See It! (with Colonel Smoothbore)
By angelamontana

Posted: March 31, 2019

A few weeks ago I discussed the importance of protecting one’s hearing from loud noise such as gunfire. Well, the same can be said for protecting one’s eyesight.

We have bifocal, meaning two eyes, vision. Loss of part or all of our vision in one or both eyes can be catastrophic for enjoying life. I can’t count the number of times on the gun range I have suggested to shooters the need for wearing eye protection. I usually keep a couple pair of safety glasses in my shooting bag and I give these to young shooters whenever the need arises. These “gifts” also include a somewhat short, but stern lecture to the parent or guardian about the absolute need for eye protection while at the gun range whether shooting or not.

There are many options to protect our eyes. As I mentioned above, I carry spare safety glasses. These can be found at hardware and home improvement stores for 2 to 3 bucks a pair, and some are designed to be worn over one’s prescription glasses. For such a small amount of money it’s foolish not to take advantage of their benefits.

Moving up to a little more fashionable option, I suggest trying polycarbonate lens equipped shooting glasses. These are available at most sporting goods stores and major retailers and come in many colors for use in differing light. One that works well for me in most light conditions is amber or what we shotgunners call “light target orange.” The cost of these range from 10 to around 30 dollars.

Finally for the shooter who spends a great deal of time at the range there are custom frame and lens makers. Some of the companies that come to mind are Decot, Randolph, Rudy Project, and Oakley. There are many frame and lens styles available in an incredible number of colors. The cost of these systems usually start at around $100.00 and the price increases depending on how many lenses and prescriptions are added.

I have a pair of Decot International style frames that I have used for about 10 years. These have lenses that can be changed in about a minute enabling me to compensate for varying light conditions. I use the aforementioned light target orange with my prescription bifocal for the range portion of my classes, as well as some pistol competitions on cloudy days. I also have two other sets of lenses; purple for bright sunny days, and violet for dull or overcast days. I use these in clay target tourneys. It is hard to describe how much brighter the orange targets seem, especially with the purple lenses. I have red fiber optic front sights on some of my competition pistols and I have found the violet lenses aid me in picking up the sight. My eyesight has deteriorated over time and now cataracts are beginning to cloud my vision. I’m told removing them is in my future. For me, the sooner the better.

A long time ago I was shooting a .22 semi-auto pistol; I wasn’t wearing eye protection. This was a blow-back design and after firing a few rounds, I was hit in the eye with a hot spark when the case was ejected. It really hurt and I swore I would never fire a gun again without eye protection. Please take my advice and always wear shooting glasses. You can learn from my “school of hard knocks,” cover your eyes!

Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore