By B.B. Pelletier

Since you sight a gun with your eyes, let’s talk about them.

Binocular vision – a blessing and a curse!
Binocular vision (both eyes looking at the same thing with some separation between them) gives humans their ability to judge distance. We can train this talent and actually improve it a lot, but it’s the skill that allows us to operate cars and catch a thrown ball.

When we shoot, though, having two eyes can be difficult. Most untrained shooters, and more than a few who should know better, instinctively close one eye to sight their gun. It seems like the thing to do, until you receive advanced marksmanship training. Then, you’ll be taught to keep both eyes open when you shoot.

Sight with your dominant eye
Your dominant eye is the one you instinctively use for sighting, and you are blessed if it’s on the same side of your body as your dominant hand (right-handers sighting with their right eye).

I wrote today’s posting because I read a report of a pistol shooter who was getting lousy groups because he couldn’t remember which eye to close. The answer is – neither! Learn to trust your dominant eye and leave both eyes open if you can. When the person I read about figured that out, his groups shrank to one-fifth their original size.

Which eye is dominant?
To discover your dominant eye, point your finger at a distant object and alternately cover each eye with your other hand. The dominant eye is the one that still sees the finger pointing at the distant object when the other eye is covered. Your non-dominant eye will see your finger pointing to one side of the distant object when you cover your dominant eye.

Closing one eye while sighting uses voluntary muscles (to close your eyelid), which will tire you during a long shooting session. That’s one reason target shooters are trained to keep both eyes open.

I received a recent comment asking if I was going to post any tips about accurate handgun shooting. Well, here it comes!


Shooting glasses make you look like Robocop
but shoot like Annie Oakley!

Shooting glasses to the rescue!
Special shooting glasses, like the pair pictured above, shield the non-sighting eye so it receives light through a translucent guard but cannot focus on anything. This strengthens the eye that does focus on the target and sights. If you don’t have the kind of shooting glasses shown above, simply use plain safety-type shooting glasses with a card taped over the lens in front of the non-sighting eye. If you keep both eyes open, you will probably see the target much sharper than before.

You should keep both eyes open even when using a scope for the same reason. More light strengthens the sighting eye. Only with the other eye open to see, it does get confusing! It’s something I still have to think about after many decades of shooting, so the strangeness probably never goes away completely

Even if you continue to close one eye, you’ll still be able to hit the target. But the technique of keeping both eyes open is valid. Try it and see if it helps your score.