September 11th, 2017

Breath, Relax … and Improve Your Vision

Vision Eye Target Scope Relaxation Oxygen Target

Do you find that the crosshairs in your scope get blurry after a while, or that you experience eye strain during a match? This is normal, particularly as you get older. Focusing intensely on your target (through the scope or over iron sights) for an extended period of time can cause eye strain. Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce eye fatigue. For one — breathe deeper to take in more oxygen. Secondly, give your eyes a break between shots, looking away from the scope or sights.

In our Forum there is an interesting thread about vision and eye fatigue. One Forum member observed: “I have noticed recently that if I linger on the target for too long the crosshairs begin to blur and the whole image gradually darkens as if a cloud passed over the sun. I do wear contacts and wonder if that’s the problem. Anyone else experienced this? — Tommy”

Forum members advised Tommy to relax and breath deep. Increase oxygen intake and also move the eyes off the target for a bit. Closing the eyes briefly between shots can also relieve eye strain. Tommy found this improved the situation.

Keith G. noted: “Make sure you are still breathing… [your condition] sounds similar to the symptoms of holding one’s breath.”

Phil H. explained: “Tom — Our eyes are tremendous oxygen hogs. What you are witnessing is caused by lack of oxygen. When this happens, get off the sights, stare at the grass (most people’s eyes find the color green relaxing), breath, then get back on the rifle. Working on your cardio can help immensely. Worked for me when I shot Palma. Those aperture sights were a bear! The better my cardio got the better and longer I could see. Same thing with scopes. Try it!”

Watercam concurred: “+1 on breathing. Take a long slow deep breath, exhale and break shot. Also make sure you take a moment to look at the horizon without looking through rifle or spotting scope once in a while to fight fatigue. Same thing happens when using iron sights.”

Arizona shooter Scott Harris offered this advice: “To some extent, [blurring vision] happens to anyone staring at something for a long time. I try to keep vision crisp by getting the shot off in a timely fashion or close the eyes briefly to refresh them. Also keep moisturized and protect against wind with wrap-around glasses”.

Breathing Better and Relaxing the Eyes Really Worked…
Tommy, the shooter with the eye problem, said his vision improved after he worked on his breathing and gave his eyes a rest between shots: “Thanks guys. These techniques shrunk my group just a bit and every little bit helps.”

Read more tips on reducing eye fatigue in our Forum Thread: That Vision Thing.

To avoid eye fatigue, take your eyes away from the scope between shots, and look at something nearby (or even close your eyes briefly). Also work on your breathing and don’t hold your breath too long — that robs your system of oxygen.

eye vision Vince Bottomley

Permalink Optics, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
August 25th, 2017

Flip Your Target Colors for Better Long-Range Viewing

Negative target center reverse color image

At long range, small bullet holes are much easier to see “in the white” than in the black center of the normal High Power target. When you’re practicing at long range using a scoped rifle, one way to enhance your ability to see your bullet holes is to print a “negative” version of the regulation bullseye target so that your black center is now white.

How do you create a “negative” of a target image? Many image programs, including the FREE Irfanview software, have a “Negative” function in the pull-down menu. If you don’t see a “Negative” menu option in your program, look for a “substitute colors” option. Many printers also have a “reverse colors” function. If you can’t find a solution with your computer or printer, just take a normal bullseye target to a copy shop, and the staff can easily print you a set of targets with white centers in black fields.

Pentax PF-80 ED scopeForum member Watercam has a Pentax PF-80ED spotting scope that allows him to see 6mm bullet holes in the white at 600 yards. However, 6mm holes in the black are only visible out to 400 yards or so. Accordingly, Watercam uses a modified “reversed” black-to-white target for 600-yard practice. Watercam explains: “[Using the Pentax] With my 6mm and limited mirage I see defined, 6mm holes in the white out to 600. In the black, however, I can see bullets holes at about 400. I now use reverse-color targets for training without a pit partner at the 600-yard line.”

The Hi-Viz Solution — Day-Glo Pasters
If you’re not concerned with official scoring rings, you can use an all-white target with a bright, fluorescent target dot in the middle. A 2″- or 3″-diameter stick-on target dot is highly visible at 600 yards. Birchwood Casey Target Spots® assortment #33928-TSA offers neon orange target dots in 1″, 2″, and 3″ diameters.

Easel Pad flip chart target paper

TARGET TIP — Use Chart Paper
For practice backers for the Day-GLo pasters at long distance, use Flip Chart Paper (aka Easel Pads) marked with graph lines at 1″ intervals. Available either regular or self-stick, one sheet can hold 4-8 pasters and the white paper allows for easy spotting of the holes and quick estimation of group size. Get Flip Chart Paper at Amazon.com, Staples, or Office Depot.

Brits Use White-Field Target for F-Class
In the UK, some ranges are now using a “reverse-style” target with a mostly white area. Laurie Holland says this allows shooters to see shots much more easily. Laurie reports: “Here’s a photo of the 500/600 yard F-Class match target we use in PSSA comps at Diggle Ranges with club members Chris Hull (L) and Terry Mann (R). We now use this target form at all ranges up to 1K for F-Class, and, yes you can often see your hits at 600 yards on the target before the markers pull it. Regards from England — Laurie”.

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
June 2nd, 2017

Old Eyes? Optical Disc Attachments Can Help with Focus

Those of us over-50 types can use some help when shooting iron sights. As one gets older, your eyes lose the ability to rapidly adjust to different points of focus. In practice, when shooting a rifle, this means the target image may be sharp but the sights are blurry, or vice-versa. Or you may be able to see the target and front sight reasonably well, but the rear sight is a complete blur. (That is this Editor’s problem when shooting a rifle, such as a Swedish Mauser, with a notched blade rear sight.) Even if you are using a rear peep sight, you may see a blurry rear circle (or two circles if you have astigmatism). Placing a diopter sight (sighting disc) on your shooting glasses can help many people see open sights better, when shooting both handguns and rifles.

Merit Corp. in Schenectady, NY, offers an adjustable optical disc that attaches to shooting glasses with a rubber cup. Though primarily intended for pistol shooters, the Merit optical attachment can also be helpful when shooting rifles with open sights, such as military bolt actions. Priced at $65.00, the Merit device features a shutter-style, adjustable aperture iris.

Merit explains: “The human eye, whether or not prescription glasses are required, cannot focus on both sights and the target at the same time. The eye will constantly shift focus from the sights to the target trying to ensure proper alignment. Unfortunately, as we age, the eye loses the flexibility which allows it to do this; thus, sights and target begin to grow fuzzy. There is a simple way to combat this by increasing your eyes’ depth of field (range of focus). If you look through an aperture or pinhole of the correct size, you will be able to see both sights clearly, and the target will be clearly defined as well.”

In addition to optical attachments for eyeglasses, Merit produces a variety of adjustable iris sight products for rifles, including the Variable Iris Aperature for AR15s. Visit MeritCorporation.com or call (518) 346-1420.

Permalink Optics, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
November 19th, 2016

How to Avoid ‘Scope Bite’ (Scope Placement Tips)

Kirsten Weiss Video YouTube Scope Eye Relief

This helpful video from our friend Kirsten Joy Weiss explains how to avoid “scope bite”. This can occur when the scope, on recoil, moves back to contact your forehead, brow, or eye socket area. That’s not fun. While common sense tells us to avoid “scope bite” — sooner or later this happens to most shooters. One viewer noted: “I have come close. I had a Win Model 70 in .375 H & H Mag and I was shooting over a large rock in a strange position. The scope hit my eye glasses hard enough to bend the wire frames and cause a little pain on the bridge of the nose from the nose piece. [That] made a believer out of me.”

Kirsten offers a good basic principle — she suggests that you mount your rifle-scope so that the ocular (eyepiece) of the scope is positioned at least three inches or more from your eyeball when you hold the rifle in your normal shooting position. From a technical standpoint, optical eye relief is a property of the scope, so you want to purchase an optic that offers sufficient optical eye relief (meaning that it allows you to see the full circle of light with your head at least three inches from the eyepiece). Then you need to position the optic optimally for your head/eye position when shooting the rifle — with at least three inches of eyeball-to-scope separation (i.e. physical eye relief).

NOTE: You should mount the scope to provide adequate eyeball-to-scope separation for the actual position(s) you will be shooting most of the time. For an F-TR rig, this will be prone. For a hunting rifle, your most common position could be sitting or standing. Your head position will vary based on the position. You can’t assume the scope placement is correct just because it seems OK when you are testing or zeroing the gun from the bench. When shooting from a prone or kneeling position you may find your eye considerably closer to the eyepiece.

Permalink - Videos, Optics, Shooting Skills 5 Comments »
August 7th, 2016

Prescription Eyewear for Older Shooters

vision RX Prescription glasses for shooters

Shooting Sports USA has published an informative article covering prescription eyewear for shooters. In The Right Rx for Aging Eyes, writer Chris Christian reviews vision issues with Doctor of Optometry Alexis Rodriguez. Christian notes that many shooters have difficulty focusing on their sights as their eyes age. Even if you use scopes more of the time, we recommend you read this article, which explains the physiology (and bio-mechanics) of human vision.

Shooters experience vision issues as they get older, explained Dr. Rodriguez: “Presbyopia is the medical term that describes the natural deterioration of the eyes with age.” As people get older, the ability of the eyes to focus on near objects is diminished, due to the loss of elasticity of the crystalline lens inside the eye and the gradual deterioration of the ciliary muscles that help in bending the lens to focus. Rodriguez says the first symptoms usually occur around age 40, although some will experience them later. This normally starts with blurriness when looking at close objects. From that first point, this natural deterioration will continue to worsen until around the age of 65, where it normally stabilizes, and virtually all elasticity of focus is gone.

To overcome focus problems associated with aging eyes, Dr. Rodriguez often recommends a modified bifocal design for shooters. The lower insert is set to the shooter’s Sight Distance (SD) instead of a standard “reading” distance and the insert lens is moved upwards in the lens to a point in line with the bottom of the pupil. This allows the shooter to maintain a constant head position to access the lower lens and reduces image jump.

READ Full Article on Vision Correction for Shooters at SSUSA.org

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July 30th, 2016

Lyman EyePal Stick-on Peep Sighting System Can Aid Vision

Eyepal diopter peep sight stick-on glasses vision

Do you have “fuzzy sight syndrome”? Are you frustrated because you can no longer see both your iron sights and your target sharply? Here’s a product that can help. Lyman’s new EyePal is basically an adaptation of aperture or “peep” sights (sometimes called “diopter sights”). The EyePal works by restricting the viewable image to a small-diameter circle. This improves depth-of-field dramatically, which in turn keeps everything in focus, both sights AND Target. This principle has been used for some time with the Merit adjustable optical disc that attaches to shooting glasses with a rubber cup. The EyePal does much the same thing — for a lot less money.

Simply apply the EyePal to any eyewear and you should see an immediate improvement in focus (both near and far). Lyman explains: “The EyePal provides a small image where everything is in focus. This is particularly useful to shooters who have limited near vision but have good far vision. The EyePal enables you to simultaneously see the target, and iron sights — all in focus.”

How Do EyePals Work?

The EyePal is a modern adaptation of the century-old peep sight, which some folks call a pin-hole sight (remember those pin-hole camera experiments back in school?). The EyePal enables you to simultaneously see the target, your front and rear sights — all in focus.

EyePal stick-on apertures are made of a static cling material. This allows EyePals to be easily placed on safety eyewear and prescription glasses without marring the surface or leaving a residue when removed. EyePals are inexpensive (about $25.00 per set), easy to use, and long-lasting.

Permalink New Product, Optics 1 Comment »
April 29th, 2009

Shooting Sports USA Examines Shooters' Vision

Shooting Sports USA MagazineShooting Sports USA is the NRA’s dedicated journal for competition shooters of all disciplines. Shooting Sports USA offers feature stories, news briefs, and a comprehensive schedule of events, organized by discipline. You can now read the latest May 2009 issue in digital format on the web–at no cost. In fact, online subscriptions are free. You can sign up to receive a reminder in your inbox every time a new issue is available.

This month’s cover story, “Winning Vision: A Guide for the Eye Care Professional,” is a must-read. It’s written by Dr. Norman H. Wong, O.D., a professional eye doctor and competitive shooter.

Shooting Sports USA MagazineThe article is written to help shooters and eye doctors find the best solutions for vision problems. We know many shooters, particularly as they hit “middle age” and beyond, experience a variety of vision issues. However, it’s common for shooters to ignore their eye problems, at the same time spending buckets of money on expensive optics. Pay attention to what Dr. Wong writes and you can benefit. Remember that the last element in the sighting system is the human eye — and no scope, no matter how sophisticated, can overcome serious failings in a shooters’ vision that remain uncorrected.

CLICK HERE for an archive of 24 more vision-related articles by Dr. Wong. Forum Member Jim Hardy comments: “[The] 24 articles by Dr. Norman Wong address many of the ocular issues confronting the competitive shooter. I downloaded all 55 pages and consider it mandatory reading for anyone associated with the shooting sports, whether you shoot iron sights or scope — handgun or rifle. The information is absolutely invaluable.

If you are not seeing your best, you cannot shoot your best. If you don’t know the questions to ask your eye professional, you are not likely to get the answers your need — starting with the selection of your eye care professional. The Rx that works for reading, work, and driving may not be close to what you need on the range. These articles will give you the basic education you need to address the vision issues in your shooting game.”

Dr. Norman H. Wong, OD

This item is provided courtesy the NRA Blog.

Permalink - Articles, Optics 2 Comments »