It's a commonly held assumption that by closing one eye a person can vastly improve the accuracy of his/her shot. Even inexperienced marksman close one eye in the hopes that this age old custom will somehow magically help their aim. But is this time-honored tradition really all that effective?
A new article in the magazine Country Life answers that question with a definitive "no." In fact, this article says the whole one-eye theory is poppycock. So, what should shooters do instead? This magazine simply suggests using both eyes every time a marksman is out on the shooting range.
One of the most vocal proponents of the two-eye strategy, Nick Penn, told Country Life that the shooter loses a great deal of depth perspective when he/she closes one eye. This does not improve a shooter's aim at all. In fact, this traditional one-eye technique makes a person's aim a whole lot worse.
Penn likened closing one eye to shutting off the computer in your brain. A shooter's brain simply cannot compute triangular vision accurately without both eyes wide open. Having both eyes open, he contends, helps a person judge the speed and distance of objects with far greater precision.
This idea of having both eyes open is actually gaining some popular appeal with professional marksmen all across the UK. Dylan Williams, who founded the Royal Berkshire Shooting School, said he agrees with the idea of keeping both eyes open when using a shotgun. He told reporters that most people start off using air guns with only one eye, and then think the same strategy will work with shotguns. Williams advises all his students to always use two eyes with a shotgun, especially when shooting grouse, clay pigeon, or pheasant.
Williams believes the larger professional industry built up around shooting is partly to blame for the diffusion of the false belief that one eye is better than two. Truly great shooting instructors, Williams said, are those that advise their students to use both of their eyes on the very first day of class. Williams said that marksmen can only shoot between 70-80 percent at best using one eye, but they have the potential to hit 100 percent of targets if they just keep both of their eyes opened.
Even Huw Stephens, who runs the Barbury Shooting School, had to admit that keeping both eyes open does increase a person's peripheral vision. Although Stephens maintains that for some people using the one eye technique may be beneficial, he told reporters he understand why more professional marksmen are converting to the two-eye technique.
The Country Life article celebrated Penn for his advocacy of the two-eye approach to shooting. Penn owns the Pennsport Shooting School in Curridge, Thatcham. The main strategy Penn spreads both at his school and on his website is to always open both eyes when shooting.
Country Life doesn't expect to change old-fashioned shooters' attitudes over night. Keeping one eye closed while shooting has been passed down from fathers to their sons for centuries, and for many there is an emotional dimension to this belief. The publishers of this article just want to open a few marksmen's minds to the idea that the one-eye technique may be holding them back from achieving their greatest potential.