"All the better to see you with...."
When the Big Bad Wolf uttered those words, he probably had no idea that we'd be using that line in reference to shooting glasses.
Most high-level shooters will tell you that top performance depends on mental preparation and visual acuity. The mental prep part has been covered in this newsletter many times, so let's talk about what and how we should be seeing.
If you hang out at a range for more than two-and-a-half minutes, you'll undoubtedly hear someone tell a new shooter, "FOCUS ON THE FRONT SIGHT!!". This is great advice. When a shooter focuses on the front sight, they have the best chance to maintain acceptable sight alignment for the entire firing process. Any mis-alignment will be seen and corrections can be made. When one focuses downrange on the target, the shooter will not see the inherent movement of the sights and therefore can't correct it.
When we are in our twenties and thirties, the lenses in our eyes are very pliable and able to change focus quickly and repeatedly. Once we get to our forties and beyond, we lose that ability. MOST of us become slightly far-sighted and unable to focus on things closer than 40 inches or so. The older we get, the worse that becomes.
In any light "less-than-bright sunshine", another phenomenon kicks in and really intensifies any vision issues that you have. On indoor ranges or on very cloudy and dim days, our pupils dilate to let in more light. When that happens, our eyes lose their "depth of field". This is similar to using too much aperture in an SLR camera. You many be able to focus on the subject of your photo, but the background and any items in the foreground will be very fuzzy. If you crank that aperture down to a minimum, your picture will have the subject in sharp focus, but the background and foreground will only be slightly out-of-focus.
Traditional bi-focals, tri-focals, and progressives simply don't work. Having to adjust your head up or down to find that "sweet spot" for a sharp focus is time-consuming and will alter your shooting stance to a point where you're leaning back away from the gun.
When I was shooting International Pistol back at the turn of the century (isn't it weird that we can say that now?), I tried everything known to man to focus on the front sight. I got an expensive set of Varga shooting glasses. They are extremely modular. You can add blinders, eyeshades, and interchangeable lenses. I decided to start playing around with corrective lenses, even though, at 34 and 35 years old, I had absolutely no visual deficiencies. I could read newspapers and books without any eyestrain. Little did I know that things were about to take a serious downturn....
I tried a 0.75 diopter lens first. This is an extremely weak lens (you can't buy those Walmart/Walgreens reading glasses that are that weak). Even in my mid-30s, this lens was a game changer for me. I no longer had to think "Focus on the front sight.". It just APPEARED in front of me and was in sharp focus. I knew that the Vargas would not be usable for USPSA or Steel matches, so I had to start looking for something a little more conventional.
I found a company called Speert. They make reading glasses in just about any power and dimension. I found these to be acceptable for action pistol shooting, but not "optimal". No UV protection, limited impact protection coverage, and no color tint were the downsides.
You've probably read my endorsement of Hunter's HD Gold shooting glasses (the official eyewear of USPSA and Steel Challenge). I got a set of the standard "Gauge" glasses and found that they were comfortable and increased contrast. With my vision, they worked GREAT, as long as I was outside in relatively bright sunshine. Shooting at the weekly indoor matches, I found that I was once again on the losing side of the vision battle. When my pupils dilated in the dimly-lit indoor range, my "depth of field" decreased to the point where I could no longer focus on the sights. Everything was just one big blob with a fuzzy red dot somewhere in there from the fiber optic insert.
At the Alabama Steel Challenge this September, I spoke with HHDG's Brian Conley and told him about my issue. We decided to make a set of lenses for my glasses at 1.00 diopter. Again, this is pretty weak, but we're really just tweaking my vision to get it better.
A week later, I got them in. That was the trick. Now, even indoors, I am able to get a sharp focus on the front sight. The lenses used HHDG's proprietary color "that changes so you don't have to" and really makes contrast between objects downrange. (The cardboard-colored USPSA target doesn't blend in with the backstop and a white Steel Challenge plate really "pops" out of the background.)
Getting a proper prescription for shooting glasses can be a bit tricky. Here's where I hope that you have a REALLY cool optometrist. To set up the prescription correctly, the Doctor needs to know which focal distance we're looking for. It would be best if Doc could measure the distance from your eye to the front sight of the gun while you're holding it in your normal stance. If you're shooting USPSA, IDPA, or Action Pistol, most of those games are shot with a two-handed Isosceles stance with the gun centered on the front of the torso. For me, the front sight is approximately 28 inches from my eye. For bullseye or International Shooting, where the gun is held with one hand extended out to the side, that distance is approximately 33 inches for me.
These two distances require two different prescriptions to be perfect. I still use 0.75 diopter for those sports requiring one-handed shooting and 1.00 is best for the different stance used in USPSA, Steel Challenge, and Action Pistol.
Having a set of glasses made where your prescription is in the upper third of the lens or in the entire lens is THE way to go. Your front sight will be in super-sharp focus. The rest of the world may be a little fuzzy, but all of those things are large and easily seen. Your front sight is around 0.021 square inches. You need the help on the little things....
Gun Cleaning Special: Get the full-house, world-renowned CCGW cleaning job on your match guns, carry pieces, and hunting guns. Most every gun will be only $25 each; complicated guns slightly higher. (Glocks, M&Ps, 1911s/2011s, and the like are simple. Benelli M-4s, piston-driven ARs, etc. are NOT.) Turn-around time is typically less than a week.
We are offering complete basic guns built on our Camp Creek Gunworks-branded Lower Receivers, in addition to the full-house competition guns that we've always offered. We're calling these mil-spec guns the "Basic Defense" series. They feature a 16-inch barrel with A2 flash hider, a flat-top upper receiver, free-float handguard, collapsible stock, mil-spec trigger, mil-spec pistol grip, and the Magpul MOE trigger guard. Add a soft case and 30-round MagPul magazine. Of course, like all CCGW products, they're backed by our "We'll make it right" warranty. The price is only $749 plus tax.
Our latest thing has been PDWs (Personal Defense Weapons). These are built off of our CR-15 lowers and feature short barrels (length depends on caliber and your desired features). A pistol-stabilizing brace is added for greater accuracy potential. 5.56mm and .300 Blackout guns get the Noveske KX-5 suppressor. 9mm's don't need it. An upgrade to a folding stock model is available for $300 more. Prices start at $1500 for a basic model and go up to $3750 for the top-of-the-line model with EOTech HoloSight, TLR-2G light/laser combo, backup sights, premium SB Tactical brace, upgraded trigger, and custom fit case.
We have a 6-inch 2011 in-stock in .40 S&W. It is built light, so it swings well from target to target. The extra sight radius makes mid- and long-range shots EASY. Only $2700
SIG P320 X-Five Legion BNIB. This is the "tungsten-infused" frame that weighs 8 ounces more than the standard X-Five. $899 plus tax.
CCGW PCC's suitable for USPSA or 3-Gun competition are available. Got one ready-to-go now for $950!
Glock 22C: These are Blue Label Glocks (3 mags & night sights). Brand new in the box for $499 plus tax.
Used Glock 23C. LNIB with night sights and three mags. $425
Until next time, See you on the Range!!