Article submitted by Mark Hatfield.
Eyes, Hands, and Handguns.
This could be about shooters with poor uncorrected eyesight, it’s not. It could be about shooters who are cross-eye dominant, it’s not, though it will touch on both of those concerns. If you shoot only for sport, competition, hunting, or fun, then you don’t need to read this either. But if you train for serious social purposes…
Fifty years or so ago a fellow named John created a cut in my right eyebrow. He used three rapid jabs with the sharp edged ring on his hand, a Boy Scout ring no less. Being not much of a fighter then, and hopefully somewhat better now, the fight ended then. He may have actually been trying to destroy my eye but that didn’t occur to me at the time. Anyway, later back at my home, standing at the bathroom sink looking at myself in the mirror, one half of my face was completely covered with blood. I started cleaning from the bottom up, I kept looking for the wound, a grievous one of course it had to be. I was surprised when I found it in the eyebrow.
Cuts to the face may bleed a lot, some ‘knife fighters’ even advocate a slash to the forehead to create bleeding to blind the opponent. While the wisdom or not of this move is not discussed here it is true that our eyesight is easily affected. My eyesight has many times been affected by my own sweat or chemicals in the air which made me tear, often burning tears. Smoke from smoke grenades sometimes was worse than tear gas. Common household cleaners used in a small room can be affect the eyes as well as the lungs. In years past, for reasons I never discovered, some heating systems could cause me to have serious tearing and burning of the eyes.
Never forget, there is also the old trick of throwing sand, bleach, lye, and other nasty things into eyes. Even soda or lemonade be a problem. Remember, the person who answers the door or approaches you ‘innocently’ holding a coffee cup or soft drink cup may not be so innocent as they appear. Think of how much even an eyelash on your eye is so disturbing.
While constantly wearing some form of eyeglasses, prescription or protective, does help a lot, that is not the point, the point here is…can you shoot with the other eye?
Most people who train shooting for defensive purposes, hopefully, will train to be able to use either hand. While one might prefer to shoot using both hands at the same time, the serious shooter needs to be able to use only one, either one, and should work seriously at this. BUT (And a big BUT this is) though you may practice to be able to use either hand, can you use either eye?
The hands and arms are very likely to be injured if you take incoming fire, after all, they are out there in front of your face and body but the eyes are also easily disturbed. You may train to be able to shoot with either hand equally or near equally well but do you always use the same eye? Aligning the gun to the eye and even just to the face can be very different than what you are so accustom to. You may get a big shock the first time you try it. Your performance will not be the same, you may find it difficult to align the gun with the target for ‘non-sighted’ fire let alone trying to align the sights. This might be an ‘eye opener’ that your skills are really less than you thought.
Try these drills, some slow fire and some acquiring the target and getting off a shot quickly.
Right hand, right eye.
Right hand, left eye.
Left hand, right eye.
Left hand, left eye.
Most shooters will quickly notice that the drills where the hand and eye do not ‘match’ are the most difficult. The good news is that improvement comes quickly. While such drills need not be done at every practice session, they should be done more than just ‘once in a while’.
For those of us who always wear prescription eyeglasses or contacts, sometimes TAKE THEM OFF, put on clear protective glasses and shoot with no correction for bad eyesight. Even sometimes do it in connection with the ‘hand/eye’ drills. (If you are at a public range or other people are shooting, face AWAY from other shooters and not down range while changing glasses)
At close contact, when being hit or grabbed, often one of the first things which happens is that the wearer of eyeglasses loses them, Can you shoot without yours? I should ask instead ‘Can you hit without yours?
Even doing a little bit of these drills can can cause significant improvement, even more important is learning exactly what your limitations are. Don’t wait for a gun fight to find out. Consider if you have to explain to a judge and jury why you shot at someone when you couldn’t see very well. It’s better to not just have the skills, but to be able to accurately explain that you knew just what you could and could not do.