates are 8 inches in diameter, but spacing can vary quite a bit). Set up slightly smaller paper plates (I use 6" dessert/cake paper plates) at the same distance and spacing. Practice draw-and-fire (or present and fire, if no holster is used) at the first plate ONLY for the first 30-50 rounds or so. After you feel comfortable and fast hitting that first plate, proceed to shoot two plates per start, then three, and finally the whole rack (6, usually). Concentrate on hitting the paper plate anywhere, FAST, and moving on to the next one. Then work on a smooth cadence and swing between plates. Finally, once you are hitting the plates every time on each pass, push the speed envelope to see just how fast you can hit them; you might just surprise yourself. Remember your top hit-'em-every-time speed, and try to stick to it in the match. Going too fast generates misses, and misses kill your cumulative time when you have to go back and clean up the dregs. It's ALWAYS faster to get them all on the first pass -- ALWAYS -- even if it SEEMS slower. Using the smaller plate in practice accomplishes two things; it makes even an edge hit on the paper a solid hit on a real plate, and it makes the real plates seem HUGE when you step up to the line on match day!
    "Placement is power" -- seen in an article by Stephen A. Camp
    (RIP, Mr. Camp; you will be remembered, and missed)

  12. #12
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    this thread has been AWESOME. I am cross dominant, and I can't tell you how many times I've gone into an eye ware store asking if they could prescribe me something to smarten up my right eye and dumb down my left.

    I am amazingly left eye dominant. to the point to wear as I type this I feel almost as if my right eye isn't even open, I "see" most everything through my left eye. in comparison if I close my left to force right eye viewing everything is near to being blurry and unfocused.

    that said I've shot right handed my whole life and we don't have enough time with weapons in the military to practice any way than we already know, so I've been waiting to get some time civilian side to practice either left handed, right handed left eyed, or (now that I've read this thread) both eye's with a head tilt to compensate for the non dominant eye.

    so much to do when I get back from deployment, how am I going to fund it all! lol

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