Many professional competitive archers shoot with both eyes open. Could bowhunters benefit from the same style? Photo Credit: BU

Should I Shoot with One or Both Eyes Open When Bowhunting?

  Jackie Holbrook   FeaturedBowhunting   March 24, 2022

Most bowhunters learn to shoot with one eye closed. They’re often taught to close their nondominant eye and use the other to aim through the peep sight and focus on the target. Because this is the way most archers learn, they just continue this practice in the field. And it works well for most bowhunters. However, many professional competitive archers shoot with both eyes open. If top archers are choosing to aim that way, could it be beneficial for bowhunters as well? The answer is yes, for many reasons. 


You Have a Wider Field of View 


Closing one eye cuts your field of vision in half. This isn’t much of an issue when you’re practicing with a target because you’re focused on a stationary bull’s-eye. However, when you’re out hunting, it’s beneficial to have a wider field of view. There’s often a lot going on when it comes down to the moment of truth. Aiming with both eyes open gives you a bigger sight picture. You’ll keep better track of the animal if it’s moving. 


You Can Acquire Targets Quicker 


Every second counts when bowhunting. Game animals rarely give you much time to take a shot. Closing one eye, even though it’s instinctive and happens quickly, can cost you precious seconds. This is particularly costly if you have to acquire your target again. Transitioning from both eyes open to only one can cause you to lose your target for a brief time. When you’re working with a complete field of view, you’ll keep the animal in your picture as you aim. 

You Can See Better in Low Light



Deer species and many other game animals are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dawn and dusk. That’s why many hunters get shot opportunities in low-light conditions. But shooting in low light is tough, and when you close one eye, you’re getting even less light. With both eyes open, you’ll have more light coming in, making it easier to aim. 


It Alleviates Eyestrain 


Eyes are used to working as a pair. Using a single eye causes that eye to do all the work of sending light and messages to your brain. This can cause eyestrain, which can create red and watery eyes and blurry vision. 

This is probably not a problem you’ll encounter in the field. Eyestrain usually occurs if you’re using one eye significantly more than the other. While hunting, you might aim just a couple of times per season, if you’re lucky. But eyestrain can still impact your practice. If you’re practicing a lot in the weeks leading up to hunting season and you notice your eye is experiencing strain, you might try shooting with both eyes open. 

Making the Switch 



If you feel comfortable with the way you’re shooting, there’s no need to change. Although there are benefits to shooting with both eyes open, ultimately, do what works best for you. You’ll shoot more accurately when you’re confident in your abilities. Making the switch takes time and a lot of practice. You should only switch if you have plenty of time leading up to hunting season.  

There are other factors to consider as well. Eye dominance can be an issue for some. The majority of people have a dominant eye, which usually corresponds to a dominant hand. If you’re right-handed, your right eye is probably dominant. But that’s not the case for everyone. If you’re right-handed and left-eye dominant, or vice versa, that’s called cross-dominance. When bowhunters are cross-dominant, they must make a choice. Some choose to use their dominant eye, which means they draw back with their nondominant hand. Others choose to use their dominant hand to draw and aim with their nondominant eye, but this can create problems of competing eye dominance when shooting with both eyes open. In this situation, you might need to make more adjustments to make both eyes open work. 

You can meet in the middle by half-opening the eye you normally close. This would give you a better sight picture and let in more light, while also letting the eye you typically aim with be the dominant eye in that situation. Sometimes even a little change can lead to improvement and success.  



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