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Old February 22, 2018, 12:19 PM   #1
KLCane
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How do you train yourself to not close the non-dominant eye when aiming while shooting?

I am trying to keep both eyes open while aiming and shooting, but I can't seem to focus well on the target using the sights.

Any tricks or suggestions or is it simply just a matter of practice?

Is there even anything wrong with aiming with one eye?

Thanks.
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Old February 22, 2018, 03:15 PM   #2
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KLCane
I am trying to keep both eyes open while aiming and shooting, but I can't seem to focus well on the target using the sights....
First, welcome to TFL.

Second, I suggest not focusing on the target. Standard doctrine, the way I and those I shoot with have done it for years, and the way our group of instructors teach it, is to focus on the front sight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KLCane
....Is there even anything wrong with aiming with one eye?...
Well you actually will be aiming with one eye, your dominant eye, even if you have both eyes open. We recently discussed the reasons for, and advantages of, shooting with both eyes open in this thread.

And there's really no trick to it, although it can take practice. Assuming that you've correctly identified your dominant eye, just assume that you dominant eye is aligned with the sights.

That said, some people have weak dominance or shifting dominance that can make things more difficult. And sometimes the help of a good instructor can be useful.

I gather from some of your posts that you're new to shooting. Perhaps you'd find the following helpful. The basic principles I discuss below apply to both handguns and rifles.
  1. The first principle of accurate shooting is trigger control: a smooth press straight back on the trigger with only the trigger finger moving. Maintain your focus on the front sight (or the reticle if using a scope) as you press the trigger, increasing pressure on the trigger until the shot breaks. Don't try to predict exactly when the gun will go off nor try to cause the shot to break at a particular moment. This is what Jeff Cooper called the "surprise break."

  2. One wants to place his finger on the trigger in a manner that facilitates that. Usually, the best place for the finger to contact the trigger will be the middle of the portion of the finger between the first knuckle and the fingertip, and that part of the finger should be perpendicular to the direction in which the trigger moves.

    1. With some triggers, e. g., heavy double action triggers with a long travel, that placement might not provide enough leverage to work the trigger smoothly. In such cases, the trigger may be placed at the first joint.

    2. In either case, the trigger finger needs to be curved away from the gun sufficiently to allow it to press the trigger straight back without the trigger finger binding or applying lateral pressure to the gun. If one has to reach too far to get his finger properly on the trigger (or turn the gun to the point that the axis of the barrel is significantly misaligned with the forearm), the gun is too big. (For example, I have a short trigger reach and can't properly shoot some handguns, like N frame Smith & Wesson revolvers double action.)

  3. By keeping focus on the front sight (or reticle) and increasing pressure on the trigger until the gun essentially shoots itself, you don’t anticipate the shot breaking. But if you try to make the shot break at that one instant in time when everything seem steady and aligned, you usually wind up jerking the trigger.

  4. Of course the gun will wobble a bit on the target. It is just not possible to hold the gun absolutely steady. Because you are alive, there will always be a slight movement caused by all the tiny movement associated with being alive: your heart beating; tiny muscular movements necessary to maintain your balance, etc. Try not to worry about the wobble and don’t worry about trying to keep the sight aligned on a single point. Just let the front sight be somewhere in a small, imaginary box in the center of the target. And of course, properly using some form of rest will also help minimize wobble.

  5. In our teaching we avoid using the words "squeeze" or "pull" to describe the actuation of the trigger. We prefer to refer to "pressing" the trigger. The word "press" seems to better describe the process of smoothly pressing the trigger straight back, with only the trigger finger moving, to a surprise break.

  6. You'll want to be able to perform the fundamentals reflexively, on demand without conscious thought. You do that by practicing them slowly to develop smoothness. Then smooth becomes fast.

    1. Again, remember that practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

    2. Practice also makes permanent. If you keep practicing doing something poorly, you will become an expert at doing it poorly.

  7. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of the gun firing "by surprise." They feel that when using the gun for practical applications, e. g., hunting or self defense, they need to be able to make the gun fire right now. But if you try to make the gun fire right now, you will almost certainly jerk the trigger thus jerking the gun off target and missing your shot. That's where the "compressed surprise break" comes in.

    1. As you practice (perfectly) and develop the facility to reflexively (without conscious thought) apply a smooth, continuously increasing pressure to the trigger the time interval between beginning to press and the shot breaking gets progressively shorter until it become indistinguishable from being instantaneous. In other words, that period of uncertainty during which the shot might break, but you don't know exactly when, becomes vanishingly short. And that is the compressed surprise break.

    2. Here's an interesting video in which Jeff Cooper explains the compressed surprise break. While he is demonstrating with a handgun, the same principles apply with a rifle.

  8. It may help to understand the way humans learn a physical skill.

    1. In learning a physical skill, we all go through a four step process:

      1. unconscious incompetence, we can't do something and we don't even know how to do it;

      2. conscious incompetence, we can't physically do something even though we know in our mind how to do it;

      3. conscious competence, we know how to do something but can only do it right if we concentrate on doing it properly; and

      4. unconscious competence, at this final stage we know how to do something and can do it reflexively (as second nature) on demand without having to think about it.

    2. To get to the third stage, you need to think through the physical task consciously in order to do it perfectly. You need to start slow; one must walk before he can run. The key here is going slow so that you can perform each repetition properly and smoothly. Don't try to be fast. Try to be smooth. Now here's the kicker: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. You are trying to program your body to perform each of the components of the task properly and efficiently. As the programing takes, you get smoother; and as you get smoother you get more efficient and more sure, and therefore, faster.

    3. I have in fact seen this over and over, both in the classes I've been in and with students that I've helped train. Start slow, consciously doing the physical act smoothly. You start to get smooth, and as you get smooth your pace will start to pick up. And about now, you will have reached the stage of conscious competence. You can do something properly and well as long as you think about it.

    4. To go from conscious competence to the final stage, unconscious competence, is usually thought to take around 5,000 good repetitions. The good news is that dry practice will count. The bad news is that poor repetitions don't count and can set you back. You need to work at this to get good.

    5. If one has reached the stage of unconscious competence as far as trigger control is concerned, he will be able to consistently execute a proper, controlled trigger press quickly and without conscious thought. Of course one needs to practice regularly and properly to maintain proficiency, but it's easier to maintain it once achieved than it was to first achieve it.
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Old February 22, 2018, 03:25 PM   #3
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For decades we taught (all the major schools did) closing or squinting the non dominant eye. It DOES give a better sight picture. Thats why bullseye shooters cover it with a patch or tape the lens of their shooting glasses.

In defensive pistolcraft the trend has been to keep both eyes open to enhance situational awareness, but also because we understand human reaction to high threat situations better these days.

Under a startle response the natural tendency is to open both eyes wide. Think about what happens if someone jumps out and scares you. This “eyelid lift” is hard wired into the hind brain and is natural.

Learning to shoot defensively in a manner that contradicts what your natural body alarm reaction is, does not make sense.

So, for strictly target shooting fun...close the non dominant eye. For serious social work, both eyes open is a better way to go
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Old February 22, 2018, 03:51 PM   #4
KLCane
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Thanks guys. Both very helpful.

I have a couple of guys that have been working with me (including a retired LEO who taught) and answering questions, but this board is great for different perspectives.

I am in South Florida, so everything I do is at the range and there are no outdoor ranges in my immediate vicinity.

Anyhow, thanks for the discussion. It is very helpful.
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Old February 22, 2018, 05:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharkbite View Post
....So, for strictly target shooting fun...close the non dominant eye. For serious social work, both eyes open is a better way to go
Might I also suggest you practice EXTENSIVELY with both eyes open. LOTS of dry fire. Focus both on target and on front sight. Takes some time to get accustomed to the double image on one or the other.

You learn through dry fire and confirm with live fire. It's cheaper, too. Ten or fifteen minutes a day, every day will pay enormous benefits.

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Old February 22, 2018, 06:23 PM   #6
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippy
...Focus both on target and on front sight.....
Physiologically it can't be done. The eye can focus on only one plane (distance) at a time.
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Old February 22, 2018, 07:53 PM   #7
DukeConnor
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This may not work for you but it worked for me. No how much i tried i had trouble shooting with both eyes open. A experienced shooter at the range suggested i rub chapstick on my left lense. I gradually used less and less. It took a couple of trips but i can now shoot with both eyes open.

YMMV
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Old February 22, 2018, 08:18 PM   #8
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I keep telling myself eyes open, and I make it a part of my routine !!!
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Old February 23, 2018, 07:24 AM   #9
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Get an air pistol and practice it out. Then you also get to practice sight picture, trigger control, and follow through.

An airsoft pistol might also be an option if an air pistol is impractical for your circumstances.
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Old February 23, 2018, 08:39 AM   #10
Skippy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin View Post
Physiologically it can't be done. The eye can focus on only one plane (distance) at a time.
I guess I wasn't clear. I didn't mean at the same time. I meant practicing on the front sight sometimes, the target other times. Learn to switch quickly between the two. In a defensive gun use, my guess is I'll be focused on my target first.

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Last edited by Skippy; February 23, 2018 at 01:41 PM.
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Old February 23, 2018, 08:51 AM   #11
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This might help:
http://www.gabewhitetraining.com/articles/vision/

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Old February 23, 2018, 07:34 PM   #12
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The Marines taught me to shoot with only my dominant eye open so it was hard for me to learn how to shoot with both eyes open and focused on the target (not the sights). When you shoot like this, the front sights appear as if they were two. I've found that if I position the left mirror image of the sight on the target, I can it hit almost as well as if I was keeping my left eye closed. I'm right eye dominant. This is the only "trick" I know.
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Old February 23, 2018, 09:31 PM   #13
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Real estate agents will tell you about the desirability of real estate its, location, location, location. Shooting is, practice, practice, practice, there is no easy or magic trick.
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Old February 28, 2018, 11:48 AM   #14
KLCane
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I am not sure exactly why yet, but I have been shooting with both eyes and I am more accurate. It still seems a bit blurry at times, but it is improving. Practice is huge.
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Old February 28, 2018, 11:58 AM   #15
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I'm also a 1 eye guy.
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Old February 28, 2018, 03:25 PM   #16
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"...focus well on the target using the sights..." You don't. You should focus on the front sight whether you use one or both eyes. However, shooting with both open is done primarily by practice and concentration.
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Old February 28, 2018, 06:35 PM   #17
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Quote:
How do you train yourself to not close the non-dominant eye when aiming while shooting?
I don't. Learned to shoot with just one eye nearly 50 years ago, it works for me, and I'm too old to bother trying to learn something different, even if some people think its superior.

Both eyes open might be superior, but if you can't do it, it doesn't mean much, and if you hit your target, does it really matter??
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Old February 28, 2018, 06:35 PM   #18
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Dry firing is your friend.
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Old February 28, 2018, 08:31 PM   #19
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First, focus on the front sight. Never look at or focus on the rear sight.

I use to close the other eye when I was young, but what I did to avoid doing that when shooting was I would keep the left eye shut, line up the sights, then open my left eye and hold the gun just like I was. I would switch focus from my right eye, where the sights were aligned, to my left, where I was looking at the gun in a sort of isometric view.

Idk if others can do that, switch focus from the dominant to non dominant eye, but I can and maybe they can explain it better.

I will still on occasion, if I'm having difficulty seeing the front sight or the target, or some other issue aiming, close the left eye to help myself out in getting the proper sight picture, but once I do that, I will open the left eye again.
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Old February 28, 2018, 08:55 PM   #20
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Close the non dominant eye and focus on front sight w dominant eye. Slowly and very slightly open tbe non dominant eye while maintaining the focus. Once you maintain focus with your non dominant eye slightly open, continue to slowly and very gradually open the non dominant eye.
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Old March 2, 2018, 10:26 PM   #21
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I tried to shoot with both eyes open. It was an eyeopener (sorry for the pun).
I was able to place my shots in decent groupings but stopped, for the moment,
and went back to one eye aiming. Felt like my eyes were going cross eyed.
I fully intend to keep trying using both eyes. My take on this is like using my weak hand to shoot vs. my strong hand.
Good luck on this one.
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Old March 3, 2018, 05:45 AM   #22
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just shoot...your eyes will compensate
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Old March 4, 2018, 11:41 PM   #23
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Darn it! I guess I'm just not combat tactical enough. I don't even try to keep both eyes open. Oh, what will become of me
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Old March 5, 2018, 01:06 AM   #24
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Another thing I'd add to what's been said.

Lay off the caffeine it will affect your nerves.

Additionally try exhaling and holding before taking your shot.
You'd be surprised how much breathing can throw your shots off.

Don't hold your breath for too long though or it will actually make things worse.
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Old March 5, 2018, 05:57 AM   #25
JJ45
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I am x eyed dominant (left eyed, right handed)...I never knew I had a problem shooting with both eyes open until I was told so...

As was said-front sight focus...on some handguns I have to drift the rear sight to the right, but guys with normal dominance also adjust sights. Again, I would advise to just shoot the way it feels most natural and see how that works out.
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