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Old August 6, 2017, 12:45 PM   #1
OhioGuy
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Two-eyed shooting

So I've been given wildly conflicting advice for how best to shoot, usually in the context of self defense under stress.

Everyone seems to agree that the body's natural response is to (a) keep both eyes open during a stressful event and (b) remain focused on the threat. Some claim it's likely not even possible to force yourself to change this in such an encounter. Yet I still get differing advice. Several schools of thought seem to emerge here, and I'm curious what techniques others employ.

1. ONE EYE, FRONT SIGHT: the theory here is basically about retraining your body to focus intently on the front sight and nothing else, with the target blurred in the background, and the non-dominant eye closed so you have only ONE sight and ONE target, and can't become confused by false images that may throw off your aim.

2. TWO EYES, FRONT SIGHT: the theory here is "you need both eyes for situational awareness and probably can't force one closed anyhow, so focus intently on the front sight with both eyes, and with enough practice you'll quit noticing the phantom second target from your non-dominant eye. I took a class at a tactical outdoor center that advocated this like gospel.

3. TWO EYES, TARGET: the theory here is the same as above, only it extends to saying you probably can't force your focus away from the threat itself (and shouldn't), so keep your eyes on the target and learn to aim based on a flash sight picture. People who employ this seem to also be fans of highly visible front sights and/or Big Dot Sights, or red dot optics, or (sometimes) laser sights.

When target shooting, I always use #1 because I get the best results by far. When trying to keep both eyes open, though, I seem to do pretty well with #3 so long as the front sight is visible. I have night sights on one gun with an obnoxiously orange front sight that's quite easy to see, and Big Dot on an other that's also easy to see. I have never had an issue with seeing a phantom second front sight. But #2 is just a disaster for me. I end up confused and frequently have ended missing the target entirely because I'm aiming at something that isn't there.

Do I need to be retraining myself to focus on the sights with two eyes, or am I better off learning to shoot instinctively with a flash sight picture and eyes-on-target, and then use one-eyed target shooting techniques if/when the situation could possibly call for it.

Thoughts? Experience?
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Old August 6, 2017, 01:04 PM   #2
FITASC
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A lot will depend on YOUR eyes and how well you see, as well as your eye dominance.

Quote:
ONE EYE, FRONT SIGHT: the theory here is basically about retraining your body to focus intently on the front sight and nothing else, with the target blurred in the background, and the non-dominant eye closed so you have only ONE sight and ONE target, and can't become confused by false images that may throw off your aim.
As someone who has become more near-sighted as I age - I have to decide on A wear my distance vision and see the target and have the sights a blur, or B), use my regular eyesight and see the sights clearly and have the targets be visible but somewhat blurry (talking 7-10 yard stuff, not further) Tried with bi-focals; turned into the worst of both worlds......

As someone who shoots more shotgun than anything else, where your bead sights aren't needed as your focus MUST be on the target, I would tend to lean that way and develop a hold of sorts that allows you to almost "point and shoot" - again talking about SD distances, not long range target work. Last time tried that, and while I am sure everyone else here would kick my butt for score, I can keep the shots from various revolvers or semis in the 6" target black I use for practice - which should mean COM hits or close enough to dissuade any further attack. If you can't see your target, how can you hit it? Especially if it is moving.

YMMV
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Old August 6, 2017, 01:14 PM   #3
johnwilliamson062
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Quote:
TWO EYES, FRONT SIGHT
That is what I practice.

If you end up with
Quote:
TWO EYES, TARGET
in a stressfull situation practicing two eyes front sight helps at least keep everything pretty much lined up in a decent position. I've found when I practice without using the sights lots of things start to get very sloppy very fast.
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Old August 6, 2017, 02:37 PM   #4
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I would like to see the results from a side by side comparison of shooters of equal ability using both styles. Perhaps we can arrange a seance with Charlie Askins,Jim Cirillo and Bill Jordan to find out what they did.
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Old August 6, 2017, 03:50 PM   #5
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If you wear corrective lenses, you could do that yourself - I have done that a few times. Unfortunately, I just kinda suck no matter which way I go! But then I shoot 100 shotgun shells for every 9mm or 38 so I'm trying to get more practice in; that said, if someone is fairly proficient, maybe they could do just that and let us know how it works for them.................it would be interesting
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Old August 6, 2017, 04:45 PM   #6
Bartholomew Roberts
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Well, you have to use something that works with your eyes. For me, I train #2 and try to consciously see the front sight.
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Old August 6, 2017, 08:27 PM   #7
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The problem with closing one eye is that the eyes are sympathetic to one and other. When you close one eye, the vision in the other eye is disturbed.
This may not affect you at contact distance; then,again, maybe it will.
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Old August 7, 2017, 04:21 AM   #8
Brit
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In shooting a Glock 19 with TruGlo fiber optic sights, both eyes open. I see the sights, and the target, no problem.

Bullseye shooting, both eyes open also, but a piece of scotch tape on the left lens of my shooting glasses, has just the one eye being used!

Because it is un-natural to close one eye, it affects the open eye, a lot.
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Old August 7, 2017, 09:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Ohio Guy wrote:
Yet I still get differing advice.
Does anyone offering that advice have any well-controlled experiments, studies published in peer-reviewed journals or the like to back it up?

The militaries of the United States, Canada and Europe as well as some of the larger police forces in those areas have invested a great deal studying human reactions under stress, shooting under stress and the techniques that work best for the majority of people. These tests are generally published in peer-reviewed professional journals of the fields of psychology, sociology and anthropology. Older editions of these magazines are generally available for low to no cost on journals' websites.

Questions such as:

Quote:
Everyone seems to agree that the body's natural response is to (a) keep both eyes open during a stressful event and (b) remain focused on the threat. Some claim it's likely not even possible to force yourself to change this...
whether this is an innate response, whether it can be altered through training and what sort of training is effective in making the change will be authoritatively addressed in these sorts of publications.

I could tell you that you should train using the technique of, say, TWO EYES, FRONT SIGHT for all sorts of theoretical reasons (or all sorts of reasons that would make you want to enroll in my paid training class), but if the biology and clinical experience say that once the adrenaline hits no amount of training will shift you from actually being focused TWO EYES, TARGET (or whatever the biology really does), then what would be the point?

Learn about the science and then you will be in a position to adapt your training regime to what the science tells you.
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Old August 7, 2017, 11:19 AM   #10
Don Fischer
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I am not a good handgun shooter, it's rec. for me with mostly DA guns and cast loads. But out to about 40-50 yds I actually can hit now and then using sight's. I'm left eye dominate and shoot right handed, left eye closed. Get into my carry gun's and everything changes. I never ever shoot more than about 21 paces. Beyond about that range it might be hard to recognize an attack starting, at that range not much doubt about. That does not mean if something farther get's my attention I won't pay attention to it. That short range and my short barreled handgun and bad eye sight convinced me I had to learn to shoot both eye's open and point the gun. After a bit it actually does get easier to hit what your'shooting at. I have no idea about the front sight deal, have to try it some day. The situation of self defense I thing demands you don't aim the gun. To close to take the time to aim. And, as with myself, aiming a handgun with bad eyes is hard enough, with a short barrel gun, next to impossible. If you have time to aim well, the attack is likely to far off and you could be walking into trouble, with the law.

I'd thought about a 4" DA for carry but I'm an old guy and don't carry with 5 rds in the cylinder. A DA is also to heavy to carry around all the time and I mean all the time. If I'm awake, I'm armed. The DA simply to thick, to heavy, to long and I want a bit more fire power. So I carry a Shield 9m compact. The barrel is maybe an inch long and it has a single stack magazine, hide well for me. But it has crummy sight's. At least compared to my DA's, so sighting is difficult especially being right handed and left eye dominate. That is why I went to pointing rather than aiming. Aiming with that small gun I'd have trouble hitting a tank! Pointing, with some practice, got me through that. Your left eye dominate and right handed you need to make some kind of adjustment, the threat is to close for shooting 1/2" group's! I rally do need to look up the front sight method and see how that works. Just might be a whole better way for me. The fight will probably be over in mere seconds. Doesn't give a lot of time to get on target and actually hit it.
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Old August 7, 2017, 02:12 PM   #11
Mike38
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Quote:
FITASC wrote;
A lot will depend on YOUR eyes and how well you see, as well as your eye dominance.
Well said!

Best you can do OhioGuy, is try every variation imaginable and find what's best for you. What I do may not work for you. What you do may not work for me. I've got weird eyes and an even weirder brain to go with it. When I shoot with both eyes open, I see two targets. One would think the clearer of the two would be the actual target, but it's not. I suppose if I trained myself at which target was the actual one, I'd do fine. Then to top it off, I have to tip my head back to look through the bottom of my bi-focals. Okay for self defense use, but not okay for serious competitive target shooting. For that I wear clip on flip up reading glasses over the top of my bi-focals. I put matte finish / semi transparent tape on the lens of my non aiming eye, and shoot both eyes open. I do bi monthly train with my carry pistol, and don't use the clip on readers or tape to simulate self defense. I close my left eye for that.
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Old August 7, 2017, 02:23 PM   #12
SIGSHR
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45 years of bullseye shooting and I automatically close the non shooting eye.
Probably all goes back to training-which is often meant to overcome natural/instinctive reactions.
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Old August 7, 2017, 05:42 PM   #13
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
I could tell you that you should train using the technique of, say, TWO EYES, FRONT SIGHT for all sorts of theoretical reasons...but if the biology and clinical experience say that once the adrenaline hits no amount of training will shift you from actually being focused TWO EYES, TARGET (or whatever the biology really does), then what would be the point?
The quickest way to tell your pistol is properly indexed is to look at the sights. If you train yourself to look at the sights (i.e. verify your weapon is properly indexed each time you present it), eventually I bet muscle memory would get you pretty close to a proper index even if you suddenly focused on the target or otherwise were unable to see your sights.
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Old August 7, 2017, 06:34 PM   #14
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I don't want my target blurry. I focus on what I want to hit and shoot instinctively like traditional archery. At least for close range work out to 12 yards or so.
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Old August 8, 2017, 09:36 PM   #15
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there is narrow focus where you see more of the sight and less of what is going on around you and then there is passive sighting where you are reasonably aware of your front sight and its general position within the rear sight but you are highly aware of "the target" and what is happening around you. I have always trained ( both eyes open) with a passive type method but I say that as someone who has never been concerned with absolute marksmanship. I am not trying to shoot a 3 inch square.

When training up close, I don't traditionally aim.. I point shoot. I practice just so that I know I can do it but I am a proponent of always using the sights if the situation reasonably allows.
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Old August 8, 2017, 10:06 PM   #16
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I practiced it and am pretty good at it but regressed to one eye with scope.
Shooting by instinct or point shooting both eyes is necessary. I've never tried to point shoo with one eye open.
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Old August 9, 2017, 09:10 AM   #17
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I always shoot with both eyes open and have trued both methods: focus on the target or the front sight. I've found that when I focus on the target, followup shots are much faster. When focusing on the front sight, I really have to slow things down and there isn't a difference in accuracy for the most part. The exception is rifles with tiny iron sights like my older single shot .22's, I am better with those when I focus on the front sight.
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Old August 10, 2017, 05:37 PM   #18
FITASC
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Today I tried both - looking over my scrip to see the sights and have the target (7 yards) visible but somewhat blurry and looking through my distance scrip to see the target clearly and have the sights somewhat blurry. Some of it depended on each gun's sight AND the target color. Starting off with a clean white background with a simple 6" circle traced, ALL sights, plain and colored had much better results than when I used those 6" black Shoot-n-C types. This was done with 3 revolvers - 1-7/8 J frame, 2.5" K and a 4" K - SA and DA. SA won over DA where possible, front sight focus was just a tad better than target focus - BUT that was at 7 yards. Had it been 10, 15, or more, I am not so sure. Part of it may be my years of clay target shooting where one puts the focus on the target, NOT the sight.

In the heat we have here, shooting indoors is better than out, so any excuse to practice more pistol is a good thing...

Next time will be the 9mm semis.....
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Old August 10, 2017, 08:26 PM   #19
OhioGuy
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Quote:
.I've found that when I focus on the target, followup shots are much faster. When focusing on the front sight, I really have to slow things down and there isn't a difference in accuracy for the most part
I've had the same experience. Slow fire is far more accurate when focused on front sight, but rapid fire is the same or better when focused on the target. I've really never tried rapid firing beyond 10 yards. Usually my spread still at least covers a full sized torso target. Not exactly ninja accurate, but still lands where it counts I guess.
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Old August 12, 2017, 09:38 PM   #20
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Training

If I misremember correctly, the wisdom that I was taught was that in a stress situation, we revert to how we were trained. That assumes, of course, that we indeed trained. This includes frequent practice, especially in the beginning, with somebody there to correct us. After sufficient repetition, which probably varies by individual, we need to continue practice at regular intervals in order to maintain what we've learned.

It probably matters less whether you use one technique or another than if you actually practice the technique that you learned and stick with it.
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Old August 13, 2017, 06:45 AM   #21
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Navy Seal Shooting?

So I've been looking at all kinds of stuff online, and naturally it all disagrees with itself (which is weird, because if it's on the Internet, it's automatically true! So many different absolute truths out there...crazy...)

One thing I've found is an ex-Navy Seal named Chris Sajnog who wrote a book and huge series of videos called "How to Shoot Like a Navy Seal." I've only breezed through his videos, but it seems his entire practice is about overriding natural responses through deliberate, intensive retraining of your brain to focus INTENTLY (he loves that word) on the front sight, so that eventually your brain no longer regards the ghosted images seen by the non-dominant eye. I'm not about to question the wisdom of Navy Seals nor their shooting accuracy.

Is anyone familiar with him or his book, or his training school?

But then I find videos of guys who are ringing steel at 75 yards using guns with no sights on them at all.

So I've been practicing and experimenting, which my first instructor said never to do because I'll confuse myself and lose my skill. Anyways, the effectiveness of various techniques seems to vary with distance. At super short distances, just aiming the gun somewhere in the vicinity of a target is sufficient. In fact under 5' the advice is to not extend the gun all the way because you risk having it knocked from your hands. Out to about 25' I seem to have little difficulty picking up the front sight when focusing on the target with both eyes--the front sight is blurry but still clear enough to see where it's pointed, and I can align it reasonably well between the rear sights. My second gun has XS Big Dot on it and I find that much easier to align with this method--and I think that's what it's designed for.

Beyond that distance, there's this weird middle zone where I seem to focus at some nebulous area that's really neither the front sight nor the target, but it allows me to see both well enough to still make a reasonably accurate shot. Of course my instinct is to fall back on one-eyed shooting, which becomes far more accurate. But I've also spent a year practicing that exclusively.

One thing I've learned is that focusing on the front sight with both eyes looks to require the most retraining for me. Everything gets wonky and I can easily miss the entire cardboard target. Perhaps the Navy Seal's method really is the best, but if I'm able to shoot well with other methods, is there a point to investing the time required to retrain my brain to use his method?

One thing I've decided is that I need to be able to shoot with both eyes open, regardless of method. I've been startled and surprised often enough to know that my focus automatically locks onto whatever may be a threat, and I don't want to lose half my field of view by forcing one eye closed.
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Old August 14, 2017, 01:06 AM   #22
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Quote:
One thing I've learned is that focusing on the front sight with both eyes looks to require the most retraining for me
That may be because keeping both eyes open does not mean that you try to look at the front sight with both eyes. You use your dominant eye only. Keeping the other eye open does not produce the strain that closing one does.
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Old August 14, 2017, 04:49 AM   #23
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I think I once read where Bill Jordan said words to the effect that if you aim you lose. How come a base ball pitcher can throw strikes at way more than self defence distance?
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Old August 17, 2017, 06:17 PM   #24
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Man that's pretty technical stuff. I just take some Folger's coffee cans and coke cans out in the desert and pepper them. About 30 feet for coffee cans (size of a head / yes headshots you can't wear armor on your face), draw and rip one off fast as I can soon as the gun is pointed the right direction. No sighting no nothing just crack it off. Takes a while to get used to but straight up a couple boxes and you're on it. Less time from first twitch by either party to round on target. Becomes an extension of my hand. Where you look is where you hit.

Works for me anyway may be no good for anyone else
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