Association between eye dominance and training for rifle marksmanship: a pilot study

J Am Optom Assoc. 1996 Feb;67(2):73-6.


Background: This pilot study was performed to determine the effect, if any, exerted by crossed dominance (contralateral hand and eye dominance) on the ability of novice riflemen to learn how to accurately shoot a rifle.

Methods: Sighting dominance was used to determine the dominant eye. Hand dominance was determined by the arm used to shoulder the rifle in the shooting position. Subjects were 308 military recruits at the Fort Benning Army Base in Columbus, Georgia, who had undergone basic training in rifle marksmanship. Qualification scores obtained at the base rifle range were used to measure the subjects' ability to learn marksmanship skills.

Results: The subjects with right-hand/right-eye and left-hand/left-eye (uncrossed) dominance had qualification scores that were significantly higher (p = .009) than the subjects with right hand/left-eye and left-hand/right-eye (crossed) dominance. A significantly higher percentage of subjects with uncrossed dominance achieved rifle qualification (86.1 percent) than subjects with crossed dominance (56.5 percent) (p = .000).

Conclusions: The learning of rifle marksmanship is influenced by eye dominance. Individuals who shoot right handed and are left-eye dominant or who shoot left handed and are right-eye dominant do not learn marksmanship skills as readily as individuals who have matched eye and hand dominance. Since crossed hand and eye dominance can be easily determined, it should be possible to identify cross dominant individuals and provide them with special training so that they can perform at a higher level of skill.

MeSH terms

  • Firearms*
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sports*