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Eye safety is one of the most essential parts of shooting, whether competitive or amateur, indoor or outdoor. (Learn more) For this reason, choosing the right pair of shooting glasses is incredibly important. A bad choice can be uncomfortable, throw you off your game, or still expose your eyes to debris. (Learn More)
If you have vision problems, getting corrective surgery can improve your eyesight to the point where your accuracy and perception are boosted in the long term. (Learn More)
Shooting & Eye Safety
Having the right kind of eyewear when you go shooting will help you improve your accuracy and consistency, and it can also keep you and others safe. Accidents can happen at any time, sometimes due to no fault of your own. Many professional and amateur shooters have suffered from debris or excessive powder being blown back into their eyes.
For this reason, eye safety is paramount when it comes to shooting, and the best form of eye safety is shooting glasses. They protect the eyes when cartridges are ejected from your firearm, and they also help your eyes remain focused during bad weather or low-visibility conditions.
If you normally use corrective lenses, it is possible to get prescription shooting glasses, so you don’t have to sacrifice accuracy for safety.
Choosing Shooting Glasses
With all this, it is very important to choose the right pair of shooting glasses. You want to buy a pair that offers contrast when target shooting, so your target can be easily identified against its surroundings. Additionally, you want a pair of glasses that can fit snugly and comfortably since you might have to be wearing them for a long time. An accurate pair of glasses will not be of much help if the poor fit distracts you from being able to focus.
Shooting glasses are made with polycarbonate lenses, which offer valuable ultraviolet protection. Whatever the weather conditions, the right pair of shooting glasses can complement your choice of rifle or firearm.
When it comes to knowing which brand of shooting glasses to choose, there are three major standards that all manufacturers will try to meet.
- For civilians, the certification is ANSI Z87.1.
- For the military, the certification is MIL-PRF-31013.
- In Europe, the certification is EN166.
Civilians can also access eyewear made to military standards, although this will likely cost more, and supplies might not always be in stock. The MIL-PRF-31013 standard will be useful if you feel there is a risk of fragmentation or projectiles. The ANSI Z87.1 certification is the minimum that all eyewear for shooting must meet.
Recommendations for Shooting Glasses
Based on a review of a number of shooting websites, here are the best shooting glasses you can buy:
- Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield Field Kit: This model is made to meet military standards. Its primary feature is protection against impact.It can be made and adjusted to fit any face size, with the intention of providing a fit that is comfortable and secure. The lenses in the glasses are clear, which helps with indoor shooting, but they can also be swapped out with tinted lenses if you want to practice outdoors or go hunting.Shooting & Safety recommends the Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield (and field kit) for “doing well to correct any distortion that may arise.” They say this model “particularly works well for hunting because of the different protective options” it comes with.
- Wiley-X Saber Advanced Matte: Another highly rated choice for shooting eyewear is the Wiley-X Saber, which is preferred by many consumers because of the degree of protection and coverage it offers, all while still looking good. It even exceeds the criteria set out by the MIL-RF-31013 standards, offering more angles, optical clarity, and UV protection.It comes with a comfortable nosepiece. It is designed to work well with earmuffs, so you don’t have to worry about tightness or pinching when wearing it.
- ESS Eyewear Crossbow Suppressor 2X Deluxe: The ESS Eyewear Crossbow Suppressor 2X Deluxe is a high-end piece of shooting eyewear, but you will get your money’s worth. Online reviews speak to the wide-ranging fit and comfort of the design, and also the complete coverage for eye protection.Not only is the ESS certified for civilian and military use, it also meets guidelines set out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The glasses are rated to last for a very long time, and they feature some of the best protection that the modern generation of shooting glasses can offer. They are also designed to work well with different forms of ear protection, even ear-cup protective earmuffs, which can be bulky.While the ESS Eyewear Crossbow Suppressor is stylish, it was built for nothing less than comprehensive and practical protection of your eyes and face.
- Radians Revelation Shooting Glasses: If you’re looking for shooting glasses that are a little more affordable, you can get good value for your money with the Radians Revelation Shooting Glasses.Retailing at typically less than $20, they lack a lot of the impressive specifications of the other models you might find on the internet, but they meet the ANSI Z87.1 standard for high-velocity impact, which means that your eyes will be safe, no matter what.
Of all the accessories you can buy for your firearm, and even the firearm itself, shooting glasses are much less about personal preference and style, and entirely about safety. It is not worth the risk to choose a nicer-looking pair of eyeglasses that does not fit your face properly.
No matter how good you are at shooting, there are very real dangers inherent in the practice. Making a sound choice about your shooting glasses will save your eyes, and your vision, from those dangers.
How Eye Surgery Can Improve Your Shooting
Without proper vision, you don’t just face an impairment to locating your target. Your calculations of force and distance will also be thrown off, putting you at a significant disadvantage. Glasses, contact lenses, and even prescription shooting glasses can help a little, but there’s nothing like the accuracy offered by the naked eye — except when you have poor eyesight.
This is where corrective eye surgery can improve your shooting. Procedures like LASIK will help you compete (or just enjoy shooting) without any vision issues or having to worry about visual aids. Eye surgery can treat farsightedness, nearsightedness, and other refractive eye disorders.
The added benefit of getting corrective surgery to help you with your shooting is that the changes should last for years. If you properly take care of your eyes after the operation — and this includes always wearing shooting glasses when you’re hunting, practicing, or competing — then you will not have to worry about your vision affecting your accuracy or how to fit your shooting glasses over your eyeglasses.
Corrective eye surgery can give you vision that will help you enjoy and excel at shooting.
Shotgun Eye Injuries. Ocular Risk and Eye Protection Efficacy. (June 1992). Ophthalmology.
Penetrating Ocular Trauma Associated With Blank Cartridge. (2014). BMC Ophthalmology.
ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020: Current Standard for Safety Glasses. (April 2020). American National Standards Institute.
What Does Ballistic Rated Mean? GruntX Safety and Tactical.
The 12 Best Shooting Glasses + (Reviews & Buying Guide). Shooting and Safety.
Radians Revelation™ Safety Eyewear. Radians.
Sharpen Your Eyesight for Shooting Sports With Corrective Eye Surgery. (July 2019). The Web of Thing.