Eye Dominance, Zero, Low Light, and the Pistol


For more Manual Monday, we are continuing our discussion on aiming the pistol. Specifically, we will be addressing non-dominant eye use, incorrect zero, and low-light conditions with the pistol. Discussing all elements of the shot process for the pistol is a vital discussion, as the M17 will be fielded to elements of the 82nd within the near future. The M17 will also be going to more people than it is currently. So all of us need to improve our shot process with the pistol. The reference for this discussion is FM 3-23.35 Dated May 2017.

As a refresher, the aim element of employment is the continuous process of orienting the weapon correctly, aligning the sights, aligning sights on the target, and applying the appropriate hold during a target engagement. Aiming is a continuous process conducted through pre-shot, shot, and post-shot, to effectively apply lethal fires in a responsible manner with accuracy and precision


The Paratrooper gets the greatest amount of visual input from their dominant eye. Eye dominance varies from individual to individual. Sometimes the dominant eye will be the opposite of the dominant hand. For example, a Paratrooper who writes with the right hand and learns to shoot pistols right-handed might learn that the dominant eye is the left eye. This is called cross-dominant. Paratroopers with strong cross-dominant eyes should consider firing using their dominant eye. Unlike a rifle, it is usually possible to fire a pistol with the opposite eye by simply tilting the head slightly to use the dominant eye. This is preferable to squinting or closing the dominant eye. It is also possible to switch to firing with the non-dominant hand, but this may require substantially more training for Paratroopers who are not ambidextrous.


Regardless of how well a Paratrooper aims, if the zero is incorrect, the round will not travel to the desired point of impact without adjustment with subsequent rounds. (AN/PEQ 14 laser can be adjusted). An incorrect zero can also happen with iron sights. The shooter must adjust their hold. Although badly zeroed M9s are not common, it is usually an error in the Paratrooper’s technique, it does happen, and the only real solution is for the shooter to hold off. This is often an indication of broken sights.


Limited visibility conditions contribute to errors aligning the sight,
selecting the correct point of aim, or determining the appropriate hold. Paratroopers may offset the effects of low light engagements with image intensifier (I2) devices and the use of laser pointing devices or flashlight. Glare from front sight post can be corrected with sight blackout.

Now that we know what these errors are, how do we overcome them? Eye dominance can be checked by having the Paratrooper conduct the test as illustrated in the picture below. The eye that closes and causes the object to shift is the non-dominant eye.

Incorrect zero can be overcome by the application of the shot process and dry fire before coming to the range. Appendix D, TC 3-23.35 outlines the recommended drills for the pistol. Paratroopers coming to the Enduring Range for pistol qualification receive rounds to group with and see where the pistol is shooting for them. Once that first group is complete, they apply a hold to adjust their intended point of impact. This is how you ‘zero’ the M9.

Limited visibility conditions need to be practiced. Pistol work is challenging enough to do during daylight hours. Doing it at night just adds to the difficulty level. NCO’s need too determine what tactics, techniques, and procedures will work for them, and then practice them. If it is using a pistol under night vision devices, it needs to be practiced. This does not require going to the range, just some time and creativity when it comes to dry-fire.

Keep in mind; the pistol is the most perishable skillset for any Paratrooper to learn. The best Combat shooters in the Army will devote the majority of their training time to this weapons system, even though less than one percent of the engagements they encounter require a pistol.

So to sum up, we’ve discussed eye dominance, improper zero for the pistol, and low light conditions. We also discussed methods of training to overcome them. Next week, we will begin our discussion on control as it relates to the pistol.
#weaponsmastery #shotprocess


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