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Both Eyes Open

Shooting with both eyes

open is the correct method
whether shooting at moving
or stationary targets
By Marisa Lee, Regional Hunter Education Coordinator,
Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Most of us have heard of eye dominance but few people will cause your eyes to dilate differently. For a moment, the
really know the significance of what it is and how it works. data your brain receives appears confusing and even out of
Essentially, the dominant eye looks directly at an object focus at times. The brain is configured to operate with both
while the non-dominant eye looks at the same object eyes open and your eyes are used to working together.
from a slight angle. This small difference provides us with Furthermore, shooting with both eyes open will prevent
depth perception. excessive strain on a single sighting eye. Closing one eye over
The dominant eye is primarily relied on for precise posi- long periods of time fatigues the muscles of the face. Over
tional information and the non-dominant eye is used to help
time, it will also begin to fatigue other parts of the body.
determine distances. This ability to determine the distance
Once mastered, keeping both eyes open becomes a natu-
to an object is due to the two eyes receiving slightly different
ral part of the shooting process. Benchrest shooters do it
images due to the wide positioning on the face. The two im-
ages are contrasted by the brain to calculate distance. This is because they must make shots at the exact instant the wind
especially important in shooting sports disciplines. flags move to the correct position. Benchrest shooting is a
long distance precision shooting sport that uses flags to de-
Keep Eyes Open termine wind direction and speed. It is much too slow and
For shooting sports that involve moving targets, using ineffective to continuously open and close one eye to see
both eyes gives the shooter greater peripheral vision, which both the reticle’s position on the target and then the position
allows them to pick up the target sooner and judge its direc- of the wind flags.
tion and speed. The targets will look larger, closer and appear Practical pistol shooters could not move and shoot as fast
to move more slowly. Closing one eye robs your ability to as they otherwise could if they didn’t keep both eyes open.
distinguish depth of field and things will appear flat. Depth Try walking or running with one eye closed. It is disorienting
of field is an important attribute in our ability to make cor- to say the least as well as inefficient. Shooting with two eyes
rect judgments about the distance and behavior of a target. open allows for better balance and orientation while holding
For shooting sports that involve stationary targets, shoot- the firearm. Like anything else, keeping both eyes open may
ing with both eyes open gives you a much brighter and more
take practice. Once learned, however, it becomes second na-
natural field-of-view, even when looking through a peep
ture and the results are well worth the effort.
sight. The dominant eye focuses crisply and does the actual
What does shooting with both eyes open have to do with
“sighting” through the restricted area of the peep sight, and
the other eye “fills in the gaps” in the picture. your dominant eye? In order to shoot a rifle or shotgun, we
Additionally, the eyes adapt to the incoming light by con- must align the firearm underneath one of our two eyes, with
stricting or dilating the pupil like a camera lens. If one eye is the stock on our shoulder. If this shoulder is not the one that
closed, no light is allowed through the closed eye, while the corresponds with the dominant eye, then your brain could
transmission of light through the other eye is high. This forc- be fed a visual picture that would be erroneous, causing you
es the pupils to regulate the different amounts of light and to miss your target.

16 Outdoor Alabama | OCTOBER 2010


Determining Eye

Make a triangle with both of your

hands by overlapping your thumbs
and the top half of your fingers.

The author demonstrates

the correct stance and
safety procedure when
shooting—using eye
protection and keeping
both eyes open. 2 Extend your
arms toward
your target.

Determining Eye Dominance situation. Some adults who are cross dominant
So how do you determine which eye is may not want to take the advice of shooting
dominant? Start by making a small triangle opposite handed due to the time and dedica-
with your hands. (See Step 1) Keep your arms tion required to re-coordinate yourself to
outstretched away from your face, and with using your least dexterous side. It may feel
both eyes open, bring the triangle up to eye awkward at first, while the muscle memory is
level. Focus on the top of a friend’s nose. Your being relearned; however, in time it will come Look through the
triangle at the target.
friend can then tell you which eye is looking at to be second nature and feel just as natural as
him or her through the triangle of your hands. it did to shoot with your strong arm. Shoot-
You can also do this yourself by using a mir- ing from the shoulder on the same side as the 4 Keep your hand-triangle
ror and doing the same procedure on yourself. dominant eye is the best option to make you a small enough so that only
one eye can look through
Another way is to look through the triangle proficient shooter long term. it up close.
at a small distant object and then bring your There are always those people who say, “I
hands to your face while keeping the object in can’t do that!” I tell them nonsense; you can 5 Keep both eyes open.
view through the triangle. The eye that your do anything you set you mind out to do. My
hand comes to is your dominant eye. mother always told me, “Can’t never did a
Determining which eye is dominant deter- thing; he died in the poorhouse and the ants
mines if you need to shoot right or left hand- carried him out the keyhole!” As a child, I
ed. When shooting a bow, rifle or shotgun, if was not really sure what that meant, but oddly
you are right eye dominant you should shoot enough, after she told me that, I always ac-
right handed and if you are left eye dominant complished what I said I couldn’t do.
you should shoot left handed, regardless of I could list countless professional shooters Move your hands
which is your strong or weak hand. Being in all disciplines who have mastered the tech- back to your face,
right or left handed will not necessarily de- nique, as well as non-professional shooters still looking at the
target through your
termine if you are right or left eye dominant. including my Dad. Are you really any different hands. Whichever eye
Approximately two thirds of the population from any of them? your hands gravitate
is right-eye dominant and one third left-eye Bottom line, in the shooting sports, you toward is your domi-
nant eye.
dominant. In a small portion of the popula- should shoot with both eyes open, and shoul-
tion neither eye is dominant. der your firearm under your dominant eye.
Cross dominance is a term used to de- The rewards will be worth the effort. Before
scribe someone who is right handed and left you know it, your scores will skyrocket and Double check by holding the triangle
at arms distance again and closing your
eye dominant or left handed and right eye your time on the range or in the field will be non-dominant eye. The target should
dominant. This can be a highly intimidating more productive. remain centered in the opening.

www.outdooralabama.com 17