One of the most important skills for any marksman who operates off the range is how to shoot with both eyes open. In the static environment of the shooting range, closing off half your vision to line up a perfect, no stress shot might seem like an okay tactic but you are hindering your own potential.
When the situation becomes dynamic, you will rely on your ability to take in as much visual information as possible to stay safe and functional. Learning to shoot with both eyes open, thus allowing yourself the superior depth perception and spatial awareness of both eyes open shooting is one more step towards paving your path to perfection.
When on the battlefield, I want every advantage available to me. In a dynamic situation, I need to be able to asses terrain, threats and a whole host of visual information at high speeds. If I have to close one eye in order to line up a shot, I am cutting myself off from 50% of my potential information. As a marksman and as a survivalist, learning to shoot with both eyes open is an essential skill.
And most importantly, once you learn how to shoot a pistol with both eyes open, you can make fun of all the “Cyclops Shooters” who haven’t yet learned to shoot with both eyes open.
Learn To Shoot With Both Eyes Open
I get a lot of questions about learning how to shoot with both eyes open. I’ve gone over both eyes open shooting in my book and on my blog, and I know from the comments a lot of you have already mastered this marksmanship skill, which is great.
It’s something I talk about a lot, and I know it can be a bit challenging to change the way you aim to accommodate learning to shoot with both eyes open. The hardest part about teaching this skill is to describe what you see when you are learning how to aim with both eyes open.
A big part of learning how to shoot a pistol with both eyes open is training your brain to use new visual information. While that may sound daunting, learning to shoot with both eyes open is possible with a little bit of time and attention to how your brain processes visual information.
When shooting with both eyes open, you will have two sight pictures when you are aiming. A lot of you are telling me all the time, “I have two sight pictures, what do I do to get rid of one?” . Two sight pictures is good, this is part of the whole point shoot with both eyes open, but you will have to train your brain to ignore some of that information and only pay attention to one sight picture.
So you don’t want to get rid of that second sight picture, but you do want to train yourself to only pay attention to one while you are aiming down your sights. Learning to shoot with both eyes open means you will have to re-learn how to aim using these new visuals. This is actually a rare situation where it is easier done than said.
With this video I hope I think you will better understand what I’m talking about and how to master this skill. So, I want to not just tell you, but show you what I see when I shoot with both eyes open to help you learn how to shoot a pistol with both eyes open.
Shooting with Both Eyes Open and the Science of it
If you are interested in shooting with both eyes open and the science of shooting with two eyes, Julie Golob digs into this more on her blog as well. I had a chat with her and Barbara Baird on The Won episode #83. Another great resource for evaluating your eyes and how they relate to your aim is Eye on Performance sports vision training.
Learning how to shoot a pistol with both eyes open relies on your understanding of how your brain processes visual information, and how your eye works when you aim. With a little bit of learning about your eye and your vision, you will find shooting that learning to shoot with both eyes open is a simple matter of re-learning the visual cues you will use to make targeting decisions. Even if you still shoot on the range with your dominant eye, learning to shoot with both eyes open will go a long way towards making you a more effective marksman.
Two Warnings on eye dominant shooting
I should also note that you need to be able to shoot well with just one eye open before you start trying to shoot with both eyes open. It’s like trying to learn to juggle while riding a unicycle : probably impossible, and you’re going to waste a lot of time looking very stupid doing it.
Before you dive into shooting with both eyes open, spend time on dry fire drills or on the range utilizing your eye dominance shooting techniques. Learn to crawl before you walk, and learn either eye dominance shooting or cross dominant shooting. You need to learn to do each one separately before you put them together. If you are just starting out as a marksman, get your basics down before you shoot with two eyes. You will have a much better time if you work on your aim with one eye first before taking the jump to shoot with both eyes open. There are lots of great resources on this blog and in my book The live fire range is also the worst place you can learn to shoot with both eyes open. Your time, money and energy would be much better spent practicing dry fire. Not until you have trained your brain during dry fire should you start slinging lead down range with both eyes open.
Training Your Eyes to Shoot With Both Eyes Open
When learning how to shoot a pistol with both eyes open, I recommend some Optic Drills you can do at home, any time, for strengthening your eyesight. A lot of people think that as you age, your eyesight has to deteriorate, and that this is just a part of life.
When I started to notice my own eyesight giving me trouble, I did some research and discovered that notion is just false. The eye is a muscle, and like any muscle, it needs training and exercise to stay healthy and effective.
So, if you want to learn how to shoot with both eyes open, you will have to spend some time caring for and training your eyes, like any other part of your body.
How to Aim with Both Eyes Open Training Time
Dry Fire Pencil Drill
Training yourself to overcome eye dominance and make the most of your abilities as a marksman starts with learning to read the visuals you will have both on the range and on the battlefield. One of the things you can do to help train your brain to work with two sight pictures and learn how to aim with both eyes open is to practice two eyes aim with a pencil.
Take your pencil and aim it like a dart, pointing to a target, with both eyes open. Then, close your non-dominant eye and see how far off your aim is. Try this a few times to train your brain what you’re looking for when you aim your sights with both eyes.
Then try it the other way, aiming with your dominant eye and then opening both eyes to see what you should be looking for when you aim. You can do this drill anytime, anywhere, and if you get used to seeing how you have to aim to be accurate with both eyes, you will save yourself time, money, and frustration when you finally take this skill to the shooting range and master to shoot with both eyes open.
Near Far Focus
Another dry fire drill you can do any time, anywhere to train yourself to shoot with both eyes open is the near far focus drill. Like the pencil drill, the near far focus drill is about exercising your eyes as well as your brain, to give you the best possible advantages on and off the range.
Take an object with writing on it, like a pen or a business card, and practice switching your focus from that object to an object in the distance. If possible, try to find someone in the distance that also has writing, like a poster or a billboard. This drill isn’t meant to go fast. Take as long as you need to totally switch your focus from the small text in your hand to the far away text. By doing this, you are training your brain and your eyes to switch from short range focus to long range focus, an essential skill on the battlefield. These focus drills will go a long way towards helping you and your eyes learn to shoot with both eyes open.
How to Wake Up Your Eyes to Shoot With Both Eyes Open
So far I’ve talked about how to train your eyes, but how do you take care of your eyes? I start every day by gently washing my eyes with warm water. This is done with your eyes closed. I do not recommend flushing your eyes with tap water! The natural oils in your eyes keep them healthy and help you to see. That said, when your eyes have been closed all night while you sleep, those same oils can congeal and actually block your vision! Some of you may have experienced this when you wake up and notice your vision is slightly blurry until you wake up. For best practices on eye care, gently warm your eyes with warm water to help loosen up those oils and keep your eyes in top shape. Remember, your aim can only ever be as good as your eyesight. If you want to learn to shoot with both eyes open, you will have to make eye care a priority in your life.
Shoot With Both Eyes Open Eyewear
Like any part of your gear, your corrective lenses are very important to the efficacy of your aiming, especially when learning to shoot with both eyes open. A traditional pair of corrective lenses has the focus point directly in front of your eye.
This makes sense for most day to day activity, but what about when you are shooting? Your focus point when aiming down your sights is actually going to fall on the upper right section of your lenses. Ask your optometrist about decentered lenses to ensure that your eyewear are doing all they can for you while shooting.
Also ask for digital freeform surface lenses which have special curvatures which correct for distortion in the peripheries. Now, these lenses are an extra expense, and not optimized for daily life, but they are the absolute best eyewear for target shooting. When paving that path to perfection, I want you to be aware of absolutely every tool you could be using to reach your great human potential, and for many of you, specialized eyewear like this could be all the difference in your marksmanship.
I hope I’ve opened your eyes on how to shoot with both eyes open. If you have had success shoot with both eyes open, I would love to hear about it in the comments. Likewise, if you are having a hard time learning how to shoot a pistol with both eyes open, let me know what problems you are having and I will do my best to help.