An important skill every gun owner should master is how to shoot with both eyes open.
This might seem like a strange concept to you. When we first start shooting, we typically make a point of closing our off-eye.
This gives us a clearer sight picture and helps lower brain activity in the half not being used. It’s been taught as a fundamental of sharpshooting for decades.
Well, it’s true closing your non-dominant eye makes lining up your target easier. But having both eyes open can also be detrimental in a survival situation.
Why You Want to Shoot With Both Eyes Open
There’s no immediate reason to shoot a target with both eyes open.
However, it helps develop the skill; storing it in your muscle memory for a situation where you need to keep both eyes open.
As explained in greater detail in What Goes On in the Human Body When Firing a Gun, your body is being pumped full of hormones like adrenaline and norepinephrine. These chemicals race through your bloodstream, causing your heart rate to increase and your pupils to dilate.
This dilation is very important in a defensive shooting situation. Your brain is trying to absorb as much information as possible.
Closing your off eye reduces your field of vision, which in an active situation can cause you to miss something important. It might even be something that makes the difference between life and death, either for you or for someone else on the scene.
Trying to willfully close your non-dominant eye also distracts you. With all the adrenalin in your body, both eyes want to naturally stay open.
By trying to override that natural inclination, you’re shifting your focus away from the situation at hand. And that too can mean the difference between life and death.
Step 1: Confirm Your Dominant Eye
This is dead easy.
Bringing your hands up, form a triangle with your thumbs and index fingers to frame an object about 15-feet in front of you. The object should be in full view when you have both eyes open.
Now close one of your eyes. If you can still see the object in your hand triangle, then the eye that’s open is your dominant eye.
Step 2: Practice Focusing Your Eye
If you try shooting with both eyes open without preparing yourself, you’ll have a serious issue trying to line up your sights.
Instead, teach your brain to focus through your dominant eye while your off eye remains open to maintain peripheral vision. There are 2 ways to do this – take your pick:
Method 1: Chapstick
Grab your shooting glasses and smear a layer of chapstick over your non-dominant eye’s lens. This way, you’re blurring the image, forcing your brain to focus through your dominant eye even though both of them are open.
Method 2: Open-Shut
This method is a little more involved, but it’s far better.
Line up your shot like normal, with just your dominant eye open. When your finger takes the slack out of the trigger, open your non-dominant eye too.
You’ll either have 2 targets in view or 2 guns, depending on your focus habit. If you usually focus your aim using the front sight, you’ll see 2 targets; if you usually use the target itself, you’ll see 2 guns.
So which is the right sight?
Well, if you’re seeing 2 targets, aim for the one on the side of your dominant eye. If you’re right-eyed, shoot the one on the right.
If you’re seeing 2 guns, the firearm on your non-dominant eye’s side has the correct sight. So if you’re right-eyed, the gun on the left is the right one.
Step 3: Practice
Close your non-dominant eye and open it again before taking your shot. This trains your brain to focus on the right sight.
Once you do this at least 50 times in a single session, start trying to seize the proper sight while both eyes are open. Take another 50 shots this way.
By the end of the session, you’ll be well on your way to shooting properly with both eyes open. But it won’t happen overnight – practice, practice and practice some more.