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Should You Shoot with Both Eyes Open? | How to Shotgun 2

Should You Shoot with Both Eyes Open? | How to Shotgun

how to shoot a shotgun Jun 22, 2023

Should you shoot with both eyes open, or is it okay to shoot with one eye closed? One of the most common questions we hear from people getting into shotgun shooting is whether or not it's ok to close an eye. Today we're diving into it. Let's go! In the first video of this how-to shotgun series, we talked about understanding eye dominance and why it is essential. Since you’ve watched that video, you know which eye is your dominant eye and to what degree. If for some silly reason, you haven't seen that video check it out (HERE) 

The Basics

  • Just like many other sports, shotgunning is a hand-eye coordination sport. If you can look at an object in the distance and point at it with both eyes open, you should be able to successfully shoot a shotgun.
  • However, there are many folks that still prefer to close an eye when shooting. We'll discuss why in just a minute.

  • Here's the scenario: Imagine you're playing baseball. You're at shortstop just waiting to snatch a line drive. The bat cracks and the ball is coming in hot. You're as ready as you'll ever be to make the catch but you're a stubborn shortstop, that believes you can focus on the ball better with one eye closed. The next thing you know you're waking up to your teammates all around because you got smacked in the head with a baseball. The doctor tells you that if you would have had both eyes open you would have been able to accurately judge the speed and angle of the ball. He then recommended you watch the most recent video on TFL! 
  • The truth is, when you're not shooting with both eyes open, you're cheating yourself out of a more successful experience. If you can get over the initial discomfort of it all, we promise that you'll shoot better overall.

Why Do People Close One Eye?

  • There are a couple of reasons people do this, and they're all coping mechanisms for other unmanaged issues. For example:

  • If you experience cross-dominance, (if you don't know what that is check out the first video in this series) you will be inclined to close an eye. For example, a shooter that is right-handed, but left-eye dominant, will fall into the 'comfort' of shooting right-handed and closing the left eye to force the eye over the gun to take over.

  • This is a pretty common occurrence. A rarer version of this would be someone that has a center shift, or center-ocular vision where you have a dominant eye, but it is not a stong dominance, again, we talked about this in detail in our last video.
  • Another reason someone would close an eye would be because their gun just doesn't fit well at all. If you're having to contort your body every which way to make it fit, you are going to struggle. We will talk more about gun fit in upcoming videos.
  • Perhaps the biggest reason folks are closing an eye is just because they've always shot that way. Many of us grew up with .22's, BB guns, rifles, bows, etc. all of which we aim. Making it ok to dial in your aim with one eye. But we don't aim shotguns -  we point them. This will be discussed further in a later video.
  • Maybe you didn't grow up shooting all of those prior mentioned things. Many folks don't receive proper instruction and incorrectly assume that all firearms are used the same way. 


Studies have shown that adults who lose sight in one eye have declines in their abilities to accurately track moving objects, to judge distances, and to perceive depth. That means they will have to learn how to consciously use one eye and their other senses to gather the information, which their two eyes once collected effortlessly. The science of it is pretty concrete: Once we lose an eye, our brain is only receiving half of the visual data that is available with two eyes. We end up seeing things much more two-dimensionally, causing our judgment of angle, speed, and distance to be crippled.


So What Am I Suppose To Do About It?

  • There are a couple of options for training yourself to shoot with both eyes open. First thing first: If you know your dominant eye, you should be shooting on that side, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. Your only option is to adjust your body accordingly because your eyes are your eyes. Fighting your eye dominance is a hard thing to do.
  • Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk shop. If you don't want to switch sides, it's a totally viable option. But if you opt to keep an eye closed, you may not be able to shoot to your full potential.
  • One option that we would not necessarily recommend is the wink method. This is where you begin with both eyes open, with your focus on the target. Keep them open through your whole mount and point. As soon as you're about to shoot, wink your eye opposite of the gun to pull the trigger. This allows you to maintain data from both eyes to judge distance and speed through your whole mount but allows you to turn it into an aim as soon as you're ready to engage the target. We would not recommend this method because it's hard to do consistently, timing is a huge factor, and you're not really getting to the root of the issue.
  • Another solution would be to occlude the vision of your dominant eye to force the eye over your gun to take over. This can be done by putting scotch tape over your shooting glasses, or by using a special dot system. This allows you to maintain peripheral vision while forcing your eye over the gun to take over as the primary mode of focus. We know a very successful national trap shooter that does this and performs very well.
  • Finally, train your body to shoot under your dominant eye. As we said, this may be awkward at first, but worth it in the long run.

Well, now you know! We'd highly advise you to shoot your shotgun with both eyes open. However you choose to get there, so be it! But we promise better results over time. Whether our targets in the field or our targets in life, we will only hit what we are focused on, so live the #targetfocusedlife

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