Open your eyes while shooting

by Sandy Keathley
Of all the things I teach people, both beginners and more experienced shooters, the one on which I get the most resistance is shooting with both eyes open. I know it’s not intuitive, and is sometimes difficult to learn, but the benefits far outweigh the learning curve.


  1. Twice the peripheral vision (important for defensive shooting)
  2. Clearer vision, as one eye left open compensates for the closed eye in a way that degrades a close focal point
  3. Tension is released in the face and neck, which transforms the entire psyche

Before trying this, you must know which is your dominant eye. For most people, it is the same as your dominant hand, but about 30% of shooters are cross-dominant (right-handed and left-eyed, or the reverse). To find out, look at an object (light switch or picture) on a wall at least 6 feet away.
Overlap your hands to make a triangle-shaped opening between the thumb webbings of the hands. Look at the object through that opening. Close one eye. Closing one will make the object disappear, while closing the other will not. Whichever eye allows you to continue to see the object through the opening is your dominant eye. If that is not the same as your dominant hand, you are cross-dominant. This is not a matter of learning; your brain is hard-wired this way. You can’t change it.

Some instructors believe that a person who is cross-dominant may have better results shooting a pistol with the non-dominant hand. I won’t debate that here. I am cross-dominant, and still shoot right-handed. However, I don’t dismiss that idea at all, and people should at least be open to it. There is certainly a compelling argument for shooting rifles from the weak side in that case.

Having come to grips (as it were) with your eye dominance, take aim with both eyes open. You should see two images of the gun. If not, your focal point is too close, or you are fighting with reality. There are no steps forward in this process until you see two images of the gun. Try again; I’ll wait.

Now that you see two images, which one do you use to aim? That’s why we did the eye test. Only one of the images will continue to point at the target when you close the non-dominant eye. That’s the one to use; learn to ignore the other. I am right-handed and left-eyed, so I aim over the right image and ignore the left one. Remember to focus hard on the front sight.

It takes practice to get used to this, but it is worth it. It is safe to say that all professional training organizations, whether local police, state troopers, or military, teach this concept. Spend some time on it, and you will see an improvement.

Author: Sandy Keathley

NRA-Certified Firearms Instructor