Gun enthusiasts know how important it is to keep their eyes safe as well as being able to see the target clearly. For some shooters, however, their eyes may not be as sharp as they were when they were younger. If this is the case, prescription shooting glasses may be necessary.
Why Is Good Vision Important For Shooting?
Good vision is important if you want to be able to see small targets downrange. Some targets are no more than tiny dots off in the distance. Without good vision, you may never get the bullseye you are trying for.
Also, if you decide to go hunting, being able to spot details at a far distance is necessary. Animals have natural camouflage and can easily be hide near a bush, tree, or boulder.
What Are Prescription Shooting Glasses?
Prescription shooting glasses are eyeglasses that have been designed specifically for shooting. They offer superior protection against debris and other objects that may be encountered while operating a firearm.
You can buy shooting glasses with a prescription, which is a good option if you have poor vision. The shooting glasses will have special lenses that are designed to protect your eyes from the recoil of the gun and the flying debris.
They are very useful if you do not have very good vision or already have an eye prescription and do not want to bring them to the range. They are also great for people that visit shooting ranges often and like to shoot small targets at long distances, but often have to squint to see them.
Should You Buy Prescription Shooting Glasses?
If you have prescription eye glasses for normal daily use, then getting prescription shooting glasses might be a good idea. You don’t need perfect vision to sport shoot, but it helps if it is as close to this as possible.
This is especially true for shooting skeet, trap, or sporting clays where seeing the target faster allows the person to predict its location. This makes a big difference between hitting the target and missing it.
However, if you have and prefer to use prescription contact lenses, then wearing a normal pair of shooting glasses will sufffice.
Shooting glasses you buy need to have tough polycarbonate lenses to withstand impact from shell casings, clay pigeon fragments, lead pellets, or gun blow-back.
So, before purchasing prescription shooting glasses, make sure they meet all the most important safety standards, especially ANSI Z87.1 Other capabilities to look for include:
- Shatterproof lenses
- UV Protection (UV400 preferably)
- Anti-reflective coating
- Scratch resistant coating
- Flexible and durable frames
How To Get Prescription Shooting Glasses?
Getting prescription shooting glasses requires getting lenses that have magnification. Without magnification, shooting glasses will not be beneficial for shooting no matter how expensive they may be.
If you wear prescription glasses, then you can wear safety glasses or goggles over prescription glasses. You need to speak to your optometrist about the best way to do this. Also, many safety glasses manufacturers will provide details in their product description about how they fit over prescription glasses.
You can buy safety glasses or goggles made with your exact prescription. Again, you need to speak to an optometrist. This likely means getting a vision exam and going through the lense and frame matching process in their office.
Shooting Glasses With Tint
Prescription shooting glasses come in a variety of tints, each to optimize for different shooting conditions and situations. They include:
- Yellow – Good for filtering blue light and haze
- Orange – Similar affects as yellow tint.
- Gray – Helps to limit bright sun without diminishing color.
- Pink – Increases orange target visibility, which is helpful for skeet and trap shooting.
- Purple – Improves contrast against green foliage or backgrounds.
- Clear – Great for low-light conditions and indoor shooting.
Choosing the right tint helps increase contrast between the target and the background. This could require purchasing multiple shooting glasses or interchangeable lenses.
Clear Shooting Glasses
You can purchase clear tint shooting glasses. These are excellent for indoor shooting ranges where sun glare is not an issue. However they may be less stylish, and easily mixed up with other ordinary safety glasses you may have laying around.
In general, clear tint is great for all-around shooting glasses, where you don’t know exactly what environment you will shooting in.
Shooting Glasses With Magnification
How much magnification can you get with prescription shooting glasses? Shooting glasses can have magnification that matches the prescription the person uses in daily life. They may be able to enhance some of its capabilities.
For example, an optometrist or opthamalogist will be able to adjust the contrast, tints, and shooting site distance of the shooting glasses.
Shooting Glasses With Readers
You can purchases shooting glasses with readers. These are great for shooting instructors or for those that just want to be able to read the shell boxes, firearm labels, or signs posted in the vicinity.
Shooting glasses with readers will have the reading magnification at the top of the lenses so the sights are easily seen.
The reading magnification can match the same one’s used in everyday glasses. This ranges from 1.00 to 3.00 with partial steps between.
This allows the shooter to leave their regular reading glasses at home!
Bifocal Shooting Safety Glasses
Bifocal shooting glasses will have lenses with two different magnifications. The purpose is to allow shooting targets at short or long distances. They also help with sighting the the gun and equipment correctly.
Bifocal shooting glasses can be obtained from an optometrist or online that has the same prescription as the user’s regular glass prescriptions.
Shooting Glasses For Nearsighted
Shooting long distances will be difficult for those that are nearsighted. Fortunately, prescription shooting glasses can correct this and allow for hitting targets at long range.
Shooting Glasses With Prescription Inserts
Some regular (non-prescription) shooting glasses come with interchangeable lenses. This is less likely with prescription shooting glasses. Although if they are available, they may save the wearer money by only requiring an extra set of lenses, rather than seperate glasses.
Shooting Glasses For Left Eye Dominant
Having a dominant left eye, or using your left eye more for aiming a gun while shooting, is a common shooting trait. Fortunately, shooting glasses are available to help shooters with this dominant eye.
It depends on whether the person uses the left eye for sighting more than the right.
Shooting Glasses With One Eye Blacked Out
If you have a dominant left or right eye, you may want to have one eye blacked out while shooting. The reason is that constantly squinting one eye to aim with the other could tire out the eye muscles. This could make shooting less fun.
Some shooters hold one hand over their less dominant eye, but this can become annoying with time.
One solution is to cover one lens with clear cellophane tape, but then this prevents normal vision somewhat. The best option may be to purchase a flip-up blinder for the less dominant eye. These are inexpensive and connect to the top of the lens at the frame.
However, they may or may not be allowed in international ISSF shooting competitions, so be sure to check with the manufacturer.
Shooting Glasses Hard Case
It is recommended to purchase shooting glasses with a ballistic storage case. Having the right protective cases will keep your prescription shooing glasses secure and free from damage.
Shooting Glasses Iris Disc
An adjustable iris disc for shooting glasses can help narrow the field of vision. These are useful for professional target shooting and attach to special metal frames. A side handle will allow for adjusting the iris to open or close it.
Getting An Eye Exam Before Shooting
If you are just starting out sport shooting at the range, and you notice you are struggling with seeing targets at long distance, there may be an issue with your eyes. If this is the case, it is a good idea to get your eyes checked by a doctor. If your prescription has not been recently updated, this could prove helpful.
Shooting Glasses And Hearing Protection
Shooting glasses are not the only safety gear you need when shooting. Your ears can be very easily damaged by just one nearby gunshot. This is why purchasing shooting glasses with hearing protection (plugs, muffs) is recommended.
Prescription shooting glasses help make sport shooting both fun and safe.
Regardless of whether you choose these over ordinary shooting glasses, always keep safety in mind when shooting as guns are extremely dangerous.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.