A man in camouflage aiming down the sight of air rifles both eyes open

Generally, the first thing you want to do when you pick up air rifles or air pistols is to look down the sights with one eye and close the other one. Instinct, right?

Well apparently that’s where a lot of us might be going wrong… Country Life, the magazine, has warned of an “army of Cyclopses” who are missing their targets after refusing to open both their eyes.

A new wave of shooters is proving that two eyes are far more effective at hitting the targets, and claimed the technique would prove to be a revelation.

Stuck in the past

Experts have said that the one-eyed method traditionally comes from when people first pick up an air rifle and use one eye through the sight. Anyone who wanted to learn how to shoot would go out with their parents, friends, or nearest role model and pick up the same one-eyed tradition.

But one expert, Nick Penn, says the traditional method leaves guns “guessing” at where to aim, as depth and distance perception are compromised. “If you close an eye, you shut down the computer in your brain and lose your triangular vision,” he told Country Life.

The founder of Royal Berkshire Shooting School, Dylan Williams, completely agrees with Mr Penn, saying that two eyes are better than one where possible.

“Generations of young people going to CCF (Combined Cadet Force) and the like in school, being taught to use rifles, always then carry on to shoot with an eye shut.

“Now you have a much more structured industry. When people want to go shooting now, they want to shoot well because it’s very, very expensive. A good instructor within ten shots will say why are you shooting with an eye shut? It’s a revelation.”


However, Huw Stephens, the director of Barbury Shooting School noted that it was not possible for everyone to shoot better with both eyes open, with exceptions where a person shoots from the right shoulder with a dominant left eye.

He said that the major benefits of using both eyes are that your peripheral vision is obviously much better, your depth perception is a lot better, you can read distance much better and you’re much quicker to react as both of your eyes are open.

Whatever you are shooting, it’s essentially a hand-eye coordination sport, and all other hand-eye coordination sports are played with both eyes open.

Of course, if you are aiming with telescopic sights, there is the debate that you don’t need to keep both eyes open as the scope does the work for you. There are those who keep both of their eyes open when shooting with scopes, but it takes a lot of practice.

So, there we have it, the advice is to keep both your eyes open when you shoot! Do you agree with what the experts are saying? Let us know on our social media channels!



Photo courtesy of U.S. Army on Flickr, under Creative Commons