When you try shooting a bow with both eyes open for the first time, you might find that it’s not as intuitive as shooting with one eye closed. But many archers do shoot this way, and say that the benefits are totally worth the initial effort. In this post, you’ll learn how to do that too.
To shoot a bow with both eyes open, you’ll want to use your dominant eye to sight the target and aim, ignoring the distractions from your non-dominant eye. Some archers squint the non-dominant eye to make this easier.
While this sounds easy enough, in this post, you’re going to learn a great process for becoming familiar and comfortable with this style of shooting, and fully understand the benefits and downsides of the style.
When shooting a bow with both eyes open, you can view the target with both of your eyes, but you only see it through the sight in one of your eyes. Generally, people have one dominant and one non-dominant eye, where the former basically take more control of the image they’re seeing.
When you shoot with both eyes open, you want to use your dominant eye to aim, with your non-dominant eye providing a better field of view, but not actively participating in the aiming process.
This will definitely be easier for people who have one eye which is much more dominant than the other, and who’re shooting at the same side.
Generally, people begin with archery by shooting with only one eye open, so let’s consider the best process for transitioning to the two-eyes style. I’d start by doing a little test, then practicing a step-by-step process. We’ll consider your eye dominance later in this post.
The test will help you figure out how intuitive shooting with both eyes is to you. Start by looking at some point on your target, bow down. Use both for your eyes and put all of your attention on this point. Raise your bow and draw it, keeping your full attention on the point. Try to intuitively let your brain handle the aiming with your attention on the point. Based on how comfortable this is to you, you’ll know what to expect out of the process.
The best process I’ve found for learning how to shoot with both eyes open is to slowly transition. You can do that either by squinting your subdominant eye or by quickly blinking with it. Over time, you’ll be able to open it more and more, making this method of aiming much more comfortable.
Remember that shooting with this method is beneficial, but definitely not for everybody. So if you feel this isn’t for you, it’s completely fine. In the next section, you’ll learn about the pros and cons of this method of aiming.
Shooting a bow with both eyes open is beneficial, but does come with downsides. Let’s consider the pros and cons.
First, in low light situations, it’s especially hard to shoot with one eye closed. Especially if you shoot with a peep sight, the amount of light that enters your eyes is limited, making it hard to see when it’s getting dark. If your non-dominant eye isn’t closed, you’ll be able to see much better, because the light is less limited with it.
Additionally, your field of view is much better with both eyes better, making you more aware of your surrounding. Shooting with this method also enables you to perceive 3D, making distance judging much easier.
When you close one of your eyes, you strain the other one much more than you would if you used both eyes. This increases the fatigue your experience, making it much less pleasant to practice.
With these advantages in mind, shooting with both eyes open has its downsides. It takes a lot of practice to shoot this way, ignoring your non-dominant eye perception so you’re able to aim. When being constantly distracted, it’s much harder to place your attention where it’s important.
Additionally, if your dominant eye is not dominant enough, you’ll generally have a hard time aiming with this method. Your eyes will fight for control over the image you see, resulting in a changing image. If you’re shooting on the side of your non-dominant eye, you generally won’t be able to aim with this method.
That’s why some archers actually recommend shooting with a partially open eye. Some feel this limits the downsides of shooting with this method, while you enjoy most of the benefits. I recommend you try it out if you feel distracted while shooting – this could be a great solution.
According to a Facebook poll in the “Archery Life” Facebook group, where a total of 221 people answered the question “how do you your eyes when shooting a bow”, most people actually shoot the bow with both eyes open. I purposefully blurred the names and images out to protect their privacy.
In the poll, around 60% of the archers said they shoot with both eyes open, while 40% shoot with one eye closed. This shows you that most archers want to enjoy the benefits of shooting with this method, even with the difficulties.
Eye dominance is very similar to hand dominance: one of your eyes usually takes control and is more essential for your focus. For most people, the dominant eye side is the same as the dominant hand, but that’s not always the case.
If you usually only shoot with your subdominant eye, closing your dominant eye, you’ll find it hard to focus when opening both eyes, as we’ve discussed before. So determining which of your eyes is dominant is really important.
The steps of finds which of your eyes is dominant:
Of course, there are a lot of other methods of finding your dominant eye, but I’ve found this method to be the easiest and most accurate.
We’ve considered whether you should shoot a bow with both eyes open, and how to go about it. While I think this method is beneficial, you should definitely consider the pros and cons when deciding whether to start using it.
The process itself does seem simple, but it can take a while to get used to. Take your time, learn to be comfortable with the method and you’ll have great results.
I hope this post was helpful to you in making a decision on your shooting style, and that the process was clear. Have fun shooting!
I'm an outdoors lover and sports enthusiast. I enjoy researching and writing about archery between my university semesters.