More often than not during a shooting course, may it be pistol, carbine or precision rifle, a few of the students will ask, “Do you shoot with both eyes open?”

Before answering the question with a “yes” or “no”, I ask them two major questions before discussing something we all face in a life or death situation. Fight or Flight.

  1. When you close your non-dominant, can you see whats to your left or right.  Situational awareness
  2. Does closing the non-dominant eye make you any more accurate

In a fight or flight situation, many things happen, for the sake of this article, I will name a few:

Two of these should stand out to you more than the rest of the symptoms of fight or flight in regards to why you should keep both eyes open: dilation of the pupil and tunnel vision/loss of peripheral vision.  With these two natural occurring symptoms that directly affect your eyes, why add to the problem by only giving yourself one eye to shoot with?  If you can remember the last time you were startled or scared, can you recall what your eyes did in that situation?  More than likely your eyes looked like two large saucers.

Keeping both eyes open is something every shooter should strive for.  Muscle memory through countless hours of repetition is the key to overcoming the “one eye closed” problem, and overcoming a self-induced error with the belief that it make you more accurate.  Your dominant eye will take “control” of the situation and gather the sight picture just fine.  The non-dominant eye will also pick up the sight picture, but will more or less pick up things outside of the tunnel vision and widen you situational awareness.

If you are having trouble finding which is your dominant shooting eye, here is a simple test you can perform in your home on your free time.

  1. With both eyes open, look at an object and point to it.  If you are in your home, point to a light switch 10-20 feet away.
  2. Now close one eye.  If your finer appears to jump off the target, this is your non-dominant eye.  When you close the non-dominant eye, your finger should stay on target.

(Featured Image Courtesy the DoD. U.S. Army Soldiers with Bravo Company, 1-327 Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s (CJTF-HOA) East African Response Force, engage targets in a day live-fire range at a range along the southern coast of the Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti, July 1, 2017. The purpose of the EARF is to rapidly provide tailorable packages of forces to protect American interests on the continent of Africa should any threats arise.(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

This article was originally published on the Loadout Room and written by Nick Irving