Keep Your Eyes Open

“It is not what you do, but what you stop doing that matters.”
-Nisargadatta Maharaj

Firearm instruction, unfortunately, seldom includes the importance of keeping your eyes open as the shot fires.

Calling the shot is vital for even a moderate amount of consistent skill. And you cannot call the shot if you blink when the shot fires. 

As usual, the remedy is a shift of attention.

Make sure your pistol is unloaded, then raise it to your shooting position. Focus all your attention on your aiming eye. Pause for a moment, to be aware of that feeling. Look at the front sight, and note that you are no longer aware of your eye. Bring your attention back to your eye, and know you are aware of your eye, only. Remember that feeling.

Repeat the above exercise before shooting at the range.

To cure blinking while shooting, forget about hitting the target.

Have a friend look at your shooting eye as you slowly fire a few shots into the berm. (Of course, this only works if your friend doesn’t blink when you shoot.) 

If your friend reports blinking, take a break and do the following:
Lower your pistol to a ready position. 
Become aware of your aiming eye.
Consciously keep your attention in your eye as you raise your pistol. 
Remind yourself that you don’t care where the shots go. 
Confirm your attention is in your eye and casually fire some shots. 

When training to not blink, don’t look at the front sight like you normally would. Do not to try to see anything in particular; the goal is to know what you see.

Rob Leatham does not blink.

Here are a couple clues to know you are not blinking. You will see the front sight return perfectly back to the rear notch, perhaps for the first time. If the lighting conditions are not too bright, you’ll see the muzzle flash. (Most cannot believe that when they see it for the first time.)

To practice not blinking on your own, aim into the berm (at nothing in particular), shift attention to your eye, forget about the sights, and calmly fire some shots. Can you tell if you are blinking? If you are not sure, you probably are. Repeat until you know your eyes are always open.

Shoot at various speeds until you know you never blink.

I’ve found it helps to open the eyes a little wider than normal, as if you noticed something interesting and wanted a better look. I see more precisely when opening the aiming eye just short of the “deer in the headlights” look. Experiment with that.

Start practice sessions with a slow fire accuracy drill. Shoot six shot groups at 25 yards, and work on calling each shot. End the session with the same drill. That’s good stuff. I did that for twenty years. 

As a non-blinker, a whole new shooting world opens up. Where that will take you is up to you. When your eyes are always open, there is no end to what you might see.

Each Monday, I’ll post a new topic in one of two categories. One will be on shooting, and the other will be on living, or: “how I learned to live from what I learned by competing.” 

Thanks for coming in.