When you’re pointing your duty weapon at a suspect and shout, “Police! Don’t move! Drop the weapon!” do you have:
A.) One eye open
B.) Both eyes open
C.) Both eyes closed
D.) Sometimes one eye open, sometimes both eyes open
Most firearms instructors will tell you the correct answer should be, “B. Both eyes open.”
I’m about to share with you something I’ve rarely shared before with any instructors or students.
In most cases when I shouted those words on the street, I closed one eye and placed my sights on a spot on the suspect where I intended to place my first round if the suspect posed a deadly threat.
Even in training, when the instructor said, “Keep both eyes open,” out of necessity I would close my left eye, aim, and fire.
I absolutely needed to do this to shoot accurately anytime I was not instinct shooting.
One Eye or Point Shoot
Part of my situation is I am stubbornly left eye dominant. I shoot right handed so all I ever had to do was close my left eye to hit what I was shooting at.
With the advent of the “Both eyes open in a gun fight” mantra, I attempted every trick, technique, and tactic to focus on my sights with both eyes.
When I use my sights with one eye closed, I’m a hole-in-a-hole shooter.
Unless I instinct (point) shoot, I miss balloons and bowling pins with both eyes open.
I’ll try to explain to you non-believers how that can be. After thousands of rounds of training, I can draw and hit what I’m shooting without the use of sights within reasonable distances.
When I want to use my sights, because of the size or distance from a potential suspect — for example, a medulla oblongata hit — looking at my sights with both eyes open is like trying to sight my weapon with kaleidoscope.
The eyes fight for control, causing the front sights to bounce back and forth.
No matter how many times I explain this to trainers, “For aimed shots I have to close one eye,” the answer has always been and indignant, “No you don’t!”
There is only one guy who ever caught me cheating who was OK with me closing one eye. It was a suspect, encountered while executing a no-knock warrant who I had pointed my weapon at while calling for his surrender. He paused for a moment after looking at the 357 on the end table next to him. He then looked back at me and submitted to the arrest.
While in handcuffs in the back seat of my squad, he later told me, “I knew you were going to shoot me when you closed one eye.”
I’m Not Calling for a Change
Please do not think I am calling for a change in firearms training. I believe the majority out there should train with both eyes open. Studies by Force Science show that both eyes will be open, during sudden assaults. It is the one thing I have preached as a firearms instructor I wished I could practice.
I am saying that for me, when I have to use my sights I have to close one eye. Here is my reason, or my excuse. You decide.
When I was about 12-years-old, I was putting air in my bike tire and I looked up and saw a bulge in my tire expanding right in front of my eyes. At that very moment, the bulge exploded and blinded me in both eyes.
I was rushed to the hospital and a doctor treated my injuries. As he did, I could see light but nothing else, and the doctor patched both eyes for a period of time that I do not remember.
I remember the pain, the darkness, and wondering every minute whether I would see again.
When the patches came off, I was thrilled to discover that, although my vision was blurry, I could see again. Eventually it corrected itself to 20/25.
However, I was left with a front-sight-focus fight that can only be resolved by closing one eye.
Have an Open Mind
I’m writing this to caution trainers to have an open mind about the closed eye for some individuals. Although my case is not the norm, I believe it might not be unique.
I’m not saying this for myself, but for all the other one-eyed-shooters who are perhaps suffering in silence. It took years for me to admit this, but now I’m at peace with it.
For any bad guys out there that think less of this retired copper after making this confession, I must caution you: I’m keeping an eye out for you...