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Shooters Must Use Both Eyes

by Mark Duncan

Most of us know in some way that one of our eyes is stronger or more dominant then the other. It may be because you shelled out hundreds of dollars at the local eye doctor to hear that diagnosis, or it may just be something you know. Either way it's something that can make a difference if you enjoy shooting.
If you're unsure of which is your dominant eye, try this easy test. Focus on an object across the room. Make a circle with your thumb and finger and with your arm extended and both eyes open, center the object in the circle. Alternately close one eye and then the other. The master or dominant eye is the one for which the object remains centered.
This dominant eye is usually the reason you see novice shooters with one eye squinched closed. They're forcing their master eye to focus on the target. Unfortunately this method can do more harm then good.
Closing one eye while focusing with the other causes strain on the eyelid muscles in both eyes. This strain can actually weaken the focus of the master eye. The pupil of the eye that is open dilates involuntarily in order to gather more light. The strain of keeping one eye closed causes fatigue during long shooting practices.
Closing one eye to shoot can create other problems too. In a defense situation, such as law enforcement training, closing one eye greatly limits your peripheral vision. This limit can keep you from seeing the other bad guy approaching from your "blind" side.
Keeping one eye closed also alters depth perception and the judgment of distance when shooting a shotgun, which is crucial for shooting moving targets and calculating proper lead. Handgunners will find that they can actually shoot faster if they keep both eyes open.
Usually, but not always, your dominant eye is on the same side as your dominant hand. If you're right handed your right eye is the dominant eye.
If you discover that your dominant eye is opposite of your dominant hand, it poses more of a problem with focusing.
Rifle and shotgun shooters sometimes change sides. If you are one of those people that uses their dominant hand so much that you've forgotten you have another one, this may not work for you.
Handgun shooters can simply tilt the head to allow the dominant eye to focus on the sites.
You can always close the dominant eye thereby forcing the weak eye to work. The success of these methods will vary based on your vision.
One suggestion for successful shotgun shooting that will allow the shooter to keep both eyes open, is to place a strip of transparent tape across the lens of your shooting glasses on the side of the master eye. This is a method that was taught to me by Olympic Gold Medalist John Scatterwhite. I've used it and believe me, it works. With this method you still keep both eyes open, and the weaker eye is being trained to be more dominant.
You may need to play with these suggestions until you find the one that works for you. The main thing to remember is that in the end keeping both eyes open while shooting will benefit you in your performance.

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