Woman Shooting Gun

How to shoot with both eyes open

One of the more challenging things about learning to shoot for me was learning to shoot with both eyes open. This is a skill that you can learn, and one that is important if you carry a firearm for self-protection. Just like training to shoot one handed, learning to shoot with both eyes open will serve you well in the event you ever need to use your firearm while under duress.

Learning to shoot with both eyes open takes some time, patience and practice. Here is the approach I used:

  1. Bring your attention to an object 15-20 feet away from you – your “target” or sight picture.
  2. Hold a pen or pencil out at arms length, then focus on the tip. This is the “stand in” for your front sight.
  3. Start first by focusing on the pen tip with one eye, then the other – notice how your sight picture changes based on your dominant or non-dominant eye.
  4. Now open both eyes, still focusing on that pen tip. Note your sight picture.
  5. Rinse and repeat.

You’ll find that after some time, you’re able to quickly acquire the sight picture. Every time you go to the range, take your time and practice shooting with both eyes open. You may need to first focus with one eye, then open both eyes, focus and take the shot. In my experience, my accuracy improved greatly with my “both eyes open” shots than my one-eye open shots, and I found that the more I shot with both eyes open the easier it became.

More from the experts

One of the best people in this field is former Navy Seal Chris Sajnog. He has lots of great videos and books to help you improve your shooting skills. His video below, Eye Dominance and How to Shoot with Both Eyes Open, shows exactly what you should expect to see as you learn to shoot this way:

If you are training primarily for self-defense, learning to shoot with both eyes open is just one more skill you should learn. Do you shoot with both eyes open? Why or why not? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

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3 tips to improve your situational awareness

As I noted in my earlier post Do you have the mindset for concealed carry?, I’m really focusing on improving my situational awareness – or in laymen’s terms, simply paying attention to what’s going on around you.

This is a constant challenge for me as I’m not hardwired to think this way but I’ve realized, especially as I’ve been carrying a handgun, t
hat I need to improve my situational awareness.

Woman Walking Dog

Here are  3 tips to improve situational awareness that I’m starting to incorporate in my daily life.

  1. Head Up. This is probably the most important tool in the situational awareness arsenal. Keep your head up. That means not walking and texting or looking at my phone, or fiddling in my purse. It means head up and looking at what’s around me. Not only is this key in improving situational awareness, but it also makes me look like a less tempting target, because my shoulders are back and I exude more confidence.
  2. Note people and exits. When you enter a building or a room, such as a shop or a restaurant, note immediately the location of key people (cashier, manager, patrons, etc) and exits. If there were an emergency you’d want to know how to get out quickly.
  3. Use all your senses. This isn’t just about visual awareness, your hearing is just as important. I’m always surprised when I see women jogging alone with their earbuds in. You will never hear someone approaching you from behind, or a car approaching the intersection. My family and I were in a shopping mall recently when an angry protest broke out on the second floor. We only realized it because we heard the chants and shouting. Rather than walk toward the sound as many others did we promptly headed toward the closest exit and to our car.

Perhaps the most important tip is to practice. Every day. I have to remind myself when in “transition” times such as walking from my office to the car, or leaving the house, to keep my head up and observe my environment. I would love to know your tips for improving situational awareness too – please comment below.

Grip Tip to Improve Shooting Accuracy

Grip tip to improve shooting accuracy

Just a quick tip today on your grip to improve your shooting accuracy. I learned this trick from one of the amazing instructors at The Site Firearms Training Center in Mount Carroll, IL and even though it seems small, it’s really improved my accuracy.

Would love to hear your tips on how to improve accuracy in the comments below!

vertx-bag-loaded

It’s in the bag – Vertx A-Range Bag Review

We go to the range to shoot as a family, and to keep things neat and organized we went in search of the BEST range bag for the needs of either a single shooter or a small family.  It took awhile, but we found the most versatile solution in the Vertx A-Range bag.

Vertx A-Range bag
The Vertx A-Range bag
Vertx A-Range bag
Vertx A-Range bag fully loaded

While big enough to hold everything the 3 of us need at the range (it’s 10″x12″x19″), it’s not so huge that it’s messy and overwhelming. By way of comparison we also have the 5.11 Tactical Range Bag which is much bigger (10″x21″x14″) but is not as well organized as the Vertx. We take the Vertx to the range every time and relegate the 5.11 bag as a supplemental bag for when we go on weekend-long training classes and are hauling tons of ammo.

“Garage Deck” Feature

One of the ingenious features of the Vertx A-Range bag is the ammo “garage deck.” When you open up one of the sides, you have two pull-out “drawers” with mesh inserts that can be used to hold ammo and accessories.

In addition, the lining on the flap is all Velcro. I ended up buying a small pack of Velcro and adding it to the back of the included magazine pouch so it could be easily attached to the inside flap of the bag. This keeps both the magazines and ammo secure and easy to access. The mesh pockets on top are great for holding our autoloaders.

When we get to the range, we set the bag on the rear table, unzip the flap (which lays flat and can also do double duty as a gun rug), and then we can each reach the ammo we need right from one of the convenient drawers.

Vertx A-Range bag inside
Vertx A-Range “garage deck”

 

Great interior o

The inside of the Vertx A-Range bag is also well organized, with a rigid bottom and several side pockets to store small items. In the top compartment we’re able to fit 3-4 handguns (we like to use these small zip-up range bag inserts that fully open up to serve as individual gun rugs), and 3 sets of ear protection.

There’s another side zipper on the opposite side of the “garage” that doesn’t open up all the way but is wide and deep enough to accommodate all our eye protection, our compact Real Avid gun tool and a small bag with emergency cleaning gear.

What I love about this bag is it’s not so huge that it would seem too big if you’re just going to the range by yourself (especially if you like to bring several handguns with you), but it is big enough to accommodate the needs of several people all at once.

Vertx A-Range bag top
Vertx A-Range bag main compartment

 

Security on the go

Finally, one of the nicest additional features of the bag is an integrated lock-down system – a looped coated metal rod through the bottom and halfway up the side where the zipper locks through – that allows you to attach a cable to secure the bag (and the zippered main compartment) to a locking point inside your car.

For us, that’s been great since our favorite indoor range is about 30 miles away and we frequently plan stops for dinner or errands on our way there. Knowing we can discretely leave the range bag secure in the back of the SUV is comforting.

Vertx A-Range bag security cable
Vertx A-Range bag security cable

We’ve been using this bag continuously (at least weekly range dates) for the last several years. It’s held up amazingly well and shows very little signs of wear. The zippers, handles and stress points are all high quality and show no sign of giving up any time soon. For us, it’s been well worth the investment.

The Vertx A-Range bag is $199, and is available on Amazon.com* and other online stores.

*The Vertx A-Range bag is a product I purchased and use. Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

Dot Torture Target

Practice or plinking – shooting with a purpose

Marksmanship target
Not bad for my first stage!

I love range time as much as the next shooter, but I’m also somewhat competitive, especially with myself.  I found that over time, I would get a bit bored just shooting without a purpose, so I went in search of ways to challenge myself and improve my skills in the process.

Marksmanship Program to the rescue!

One of the first things I did was download the guidelines for the NRA Marksmanship Program. Other than going for the highest level of the program (Distinguished Expert), this program is self-managed, so you basically follow the instructions for the type of firearm you wish to qualify in (and there are many) and work through the program step-by-step.

One of the challenges with this program was finding the right targets. In the Pistol Qualification program that I’m working through there are a few different kinds of targets specified – the AP-1 or AP-2 targets.

These are the AP-2 targets that I was able to locate at a pretty reasonable price from a supplier on Amazon. Good news is these are used throughout the Pistol program.

What I enjoy about the Marksmanship Program is that it gives you an objective measure by which to challenge your shooting skills – improving both your accuracy and speed to target. It’s not just putting some head shots into the latest zombie target, although that can be fun too.

Dot Torture Target
Dot Torture

Dot Torture really IS torture!

If you’re not interested in going through an entire marksmanship program and are just looking for more challenging targets to shoot, I highly recommend Dot Torture.

This target was recommended to me by one of the amazing trainers at The Site Firearms Training Center, and while this is deceptively simple looking, it really IS torture!

You start with the target at 3 yards and with 50 rounds. You need at least 2 magazines as you have to speed reload on 9 and 10. Only when you get a perfect 50 score on the target (all hits within those frustratingly small 2-inch circles) can you move the target back another yard and start again.

At the indoor range we frequent we’re not allowed to draw from a holster, so I “simulate” the draw by going to a high ready stance. I simulate the speed reload by having the extra magazine on the shooting stand in front of me, and just drop my mag onto the table.

The idea is you’re really working a lot of skills here – strong hand and weak hand shooting, quick acquisition of the front sight, and speed reloading. In fact I credit my work on this target to me winning the speed reloading “contest” at one of the pistol training courses I took at The Site because I use this target EVERY TIME I go to the range.

Let me know what some of your favorite ways are to “practice with a purpose” in the comment below – I’d love to hear about it and I’m always looking for a new challenge.

*Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.