It’s normal to think you should keep one eye shut for better focus over your target. But I’m going to debunk that shooter myth!
Because actually, shooting with both eyes open will HUGELY IMPROVE your shooting game. I know mine did!
Although I won’t lie there’s a learning curve, it’s EASIER than you think!
Let’s get into how to shoot with both eyes open!
- Tips on How to Shoot with Both Eyes Open
- Training to Aim with Both Eyes: How It’s Done
- Why Shoot with Both Eyes Open?
- Disadvantages of Shooting with Both Eyes Open
- Have Trouble Shooting? – Common Mistakes to Watch Out for
- Keep Your Heads Up and Eyes Open
Tips on How to Shoot with Both Eyes Open
As weird as it is to think, learning to shoot with both eyes open is actually BETTER when you’re starting out as opposed to learning it as a skill later on.
Even if you’ve been shooting for years now, these tips will still apply to you and help you polish your shooting skills.
1. Know Your Dominant Eye
If people use one hand more often, it isn’t so strange to think that our brain prefers using one eye over the other too, right?
Except…there’s one thing you’re missing here.
Eye dominance IS NOT about one eye having better vision or clarity than the other eye. It’s more about which one leads faster and, again, that’s mainly up to preference.
Usually, the dominant eye provides more accurate information to the brain than the non-dominant one, so knowing your dominant eye is helpful for shooting.
DID YOU KNOW: Hand and eye dominance are thought to be related, meaning if you’re right-handed you’re probably right eye dominant but that doesn’t always follow.
Having opposite hand and eye dominance can be tricky but it’s nothing that can’t be worked with!
Yes, you can be right-hand dominant and then left-eye dominant.
The Super-Simple Method to Finding Your Dominant Eye
- Focus on an object that’s fairly far away from you – about 10 or 15 feet.
- Make a triangle with your hands, then put that object inside the triangle.
- Close one eye (left eye) and then the other (right eye).
- If you closed the right eye and the object stayed in the middle of the triangle, congratulations, you’re right eye dominant!
- If you closed the left eye and the objects stayed in the middle of your left eye, good for you, you’re left eye dominant!
This goes without saying, but if you closed one eye and the object moved from the center, say hello to your non-dominant eye.
It doesn’t really matter whether you’re left-eye dominant or right-eye dominant since your performance depends on your skill.
2. Aiming with Both Eyes
Let’s make it clear that when you’re shooting with both eyes open, you aren’t really using both eyes to focus on your target.
The dominant eye is still the one being used to focus on the target.
So what’s the difference?
This time… the non-dominant eye stays open too – technically, you’re still shooting with one eye.
There are a bunch of reasons why shooting with both eyes open is a good thing:
First, it allows you to see a WIDER field of view.
Closing one eye of course limits the field of view, changes lighting, and our vision needs to adjust.
If both eyes stay open, you won’t come across that problem.
Second, let’s say, for example, you’re in a high-pressure situation and adrenaline rushes through your nervous system.
It’s pretty difficult to actively work on keeping one eye closed just to focus the other eye.
But, if you already practice keeping both eyes open, it just takes away that extra effort.
You gotta stay ready so you don’t have to get ready!
Training to Aim with Both Eyes: How It’s Done
Two words: Muscle. Memory.
It’s hard at first to learn how to focus on using your dominant eye even if the other eye is open.
First, find your balance. I hope that while you’ve been practicing shooting, you have been standing squarely on both feet, yes?
Well, good because that’s the first step.
Now, you can try out a method or two to start training and see which works for you.
I’ve given you a few options but whichever you settle with is totally your choice.
There’s a couple of things you can do to get used to keeping both eyes open while shooting:
- Squint your non-dominant eye while holding up your gun. This will clear away any blurred vision while you practice keeping both eyes open
- Wear shooting glasses and blur the non-dominant eye side with Chapstick or cover it up with tape. This will force your brain to work on using the dominant eye while still having the other eye open.
- Use an eye patch when practicing. Basically the same concept as the glasses tip. This way your brain is forced to concentrate on a target with one eye.
When practicing this technique, focus on your front sight while holding up your gun and your eyes will get the hang of it!
These tips really helped me develop good muscle memory over time that I didn’t even realize that I was shooting with both eyes open!
1. Cross Eye Dominance
Remember when I said that sometimes even if you’re right-handed, you may be left eye dominant?
That’s called cross-eye dominance and a lot of expert shooters have it.
Yes, being cross dominant may make things a bit tricky in terms of balance and technique but you can easily overcome it.
Some instructors might tell you to switch hands, meaning use your non-dominant hand to match your dominant eye, which you can do in certain situations.
Although, it’s easier to maneuver things with your dominant hand – especially with pistols – so why on earth would you give that up?
You just have to practice your sight alignment with your dominant eye and adjust your gun position and shooting technique.
Remember! Front sight focus is key!
Here’s how to clear up your sights:
- With pistols – Line up your sights.
- Align your gun with your non-dominant eye.
- Keep your head neutral and just slightly shift your hands over to line the pistol up with the dominant eye.
- With rifles – Train your non-dominant eye or hand.
- This technique is a little bit more tedious than with a pistol but if you want to shoot with a rifle it’s something you have to do.
- Using the same process as training the muscle memory of your dominant eye, work on focusing with your non-dominant eye.
- You can also train your non-dominant hand to use the gun so that you can look through the scope with your dominant eye and get a good picture of your shot.
2. Dry Fire Practice for Both Eyes Open
Now that you know how to start training for the technique, proceed to the shooting range.
I started with a dry fire practice (without ammunition) BEFORE shooting with a real gun, so I recommend you do the same.
Shooting with both eyes open is a new skill and you might struggle a bit at first so it’s best to be safe.
A dry fire practice with both eyes open allows you to maneuver your gun, feeling the same response but in a controlled situation.
Starting Dry Fire Practice
Dry fire practice for both eyes open is a great way to test your target shooting skill while making sure you stay safe.
If you’re ready to practice to keep both eyes open, here’s how to get started:
- Check that your weapon case is UNLOADED.
- Did you do it? Good. Now, check it again.
- ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK that the weapon is not live, again, safety first!
- Set up your targets
- Have at least two targets roughly 10 feet apart.
- It’s always best to practice with targets of different sizes and distances.
- Practice sighting your target with BOTH EYES open.
- This applies to whatever weapon and optic you are using (pistol, rifle, or shotgun, with iron sights, red dot, or scope)
- Once you have a clear front sight picture with both eyes open, practice drawing, aiming, and firing, keeping in mind the front sight of the gun
- If you’re worried about firing you can always load up your case with a dummy round with both eyes open.
- From here, perform shooting drills regularly and use a shot timer with both eyes open
- You’ll see yourself shoot with both eyes open with your front sight picture in no time!
Why Shoot with Both Eyes Open?
The main reason? To step up your shooting game.
Whatever your situation, whether it’s competitive shooting, target shooting, or hunting, shooting with both eyes open will give you a better field of view.
You see more without actually even noticing it!
But let’s break it down for you. Here are some of the benefits of knowing how to shoot with both eyes open!
Tunnel Vision vs. Peripheral Vision
Like I mentioned before, if you shoot with both eyes open it gives you a wider field view, which is better for you regardless of the situation.
Let me give you an example.
Imagine that you’re driving. What would you feel more comfortable seeing?
- A small but precise line of view of whatever is right ahead of you? or…
- A fuller and wider image of the road where you can prepare for whatever’s coming from the front or to your side?
Put simply, are you more comfortable seeing the single car in front of you? Or the car in front of you AND the two other sedans driving beside it?
I’m hoping it’s the second option.
That’s the difference between HAVING tunnel vision and USING peripheral vision.
When you shoot with both eyes open, you allow yourself to use your peripheral vision. You can see the full field of view, not just your target.
It’s always best to be prepared and see NOT ONLY where your subject is but where you are in relation to them and what’s happening around both of you.
This way, you’re more aware of your surroundings and any changes in the area that could affect your shot, without taking your eye off of your target.
PRO TIP: Speaking of clear vision, it’s important to have the right eye protection and shooting glasses to keep your eyes in good condition while you shoot.
ACTUALLY Seeing Your Front Sight Picture
I know, you’re probably thinking.
“What are you talking about? Of course, I can see my shot, I know exactly where I’m aiming and I’m pretty sure I know what it’s going to hit.”
Yeah, I’m sure you can see your shot but can you really see it? You’re only pretty sure about where it’s gonna end up?
That’s not what you want, is it?
You always want accuracy and extreme precision! We all want to be better shooters here, right?
When you close one eye, you lose an ENTIRE part of your vision.
Think about that for a second. A whole line of front sight is lost just by closing one eye.
Seeing everything allows you to quickly assess where you have to aim next and how to plan out your next shot.
Instead of you having to open both eyes a split second after you’ve pulled the trigger, why not just have both eyes open already?
I’m not saying you won’t miss the shot, but even if you do, you’ll at least have an easier time seeing where the bullet went and readjusting.
Moving Targets: Easy Peasy
Again, let me paint a little picture for you.
You’re practicing your shooting and it’s going well so far. Keep in mind you’ve been closing one eye this whole time.
You decide you want to improve your game a little, so let’s try moving targets. Okay, hold up.
All of a sudden, you’re missing a lot even though you’re just as concentrated as you’ve been with the static targets.
Everything’s moving so fast, you’re losing concentration, you end up opening both your eyes and try shooting, and then it’s just messy.
Not such a pretty picture is it?
As a shooter, you might find yourself in many situations where you’ll need to aim at a moving target – competitive shooting, hunting, or what have you.
You always want to make sure you’re prepared!
The thing is, you’re not always going to be practicing at the shooting range and you won’t always have full control of the target.
So, how are you supposed to manage a moving target if one of your eyes is closed?
Again, like I said, if you shoot with both eyes open you have a fuller field of vision, which you’ll need if you want to aim at a moving target.
In hunting, all targets are moving targets.
The animal could be running, walking, or just standing there but even then, it turns its face, breathes, looks around. IT MOVES.
You would need BOTH eyes to figure out how far away your target is and their surroundings to get a full picture of how you’re going to take your shot.
For all shooting scenarios but especially in hunting it’s always important to think ahead and know what’s beyond your target.
The animal could move, another animal or object could come into view, the lighting might change, leaves and branches could fall.
It’s NATURE, anything can happen!
If you shoot with both eyes open, then you’ll be able to quickly adapt to the changes in the environment.
Target Shooting: Yeah, These Move Too
Moving target practice is a great way to build your skill as a shooter and train your non-dominant eye.
I’ve used swinging targets, drop turners, and various activated moving targets to practice shooting with both eyes open.
From my experience, it actually made the whole process EASIER!
In this practice situation, your non-dominant eye focuses on the movement and timing of the object, telling you when the most accurate timed shot is.
Meanwhile, your dominant eye focuses on the front sight of your gun, ready for when the target comes into view for the perfect time to take your shot.
Crazy right? Two separate eyes doing two separate things. That is the beauty of knowing how to shoot with both eyes open.
It might sound more complicated than it really is on paper, but once you’re out hunting with your shotgun and get a good position, you’ll know what I mean!
Disadvantages of Shooting with Both Eyes Open
Of course, like I said, if you are a beginner and aren’t used to keeping both eyes open, there will be quite a learning curve.
In my case, it was just a natural body reaction to close one eye when placing the other on a scope or looking through iron sights.
You may experience that too, so it may take some getting used to.
Another problem I had was getting distracted by my surroundings.
I know it’s beneficial to see ALL your surroundings, but it will also be tempting to look elsewhere, and next thing you know, your target has run away.
At that point, it’s just a matter of maintaining sharp focus and concentration and keeping your eyes on the prize!
Have Trouble Shooting? – Common Mistakes to Watch Out for
At this point, maybe you’ve already started practicing and have come across a few roadblocks and this is the part you’ve been waiting for.
Blurred vision or one eye just won’t stay open?
Well, okay then, no time like the present so let’s get on with it.
Here are some common mistakes many people make when learning how to shoot with both eyes open.
Your Eyes Have It
What I mean to say is don’t lead with your gun. See the target first with your eyes, BOTH OF THEM and your weapon will follow.
Don’t move your gun toward the target without first clearly concentrating your sights on your target. EYES FIRST. GUN LATER.
The information sent from your eyes to the rest of your body guides your hands to move where they need to be. Trust that you’re body is smarter and more intuitive than you might think.
“I Know I Only Put Out Two Targets – Why Do I See Four?!”
Seeing two sight pictures, huh?
I’ve experienced double-vision before and started doubting my depth perception and if I really put up two targets.
Don’t worry, it’s likely just your vision adjusting to you finally keeping both eyes open when you’re shooting.
I think this method is beneficial because humans naturally have binocular vision, meaning that we normally use both our eyes to process what we see.
If you’re a shooter with binocular vision, closing one eye could actually be handicapping you.
But if you’ve been shooting that way for years, then it’ll take some time to readjust your vision once you keep both eyes open.
Keep working on training your eye on your front sight. In time, your dominant eye will take over.
Eventually, when you continue focusing on the front sight, your non-dominant eye will follow too and lead to support your dominant eye.
Next thing you know, you have both eyes open, the full sight of the target, and its surroundings in front of you!
Yes, humans are creatures of habit but habits can be changed.
Keep Your Heads Up and Eyes Open
You’re now a little bit closer to knowing how to shoot with both eyes open.
It may be a little daunting but with dedication, these tips will get you where you need to be.
Remember: TRUST THE PROCESS! Stay safe and smart! Happy hunting!
FINAL TIP: For more tips and tricks for your hunting, you can check out my Guide on What to Check Before Picking Your Hunting Firearm.