July 20th, 2021

You Only Have One Set of Eyes — Protect Them

Sherri Gallagher
Sherri Jo Gallagher, the second woman in history to win the NRA High Power National Championship, sports Eye Protection at Camp Perry. The first lady HP Champion was Sherri’s mother, Nancy Tompkins.

In response to a Bulletin article about Protective Eyewear, one of our Canadian readers posted a personal story. His account demonstrates the importance of wearing eye protection whenever you shoot — no matter what type of firearm you are using — even air rifles. We hope all our readers take this to heart. All too often at rifle matches we see shooters, even some top competitors, risking their vision by failing to wear eye protection.

Eye and Hearing Protection are now MANDATORY for Highpower Rifle competitors and Pistol shooters in all CMP-affiliated matches. The 2020 CMP Highpower Rifle, Pistol, and CMP Games Rulebooks all contain the following rule: “All competitors and competition officials are required to wear appropriate eye and hearing protection when on shooting range firing lines during highpower rifle or pistol firing. All competitors must comply with this requirement before they can participate in a CMP sponsored or sanctioned competition. Competitors are responsible for selecting their eyewear and hearing protection.”

2020 CMP Civilian Marksmanship program rules Highpower High Power mandatory eye protection

Red Ryder BB Gun safetyEye Protection — Lesson Learned
by Nicholas from Canada
As a boy on a mixed farm on the plains the first shooting stick I owned was a Red Ryder BB gun. My Dad bought it for me as I showed a keen interest in the shooting and hunting sports. I was about 9 years old at the time.

We had literally thousands of sparrows in our large farm yard and they liked to roost on the steel railings in the barn loft. I took to slowly thinning out their ranks by flashlight at night as these little winged pests settled in the farm buildings.

One evening as I slayed sparrow after sparrow in the barn loft — with about a dozen farm cats following me to consume these easy meals, I fired at another bird centered in my flashlight beam.

However, my aim was a bit low — and the copper pellet hit the steel beam square on. Instantly I felt a sharp pain as the BB bounced back and hit me squarely between the eyes on the bridge of my nose ā€“ drawing blood from the partial penetration into the skin. A half inch either way and Iā€™d have lost an eye!

Never, never, never shoot at any target with a steel background with any firearm, even a BB gun ā€“ is the hard lesson I learned, and wear the best shooting glasses that money can buy!

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT!!

Editor’s Comment: Among competitive pistol shooters, the use of safety eyewear is universal. You’ll never see Rob Leatham, Julie Golob, or Jerry Miculek competing without eye protection — for good reason. The handgun sports’ governing bodies effectively enforce mandatory eye protection policies. We wish the same could be said for competitive rifle shooting. We often see benchrest, High Power, and F-Class competitors shooting without eye protection. We’ve heard all the excuses, yet none of them trump the safety considerations involved.

We recommend that all shooters and hunters employ eye protection whenever they use firearms or are at a location where live fire is taking place. You only have two eyes. A tiny bullet fragment or ricochet is all it takes to cause permanent blindness in one or both eyes. As rifle shooters, we place our eyes a couple inches away from a combustion chamber operating at pressures up to 70,000 psi. I know quite a few guys who will religiously put on safety glasses when running a lathe or a drill press, yet the same guys won’t use eye protection when shooting their rifles — simply because it is “inconvenient”. That’s nuts. It doesn’t matter is you are a cub scout or a multi-time National Champion — you should wear eye protection.

Be wise — protect your eyes. To learn more about eyewear safety standards, and to learn about the latest options in ANSI Z87-certified protective eyewear, read our article on Eye Protection for Shooters.