“Nope,” I said. “No time for practice, but I can see the sights again. It’s amazing how much better that makes everything,”
I first noticed it when I was having trouble reading cartridge-case heads when I was about 45 years old. Then, the print in books became hard to see, particularly in poor light. Some cheap, “cheater” glasses from the marts solved the problem. I bought them in packs of three and kept them all over the place. By the time I was in my mid-50s, it had progressed to the point where pistol sights were getting hard to see, but I was in denial.
Then, against my will, the years passed, and with age came understanding. I stubbornly tried to ignore it, but my shooting suffered as a result.
Had I realized how simple and effective the solution was, I would have done something sooner. I borrowed a plastic “blue gun,” from my friend Paul Pluff at Smith & Wesson and took it to my optometrist. A toy gun would no doubt work as well. Simply hold the pistol in your shooting position, and the doc will find the prescription that allows the clearest view of the front sight. The doctor will also determine the pupillary distance—the distance between pupil centers—usually expressed in millimeters. This info is used by the glasses provider to make a lens for your exact requirements.
There are other factors the doctor will look at when doing an eye exam, which is a good idea anyway. For example, this is a good time to deal with any astigmatism. But, for our needs, we are looking at the amount of correction needed to make the front sight appear sharp again.
Where it gets complicated, though, is while the front sight will be sharp and clear, that probably is not the best setting for your shooting glasses. Remember, you also need to be able to see the target and the rear sight. If you are a bullseye shooter, the distance from the front sight to your eye will never vary, so it would make sense to set the correction for the clearest view of the front sight when the pistol is in the shooting position. For any other type of pistol shooting—particularly for action shooting where targets, shooting stances and positions will vary—you will want to find a compromise.
Like most handgun guys, I shoot from a wide range of positions. My own version of the modified Weaver stance is the most common I use, but like any serious pistol shooter, I practice one-hand shooting, with both strong and weak hand. Each different shooting stance and style positions the sights at a different distance from my eye. Any change in position also changes the distance from the eye to the sights. Shooting from a barricade, prone or sitting also varies the eye-to-sight distance. Also, if your distance vision is good, the more correction you add to the glasses, the less clearly you will be able to see the target. So, when we factor in all these things, finding the middle ground in correction is the key to making it all work.
Backing off on the correction slightly also works better with a wide range of handguns. While I compete in 3-gun and USPSA with a 5-inch-barreled pistol, I shoot everything from snub-nose J-frame revolvers to long-barreled, single-action handguns. The distance from my eye to the front sight is very different with my J-frame carry gun than it is with my 7.5-inch Freedom Arms .454 Casull, so a middle ground on the correction makes sense.
The best solution is to have the correction added to your shooting-eye side only. That leaves your vision unchanged with the other eye. I am one of those rare folks who shoots handguns with my left hand and long guns right handed. I recognize most shooters will use the same eye for all types of firearm, and therefore this method of correction may cause problems with long guns.
A scope can be focused for clear vision when using glasses, and when shooting iron-sighted rifles with the correction, it has actually helped me see the sights better. Shotguns might be a problem, but I have practiced shooting “weak side” with the shotgun, keeping the correction in place, and have found it does not seem to have a significant effect on my performance.
Now if I just could find a magic solution for the other age-related matters—like running slower or creaking knees—I might win more matches.
Where to Order Corrective Shooting Glasses
Decot Hy-Wyd Sport Glasses; sportglasses.com
Revision Military; revisionmilitary.com