When new shooters learn to fire a gun, they usually start like most people do—closing one eye to aim while looking towards the target downrange. However, some experienced gun owners actually prefer to shoot with both eyes open. Why do they do this, and what’s the most effective approach? Here are the pros and cons of shooting both ways.
How Do You Shoot With One Eye Open?
Let’s start with the most familiar way to new shooters: closing one eye and looking through the scope or down the iron sights with the open eye. Which eye you close depends on whether you’re right or left-handed, but you generally want the dominant eye closest to the gun to be open.
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What Are the Benefits of Shooting With One Eye Open?
There’s a reason why most people learn how to shoot like this—it’s incredibly natural. Most of us have what’s called a dominant eye¹, which is, without getting into too much technical detail, the eye that’s better at interpreting visual data and relaying it to your brain.
Also, closing one eye makes it easier to direct your focus solely on your sights or what you see in the scope and blocks out everything else.
Are There Disadvantages to Shooting With One Eye Open?
The previously listed benefit of directing your focus is a negative in the opinion of a growing number of shooting instructors and experts. Many people train to use guns and own them for self-defense or recreational hunting. In a situation in which you’re using your firearm for these purposes, you want to be able to see everything around you.
Although it may be easier to focus on one thing, closing one eye significantly reduces your field of vision and your ability to see your surroundings thoroughly.
Shooting With One Eye Open – Summary
- More natural for most people
- Allows for the use of your dominant eye
- Easier to direct your focus
- Reduces overall field of vision
How Do You Shoot With Two Eyes Open?
First, aim as you usually would with one eye slightly closed, then open the closed eye completely. Work on focusing with your dominant eye while both eyes are open. This will take some getting used to, but blinking your non-dominant eye a few times will help you focus as you get more familiar with the process.
If you’re shooting with safety glasses on (which you should always do), a neat trick is to lightly coat the lens of your non-dominant eye with a bit of lip balm to blur the image. This will eventually help your brain to disregard any double-vision effects you might be experiencing and allow you to focus on your target with both eyes open.
What Are the Pros of Shooting With Both Eyes Open?
The increased field of vision is arguably the most important and notable benefit of shooting with both eyes open. Hunters scanning the sky or horizon appreciate being able to spot the mallard that’s currently in their scope as well as the one 50 feet away from it for the next shot.
Shooting with both eyes open² significantly increases repeatability and allows you to move on to the next target quickly without possibly disorienting yourself from making rapid switches between one eye being open and both.
What Are the Cons of Shooting With Both Eyes Open?
Shooting with both eyes open can take some getting used to, especially if you were taught to shoot with one eye closed. When going to the range for the first few times and shooting with both eyes open, the urge to “cheat” and slightly or entirely close your non-dominant eye will be strong.
Don’t fight it! The urge will slowly go away with practice as you become more used to focusing and aiming guns with both eyes open.
Shooting With Both Eyes Open – Summary
- Increased field of vision
- Increased ability to move on to the next target
- Can be difficult to get used to
- May cause a double-vision effect at first
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Hone Your Skills and Perfect Your Aim at The Range 702
It really doesn’t matter whether you shoot with one eye open or both. Most shooting instructors will tell you that you should do what feels natural and gives you the best results. If you’ve started with one eye closed, it may be worth trying to learn how to shoot with both eyes open. There are benefits to both styles, and it can’t hurt to try each one to formulate your own opinion.
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¹Heiting, G. (April 2022). Dominant Eye Test: How to Find Your Dominant Eye. All About Vision. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
²Melloni, F. (23 March 2022). How (& Why) You Should Keep Both Eyes Open While Shooting. NRA Family. Retrieved 25 April 2022.