How good is your sniper target

Keep both eyes open when shooting

Whenever possible, both eyes should remain open when shooting. This can significantly improve the shooting performance. Our shooting expert Werner Reb provides the reason for this.

In episode 1 (JAGD & NATUR 4/2012) we basically introduced the three pillars of a good meeting that are important from my shooting instructor experience, namely

1. the position-related "correct" posture,
2. the correct trigger CONTROL,
3. "Both eyes open" whenever possible,
and talked about details of the correct posture, which includes: the correct position of the legs, the placement of both elbows and a posture that is as tension-free as possible (do not “spread out”). Furthermore, it was conclusively worked out why the engraver is firstly not a contemporary and secondly the most ergonomically unfavorable solution to the “trigger” problem.

Episode 2 (JAGD & NATUR 5/2012) was primarily about the free guide arm when shooting hands-free in order to maintain the correct shooting hand position without cramping (“the skin under the nails shouldn't become discolored”), but above all about a very bad vice when shooting, namely the darned "in-the-shot-lifting-up-the-shooting-shoulder". This widespread cardinal error is easier for some people, but difficult to drive out for most. But sometimes laying on of hands helps. This clearly joking statement comes from the fact that this systemic error becomes even more evident when the trainer places his hand very lightly on the aspirant's shoulder to check it. It was precisely this test method that gave rise to the fama of my seminarians, which was admittedly made known with a twinkle in the eye, that I could even heal the grossest marksman's mistakes by the strength of my hands, that is, by the laying on of hands. It would be nice!

But now back to the topic: In this episode, taking into account the above three-way division, we come to the point «Both eyes open whenever possible»

Both eyes open Shooting has a lot more to do with psychological performance than outsiders think, who even like to belittle shooting as a physical and therefore “stupid” activity. But it is also exaggerated, and with good reason, that angry clients who are not aware of it are trying to say that such basic activities as holding and pulling a weapon "even a reasonably well-muscled primate" could be trained. But this is often just a well-considered reach into the psychological bag of tricks of the savvy trainer. In addition, shooting is only one thing, but a good hit is another. Therefore, both shooting and hitting, as far as physique and psyche are concerned, remain connected. Unless someone just wanted to "shoot". We, on the other hand, are too good to «shoot» ourselves. If you want that, you should give the "Ego Shooter" on the game console, but kindly keep your hands off firearms.

A strong physique, the best physical aptitude for a shooter, is important for good shooting - but not only, and that's a good thing. Tear-resistant nerves, a balanced inner constitution and a controlled emotional life count to the same extent. H. the solid psyche of the Sagittarius, one of the indispensable prerequisites for a good meeting. A positive, success-oriented and stable psyche in all situations is crucial for good shooting and hunting success. This is especially true in connection with the catchphrases "mucking", "gunfire" and "hunting fever". There are highly effective means of combating these fears, usually a good mixture of applied physics and simple psychology. But more about that later. First of all, things that are so everyday, but methodically and systematically important, such as determining the dominant eye.

The dominant eye

Even though shooting with both eyes open is not (yet) standard - hunters in particular are unaware of their educational gap and cramp their non-target eyes - the method has basically proven itself. With all hand weapons and all aiming devices, whether with open sights such as diopters as well as rear sight and front sight or with optical sights in the form of red dot sights or telescopic sights, even those with high magnifications. As an aside, it should be noted that using the spotting scope with two eyes also has advantages. For shooters who are not yet so familiar with the “shooting with both eyes open” method, it is an easy-to-use additional exercise to learn how to keep both eyes open over the long term.

The shields for the non-target eye, which have been introduced by sport shooters especially for the more static shooting disciplines and are technically reliable in terms of shooting, should be excluded from this consideration. Because although the view of the non-target eye is on the diaphragm, the use of a diaphragm for the non-target eye is still "shooting with both eyes open". Of course, it is about an ergonomic hybrid position whose discipline-related, technical advantages outweigh the system-related disadvantages. This primarily concerns the reduced safety due to the restricted field of view, which of course has to be put into perspective on controlled paths. It is different on open lanes, in dynamic shooting disciplines and on the hunt. But more about the general advantages of the “both eyes open” method in a moment.

In connection with the permanent order to keep both eyes open to shooters, the restriction “fundamentally” was used above. As is well known, this is defined in German as “not without exception”. But this should not be seen as a back door and an excuse for not having to keep both eyes open when shooting. Rather, “fundamentally” means the only exception to “both eyes open”. This is the case if, due to cross-dominance, i. H. Because of the non-dominant eye on the firing arm side, the non-target eye (i.e. the left one for right-handed shooters) is not kept open or not long enough when shooting. A non-“leading” eye does not represent a visual defect, but a mechanically subordinate eye can practically never be retrained to dominate. In the case of handgun shooters, the fact that the eyes are reversed can be resolved to some extent by turning the head and changing the target eye. But this does not work that way with rifle shooters - apart from the use of full-face, artful, although discriminatingly referred to as “cripple shafts”, apart from the use of shotgun shafts. For the rifle shooter, the inverted eye dominance remains a serious mechanical negative fact that cannot be trained. This is why the correct, but not dominant eye can only be used suboptimally as a target eye. The shooter always has to make a compromise, whether he stays on his side and accepts a weak target eye or whether he changes the side of the body, i.e. retrains from right-handed to left-handed (or vice versa) in order to get the advantage of the naturally dominant target eye .

What the hunter can learn from the boy scout

Every scout knows how to determine his lead or target eye, called the dominant eye. Namely through the so-called jump of the thumb. To do this, you direct a two-eyed look over the thumb of your outstretched hand at a target farther away and then close the eye on the firing arm, i.e. the right-hand shooter for right-handed shooters. If the thumb, which is still held still, «jumps» to the right, the right eye is the dominant lead or target eye. The cross check is that with the thumb still outstretched and the non-target eye closed, the thumb must stop in front of the target. There must be no jump of the thumb. Another possibility for checking: You approach a keyhole from a distance with your eyes open. The eye with which one finally looks through it is the dominant one. The side of the dominant eye may indicate a body-side straightening. Ideally, right-handed shooters are right eye dominant. Since there are exceptions, it must be possible to react to the “right” eye. In the course of time even on a change. A right-handed person can (later) prove to be a dominant left eye and a left-handed person to be a dominant right eye. It is not uncommon for shooters to change eye dominance for reasons of injury or aging. You then have to "change the page". This happens less often by changing the dominant side of the body to the (now) dominant side of the eye. This means that a former right-handed shooter will seldom turn into a left-handed shooter, because only a few people are “two-handed” and can use both body side abilities with equal intensity. Rather, the shooter will not be able to keep the wrong eye open when firing, i.e. the cross-dominant eye. And only now is the exception to the standing order “Both eyes open”. This means that the shooter is allowed to close the non-target eye. But this should look like that it is only closed shortly before the shot and immediately opened wide again in the shot. “Close the non-target eye before the shot” only works optimally if the dominance of the non-target eye is not too great because the visual images of both eyes must not overlap. If you have serious visual problems, you should consult your eye doctor. If he indulges in the hunter's trade at the same time, this is of some advantage.

Anyone who has patiently read along, but asks: "If I should shoot with both eyes open, why do I have to locate my guide eye?", The answer is straight away after a self-experiment. You strike a long gun with both eyes open Aim on, hold both eyes in the attack and then close the eye on the firing arm (for a right-handed attack, this is the right one). If the weapon «jumps» away from the target, our target eye is the right way round (on the right for right-handers). Conversely, our own experiment shows us, in that when the weak eye closes nothing at the stop, that it could actually be left open. But why do you even close your weak eye?

One reason is the tradition, the simple getting used to it without thinking, and another is the imagination that one would see better with the open eye because of the pinched weak eye. You really think that at first glance you can see a slight improvement in brightness and sharpness of the only image, that of the guide eye. But the effect is firstly only short-lasting and secondly if it is maintained for a longer period of time, it is nullified by disadvantages such as muscle tremors around the cramped eye and the general, often stress-causing uncertainty of the limited field of vision and safety. So it is better to keep the weak eye open.

Opposing opinions

As everywhere in life, there are opposing opinions. Here from the advocates of the weak eye closed. The first reason for this is that you can concentrate better on the sights and, at the same time, on the target with just one eye, the target eye. This is said to work better with only one eye, because then it is excluded that additional confusing information could get into the brain through the second eye. Pure theorists may nod off this argument, but practitioners do not see it that way. Nor should we go into the fallacy that one can “concentrate well” on sight, front sight and target at the same time. After all, the fewer and fewer opponents of the "Both eyes open" method admit, after a little self-conquest, that this results in a considerable improvement in the shooting performance. The well-known saying “You can see better with the second one” gets a new sound here.

By the way: The effort that is indispensable for sustaining the deadly sin of “pinching non-target eyes” can, depending on the individual, be quite high. So that training the right stroke is the far smarter way. One of my standard slogans “What you learn wrong can just as easily be learned right” also applies here. All the reasons for “having both eyes open” are self-explanatory, such as the ability to “see through the fire” and thus to avoid “complaining”. The increased safety due to the larger field of view in both eyes is also commendable. But more about that in the next episode.

Text and photos: Werner Reb