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Want to Shoot Straight ? One Eye or Two

by Mathew Umstead

One or two? That is the question.

There are many ideologies and theories when it comes to proper fundamentals and being an effective shooter. When it comes to instructing I break it down into three categories: new shooters, novice, and advanced. Within these there are multiple levels before becoming proficient enough to advance to the next level, which takes time and dedication on both the shooter and instructor. I am going to talk about your eyes for a moment. One eye or two? That is the question. 

Developing Your Skills

In short, the answer is yes; there is no wrong answer. There is a lot more to it than just a simple yes. For me as an instructor, it depends on two underlying factors: how proficient you are as a shooter and what is your purpose for owning a firearm. Let’s side note here for a second. I am not using the idea of purpose as you need a justification to have a firearm. It is the same idea as to when I am looking at a new fishing rod. What will it be used for? Playing around in small lakes or ponds? Or big water where you need reliable quality equipment, practice, and develop your technique? The same goes for you and your firearm. Is it for range time primarily? or is it a tool you have to protect yourself and family or necessary part of your occupation? Once the purpose is identified, you can decide how you increase proficiency and accuracy.

Sight picture showing front sight focus. Image: Mathew Umstead

Instructors Point of View

As an instructor, I do not treat everyone the same. We all have different levels of experience and end goals. If you are a new shooter or primarily use your pistol for target shooting, I recommend to my students to focus on becoming a fundamentally sound shooter before even trying to shoot with both eyes open. For my more advanced students and ones who’s functions in life is to protect and serve, I work through basic shooting fundamentals and progress them to shooting with both eyes open to allow for faster target accusation and identification of their target and surroundings. 

In short yes, as long as you can effectively engage your target and safely manipulate your weapon, it truly doesn’t matter. Everyone and every situation are different. I base my instruction on individual wants and needs. I am a firm believer in having both eyes open; it allows for a wider viewing angle, speed in acquiring your target, identifying the threat, and your surroundings. However, do not try to advance your shooting until you have mastered the basics work on and keep working on the fundamentals of marksmanship.

About the Author:

Mathew Umstead is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran with 4 years active service as Military Police where he spent most of his time on a Special Reaction Team becoming proficient in special tactics and response. After his time with the Marine Corps, in 2007 he transitioned into law enforcement where he spent 8 years as a federal police officer. He now spends his days in Alaska as a lead firearms instructor teaching federal police officers, contractors, and military personnel on basic marksmanship and weapons tactics for various firearms ranging from 9mm pistol up to the .50 caliber machine gun. When not at work, he enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking with his family.

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