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Shooting with Eyes Open or Closed?

Shooting with Eyes Open or Closed?

Shooting with Eyes Open or Closed?

Depending on which firearms instructor you talk with, you’ll either hear insistence that you’re supposed to shoot with both eyes open or that it’s alright to shoot with one eye open while the other eye is closed. So who is right?

Well, it all depends on you. Just like every one of us has different size hands, fingers and bodies, each of us also has different vision. You see, the majority of people are right eye dominant and right handed or left eye dominant and left handed. This means they’re more likely to be able to shoot with both eyes open because their dominant eye is on the same side as their dominant hand. 

However, there are a small percentage of folks…

Myself included, who are cross-eye dominant. For instance, I am right handed but left eye dominant. And when you try to shoot with both eyes open and you’re cross dominant you’ll see double, which doesn’t exactly make it easy to hit the target.

This is why I close my right eye when I shoot and (very) slightly tilt my head to the right so I can align the sights. It doesn’t affect my accuracy and if you’re cross-eye dominant I recommend that you tilt your head too.

I’ve heard many times before that the reason you don’t want to shoot with only one eye is because it narrows your field of vision. Yes, that is true, but it narrows it for only a split second. You see, I don’t walk around with my right eye closed all day long, I only close it when I’m about to take a shot.

And in the times in my life when I had to draw my gun, I remember getting on the threat and closing my eye and not having any problems at all. Thankfully I didn’t have to shoot and I obviously quickly opened my right eye when the threat was over.

So don’t worry too much about whether you shoot with one eye open or two.

Figure out what works best for you and then worry about hitting the targets. If I were a betting man, I’d say there are plenty of people who shoot much better with one eye closed than folks who shoot with both eyes open.

And don’t forget, if you’re still wondering which eye is your dominant eye, here is the simple test you do: Hold your hands up (palms facing out) and lay one hand’s fingers and thumb on top of the other hand’s fingers and thumb, making a small triangle with your thumbs and index fingers.  Your arms should be fully extended and the triangle should be in the middle of your body.

Slowly bring the triangle towards your face and whatever eye the triangle gravitates towards is your dominant eye. Trust me, this works, and if you don’t already know which eye is your dominant one figure it out today and then figure out if you want to shoot with one eye open or two.

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  • http://twitter.com/pbwp todd ellis

    i am right handed & left-eye dominant & as a kid had everyone trying to teach me to shoot with both eyes open & watching me fail miserably. it was in archery that i learned of my cross dominance & it changed my shooting life. just like you – i close my right eye & tilt my head slightly. works like a dream!

    • Tom Trantow

      I have the same story. I close eye when target shooting. In Archery – acutally I have gotten to the point where I can align shot with bow with left eye closed, then open both eyes to see where shot hits deer and how good of a shot it was. I dont have the option to allign bow shows with my dominanat left eye.

  • RayMarotta

    I am left handed and right eye dominant. Just to make it interesting, I shoot equally well with either hand. All of my gun leather is for a right handed shooter. I prefer my fork in my left hand and, my left hand penmanship is only slightly better and more comfortable
    than my right…

  • http://twitter.com/bmumford1 Brian Mumford

    I’m right-handed and left-eye dominant as well. I retrained to shoot a bow left-handed as well as my rifles (which are also left-handed bolt-action guns). My primary hunting weapon is my Browning BPS which is truly ambidextrous, and I shoot that righty or left depending on the situation (i.e. turkey hunting). That said, I shoot my handgun right-handed (though I’m trying to get better at shooting it lefty). I find that if I use an element of the Central Axis Relock (CAR) method, I can shoot righty or lefty and keep both eyes open by turning my head so that the bridge of my nose blocks the eye I’m not using. This way, the opposite eye always kicks in to compensate for the obstruction (of the nose). It’s different for everyone like the author said, but it’s worth experimenting with. I don’t strictly use the CAR or weaver stance as I believe a better strategy is to keep moving while you’re shooting which kind of makes advocating either of those approaches a moot point. Sometimes, however, it seems like my eyes struggle for dominance (even through a scope). If that’s the case, I agree with the author–shoot with one eye closed. The most important thing is hitting what you’re planning to shoot. The advantages of keeping your periphery open is secondary or tertiary at best.

  • MontaS

    It all depends on the person! An instructor who insists on “his or her” method is a poor instructor.

  • MicheleR

    I always thought I was cross dominant. I’m right handed and actually right eye dominate if I do the “dominate” eye test. However I shoot with my left open and right eye closed because it’s a clearer vision. I can’t shoot with both eyes open, because then I have double vision. I do wear no line bi-focals.

  • Fyrewerx

    I am also right hand – left eye dominant, but have learned to shoot (aim) both ways.
    However, I found one even easier, and more convincing, way to test eye dominance. Using a pistol, aim, with both eyes open, at the bullseye of a target (or even a dot on the wall) using only the barrel sight as focus point. Then holding the firearm steady, close your right eye and check to see if the sight is still on the target. Then open the right eye and close the left eye and re-check to see if the sight is still on the target. I’ve found that the dominant eye is the only one that remains on the bullseye.

  • Vans40

    “. And when you try to shoot with both eyes open and you’re cross dominant you’ll see double, which doesn’t exactly make it easy to hit the target.”

    As an instructor for more than 35 years I can say with some authority that this is true only if you’re not willing to expend the time and energy necessary to practice shooting with both eyes open. Those who do shoot with both eyes open know that the dominant eye takes over and the non-dominant eye simply does not focus. When you shoot rifle using a scope do you close one eye? If you do you’ve probably never been in a combat situation where you needed one eye on the scope but also needed to be able to be able to keep the non-scoped eye open so you could switch back and forth to check what was going on around you.

    Also, when you close one eye you’re constricting one or more muscles which contributes to early fatigue and headaches.

    We don’t beat on folks for only using one eye but we sure do point out the downside and give them exercises to try and become proficient using both eyes.

  • DerricksonJ

    Vans40 , talking about being cross dominant, and how that person should shoot, is a lot different than actually being cross dominant. Without experiencing it yourself, you really have no idea what its like.

  • Shooter45ACP

    I too am right-handed and left-eye dominant. I found this out many (many, many) years ago in a high human biology class. I have been shooting most of my life and I always closed my left eye when looking down a gun barrel or through a scope. It wasn’t until many years later when I began taking defensive handgun classes that an instructor asked me why I was closing my left eye. We adjusted my stance a bit and tilted my head and that took care of that. I’m much more comfortable now and I can actually shoot longer because my already challenged eyes don’t fatigue as fast. I still can’t shoot a rifle without closing an eye, but that’s alright. Do what’s right for you, but at least try it if you are cross-eye dominant.

  • Gerald Joslin

    I was once cross eye dominant. I trained myself to be right eyed dominant. It took awhile but now it’s the way I shoot without thinking about it. It’s all second nature now. It does take training but if I can do it, everyone can.

  • http://profiles.google.com/andyisageek Andy Upchurch

    I aim with my eyes – shoot with my gun. Although I’m right-side dominant, I can switch depending on angle and need. I practice strong/weak sides to maintain control no matter what the situation.

  • Allen Wall

    i have always shot with a scope with both eyes open its easy for me so i do it with a hand gun also but when i shoot with iron sights on a rifle i shut 1 eye is this crazy or what lol

  • James Reynolds

    Jason – I have to seriously disagree with your statement “when you try to shoot with both eyes open and you’re cross dominant you’ll see double, which doesn’t exactly make it easy to hit the target.” I am cross dominant (Right hand/Left eye). I can put my front sight right on my target and fire accurate hits easily with both eyes open. I don’t see double at all. I never winked at anyone that I pointed a gun at in 12 years of LE.

    New shooters should be encouraged to shoot with both eyes open, but they can take baby steps at first and use the dominant eye.

  • Will

    Whatever works for you. If you are comfortable shooting with both eyes open, then that`s how you should shoot. I have been trained and have shot, dead on I might add, for forty years plus with my right eye. I wouldn`t have it any other way.

  • Randy

    I believe your explanation on determining which is the dominant eye may need a bit of clarification, or possibly an “In other words, . . . .” addition to the instructions.

    The unanswered questions for me are these: What should I be focusing on when I am bringing my hands closer to my face? Is my focus off in the distance, looking through the triangle, or is it my hands themselves?

    Also, when you say, “whatever eye the triangle gravitates towards”, do you mean an actual physical moving of the hands to the left or right side as I draw them closer, or do you mean a visual perception movement of some sort?

    Thanks.