Monday, August 26, 2013

Confessions of a Cross-eyed Dominant Shooter

I can recall the first time I noticed something was off about my eyes, I was issued my first ACOG while serving in the Marines. I was beyond excited to have something other than iron sights to go into battle with, we were instructed to keep both eyes open while acquiring a target and everyone but a couple people including myself had some difficulty. It was like my eyes were working in an opposite manner and that my left eye was the stronger eye and I was not even seeing the reticle from the ACOG.
 I raised my hand and mentioned my issue but since it was the Marines somehow it was my fault and was just told I was a moron and was using it wrong by my platoon sergeant. The instructor who actually knew what he was talking about walked up to me and explained that I may be cross eye dominant, I had no idea what that meant. The instructor had me make a triangle with my two hands thumb touching thumb and my two index fingers touching, I was then instructed to hold it out in front of me and to bring it straight back, well I did just that and I notice that my hand triangle is over my left eye. Being a simple Lance Corporal at the time  I just stood there with a dumb look on my face I’m sure,  he then explained that the ACOG will still work for me but to keep my left eye closed.  I got into a few good firefights using the ACOG, and this piece of equipment worked to a level that using a word like awesome does it no justice. 
I got out of the military and a few years after I found myself missing the trigger time, I got back into guns and started to research more about marksmanship as a cross eye dominant shooter. I was not really impressed with what I found for informative tools for me to utilize to become a great shooter. I know from my experience on the battlefield that putting tape over my eye or wearing something that inhibits my vision on my dominant eye is probably the most idiotic thing I have ever even had the displeasure of reading. Why would I sacrifice my situational awareness because of a dominant eye on the wrong side? I start to think about realistic options for me to either overcome or to adapt in a way that I could be a two eye open shooter who actually hits the target without sacrificing my fields of view. I decide that it’s worth a try to just apply the same fundamentals used to create muscle memory for other muscles in the body, why not my eyes have muscles that control them and if I can train myself to do a break fall every time I am about to hit the deck why can’t I train my eyes to do the same. I started off slowly using a pistol since you can use either eye to aim without changing your stance or grip.  I first start out by using my left eye only to aim and it felt unnatural but I shot pretty good, I then used my right eye only and shot decent as well, I did this for a month or so just shooting with each eye separately and then when I felt comfortable with both enough I start to slowly use my right eye more and more to aim. I was making some good progress so I attempted to give both eyes open a try and I immediately noticed I lost the front sight on the pistol for a brief moment. I tried to refocus and stick to the fundamentals of marksmanship, I decide that it would be a waste of ammo figure this part out at the range; I then make it a point for months to basically start snapping in or dry firing with a safe and cleared pistol for about 20 minutes a few time a week and gradually I notice that I can make the conscious effort to have both eyes open and acquire a target correctly. The front sight is clear and the target is hazy, no double vision. I look through a long eye relief 4x CQB scope and slowly attempt both eyes open and I can see the reticle the way the optic was meant to work. Being cross eye dominant is not a death sentence on marksmanship; it just takes a little dedication and some hard work to be able to shoot with both eyes open.