PSA: Wear Shooting Glasses. Phil Nearly Lost an Eye.

A few weeks ago I was on the way home and decided to stop and shoot a few rounds at an unsupervised public range. Now I normally stay away from this kind of range because there always seems to one of “those” guys around. I figured no big deal and it will be dark by the time I get home and at this time of the day there probably won’t be anybody on this range anyway. One juicy rationalization I wish I hadn’t made.

I pull up and sure enough there are a couple of younger guys shooting a .22 rifle. I setup down the line from them and got my range bag out and laid a few mags out. Max distance on this range is 25 yards. Well I never got to shoot any of those 45 acps. I had just loaded some 200 grain handloads in my third mag when my Oakleys were knocked sideways to my left. It took a second but I knew what had hit my glasses a damn bullet! I guess it was just reflex but I drew my Remington Carry 1911 and looked at the only people on the range besides myself.

The next thing to happen is my yelling at them to cease fire–police which they did. You have a very angry guy with a 1911 in hand in low ready hollering at you I guess it tends to get your attention. I figured out pretty fast it wasn’t intentional so I walked over to them after holstering and putting my police ID away. On the way I looked at what they were shooting with the 22 rifle. They were shooting an old piece of steel with large caliber holes already in it from some other shooter. How stupid can a couple of young adults be!

As any shooter knows you don’t shoot a piece of steel like that so close to you with a .22 LR. Rounds will ricochet without fail. I had a sincere discussion with them until they realized what they had done. It scared the crud out of them when they did realize they had just bounced a 22LR off the left lense of my Oakleys.

After listening to apologies for the next ten minutes I told them to remember what happened here and emphasized it could have been a lot worse. They left and I sat down a few minutes thinking about what had happened then packed up and went home.

Here on TFB we’ve talked many times about wearing glasses on the range and shown many brands and types of glasses. I’m a firm believer in wearing glasses on the range and always have been. I know some have commented you don’t need them but you just never know and this sure proves it.

I posted a photo of my glasses which shows where the .22 round skipped off the lens. It was a hard photo to get and still show where the round hit.The clear silicone nosepiece on the left side popped out and I haven’t a clue where that went.

These glasses are the Oakley Crosshair and I sure can attest to the quality, comfort and ability to protect a shooters vision! If you want some good everyday sunglasses that also protect you on the range these sure fill the bill. I thought about writing this for a couple of weeks and finally decided if it changes one persons mind about wearing protective glasses on the range it would be worth it.

Chris Cheng recently wrote a couple of installments on his visit to the Oakley factory. He is an Oakley enthusiast and now I am too, they saved the vision in my left eye and who knows what else!

[ Steve Says: I just want to add that shooting glasses should be worn before entering the vicinity of a gun range. Don’t wait until you are walking towards the firing line.  Last year Bryan Jones and I were walking and talking at the SHOT Show Media Day Shoot. Bryan suddenly yelled and asked me to check his eye. A piece of shrapnel had embedded itself in his face just next to his eye protection. It was deep enough in his flesh to bleed. We were quite a distance from the firing line at a very well controlled range that was only being used by shooting media and gun industry employees. We were both wearing eye protection, but if he had not along with a split second’s difference in timing, then Bryan, a professional photographer, would have lost or severely damaged one eye. 

I also want to emphasize the far less sexy ear protection. Unlike shooting glasses, nobody has ever looked cooler wearing ear protection than they did without it. Not wearing ear protection will cause damage every time you pull the trigger and the damage will accumulate over your lifetime. A good friend of mine is an Audiologist who sees many life long hunters come in with hearing problems later in life. 

Phil and I both use Etymotic Research hearing protection (read my review from 2012 here. Phil’s 2013 review is here.).  They are expensive, but are much more comfortable to wear for long periods of time than bulky earmuff electronic hearing protection, especially on a hot day. If you can’t afford high-end ear protection, disposable foam ear plugs cost less than 50c a pair and do just as good a job at protecting your hearing (but are much less convenient). I keep at least five pairs of foam ear plugs in my vehicle to make sure I always have them when I need them, if I forget my Etymotics, and also to provide them to other shooters who forget their protection at home (I also keep an extra two or three pairs of cheap shooting glasses in my range bag). ]

Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


  • AndyT

    Anyone know the best place to get RX oakleys? I normally wear regular glasses when shooting but I think it’s time to upgrade…

    • Ken

      Check to see if your insurance covers them. I just figured out a few weeks ago that mine cover both lenses and frames, so I went to Lenscrafters and had them order them. As I understand it, an authorized dealer must order them directly from Oakley. I wish that I had checked earlier, since I could have gotten a free pair of a Oakleys every year. I’ve only gotten glasses twice ever, so I haven’t been getting my money’s worth.

      • AndyT

        I think vision insurance is a scam as I pay more in premiums then I would for an annual eye exam + my prescription glasses and sunglasses even if I buy a pair of each every year. I order
        My glasses online for normal wear and they run around $60 for frame and lenses. So I pay $200 out of pocket for eye care every year (includes all the dilation and eye pressure tests).

        Maybe I’ll buy insurance just to get some oakleys though as they seem to run 200-300. Kinda hoping I can find somewhere to order online.

        • Ken

          The list price for my Oakley’s was $480 for regular Flak Jacket frames plus the prescription lenses with Iridium coating, all covered by insurance. My health insurance is still under my parent’s, and it’s a state employee plan, so we’re not paying for it.

        • I pay less than $23/year for VSP vision insurance. I think you need to talk to HR about changing your service provider.

    • You can send Oakley a prescription for your glasses and have them made. I believe Oakley provides that service. Of course your insurance will probably cover it. Now not all Oakley frames will take a prescription lens but most will. I imagine calling Oakley they can tell you of places in your area that carry them.

    • Grindstone50k

      I just got a pair of regular prescription Oakley frames/lenses at Lenscrafters. To prove I’m not shilling for them, their service sucks and they try to pawn off their display models to you. You have to *specify* you want *new* frames. Not going back again. But they are available.

  • 100%. My mother used to say “You’re not a starfish. Somethings don’t grow back.” Eyes & ears. Every time.

  • nathan bellah

    Almost Red Ridered. Glad to see you are ok sir. Merry Christmas.

  • joethefatman

    You can’t get me to wear eye protection with this story.

    I already do. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Not because of guns, but due to a life of working in various industries where I’ve had steel shavings, rocks etc, bounce off the glasses. Hell an S hook from a bungee cord broke a lens once. With those experiences, it was a no brainer when it came to their use around guns. personal safety is safe, period. I am that guy when it comes to eyes and ears.

    • I’m with you on both counts!

    • Steve Martinovich

      Down with that Joe. I had an eye accident in my younger days and when firing one of the ladies I always make sure to have eye and ear pro. I’m amazed how many people don’t “bother”.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      Excellent comment. When working topside ( and not underwater, when I’m dressed into an armored diving helmet and suit anyway ) in any industrial or marine industrial environment, I always make sure to wear full PPE regardless of circumstances. As they say, it only takes that one time, the odds notwithstanding, to ruin — or at least compromise — the rest of your life.

      I will also attest to Phil’s emphasis on the importance of hearing protection. After 37-plus years working in extremely noisy environments ( for example, the ongoing noise level in the main engine room of a large modern ocean-going commercial vessel, where each engine develops between 20,000 and 30,000 hp or more, is an unrelenting 140 decibels or higher, even with modern technology ), I still have excellent hearing, but only because I have taken these precautions consistently. Don’t let momentary inconveniences be the cause of a long-term regret.

  • Don Ward

    PSA: Don’t brandish a firearm with an intent to intimidate. Come on Officer White 🙂

    • Karl

      Not intimidate, he didn’t know what the situation was and there was a possibility of it not being accidental. I’m sure he holstered as soon as he realized what was going on.

      • Don Ward

        That’s not what was written. It says that they had a very angry guy yelling at them with a 1911 in hand at a “low ready” position. That’s brandishing. At least with my state’s RCW. Obviously there’s no need to make a federal case out of it. And I’m glad it worked out. But you have to be careful these days.

      • Very true—

    • No brandishing–I had no idea what the situation was at first. Stupidity or intentional. I didn’t know at first. After hollering cease fire and police I realized they didn’t have a clue what happened I holstered put the my badge away and approached them.

      • Ethan

        I think most people who have effectively just been shot would have the same reaction.. It’s ok to be on high alert until you know what’s going on.

        I want to enphasize that you, being a responsible gun handler and mature adult obeyed rule #4: Know your target.

        You didn’t just start shooting into the shadows or even point a loaded weapon at someone you had not positively identified as a threat. You analyzed the situation and responded accordingly.

        Well done. This story ended exactly as it should have. Sorry about the Oakleys.

        • Thank you Ethan you summed it up well and have a good understanding of how these things work. I have a new set of the same Oakleys now. I hated to have them destroyed but they did their job which is what counts.

      • Don Ward

        Fair enough. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be snippy here. It was just my inner editor/reporter coming out when I read the story.
        I think the difference is that you’re able to yell the magic two syllable word that starts with the letter “P”. Me being a Mark 1 civilian, if I drew my weapon and then kindly offered salutations to my fellow firearm enthusiasts to cease discharging their firearms while their heads were proctally inverted, it would be a different scenario.

    • Mate, you’re in a situation where you just realized a .22 just missed your head, and you’re gonna tell me you won’t at LEAST wonder if someone was actually trying to shoot you? You might be tier 1 kiss cool operator but not everyone is, and I completely understand his reaction.

      He wasn’t trying to intimidate, he was in legitimate fear for his life. It just turns out it was not a self-defense scenario, but just an unfortunate accident.

      • Don Ward

        In that situation, at a shooting range, I would assume that a ricochet or shell casing or an accidental discharge was directed at me and I would get prone or behind hard cover as quickly as possible.

      • I’m sure glad that’s what it was! With all those years of police work you always react to something like that as a potential threat first and foremost.

  • Jeff Smith

    Yikes! I’m glad you’re ok, Phil!

  • MattW

    I have come to despise unsupervised, or even some lightly supervised, public ranges for this exact reason. I don’t trust other shooters, too many have no clue as to what they are doing right or wrong. Granted, I’ve had to walk away from dangerous situations at heavily monitored ranges as well – even after informing the RO of unsafe behavior multiple times.

    Glad you were wearing good eyes and walked away unscathed Phil!

    • Thanks Matt and I’ll never stop at that range again. I never liked them in the first place but I messed up and broke my own rule about not using them.

  • HadItHappen

    This happened to me a few years back. Blood was all over the range floor instantly and remained there for months (mostly covered outdoor range) There was a piece of .223 brass in the deep cut below my eye for a year before I managed to get it out (the last pic shows the piece). I was wearing glasses but I had just switched guns and forgot to drop my shades back down before starting to shoot… can happen. I look back now and realize how lucky I am to have not lost an eye. I’ve used the scar below my eye to educate/inform others when I am at the range that you should always wear eye protection. I screwed up and forgot to drop my glasses back down between shooting different rifles and I paid the price. Never again.

    Oh…and the rifle was a SIG 556. It was destroyed. The owner called SIG and they actually replaced with a SIG551-A1, few extra mags and a case for no charge. I got the scar and he got an “upgrade” 🙂

    • Man that is scary stuff and you really got hammered. I’m just glad you came out ok—eventually!

      • HadItHappen

        Heh. I thought I had just gotten away with a deep cut and that was all. A day or two later the skin still wasn’t feeling right so I took a handheld metal detector over the area….*BEEP*BEEP*BEEP*BEEP*BEEP* Doh!

    • uisconfruzed

      What caused the Sig to let go?
      What range are you at that has a shooting bench with ‘Queen Ann’ Legs??

      • HadItHappen

        I’m going with the theory that it was a weak piece of brass. Where did you get Queen Ann Legs?

        • uisconfruzed

          It’s what looks like the white/bloody cloth is on.

          • HadItHappen

            I bled like crazy for sure. Digging out the piece of brass a year later was a real hoot too.

          • uisconfruzed

            That sucks, your article helped remind me today as I was working up sub and sonic 300BLK rounds and almost forgot to swap from reading to safety glasses.
            Thanks for sharing your pain.

          • That’s one thing I’ve noticed a good deal and that’s people not wearing glasses when reloading.

    • Josh

      What caused the Sig to come apart who was shooting? I’m guessing reloads maybe.

  • Fruitbat44

    Geez, that was a narrow squeak. Very glad to hear Phil’s okay.
    And meanwhile let’s hear for wearing the proper protective equipment! Hearing and eyesight; well worth protecting.

    • Thank you sir!

      • Fruitbat44

        You’re welcome. But you don’t have to call me sir, I work for a living. 🙂
        And meanwhile, little early I know but what the heck, A Merry Christmas to all on TFB and Best Wishes for a Peaceful & Prosperous 2015.

  • gunslinger

    i guess on a prositve note, you were able to educate those kids. think if you didn’t stop, and they were at it next week.

    • Yea I hadn’t thought of that and you’re probably right they would have kept right on going. For brevities sake I didn’t mention it but that steel plate is at the bottom of a nearby lake.

      • gunslinger

        hopefully it won’t happen again.

        • I don’t think it will. They were kinda shook up when they left. There’s a lake about a block away from the range and I watched them toss that steel plate in.

  • Geez you were lucky indeed. That must have been very scary!

  • Really sorry that happened to you, sir, and very glad you got home safe and unhurt. Stay safe… and Merry Christmas!

  • Jeremiah Hoover

    As someone who has had metal in their eye, (metal wire off grinding wheel went under my glasses) believe me when I tell you having someone take what amounts to a dremel and route around in your eyeball isn’t the least bit fun. I wear eye pro at work every day and do most of the time I am at the range. Yes I said most of the time. I have been known to get lazy on occasion. (hey at least I admit it) Having to wear and pay for perscription anything sucks but the expense of the optical surgeon sucks much worse. Wanna know what the pain might be like? Ever pour iodine in a very nasty open wound? Now imagine that’s your eyeball. They actually put iodine in my eye so they could see the scratches. I for one can’t stand having anything in my eye. I can’t even put in contacts. Imagine if you will just how pleasant of an experience that was.

  • quraina

    I got chewed out a couple months ago at the club range for not wearing my glasses, so I’m careful to wear them now. But I need some advice from you guys: how do you keep them from fogging up? Many days I have to take them off and wipe them after every shot in slow fire. What’s the secret?

    • No secret really. Most places that sell glasses have a small spray bottle of liquid which cleans and leaves an anti-fog coating behind. I use a type of paste on mine.

  • Ricochet——-

  • mosinman

    my shooting glasses have AR500 blast shields.they were given to me as a gift and i was told that “my eyes could deceive me, and not to trust them” “and to stretch out with my feelings” in order to hit my target. of course my friend says that “hokey shooting stances and ancient all steel autoloaders are no match for a Glock at your side”
    (kudos if you get the slightly altered reference)

    Glad you’re ok Phil, it’s good to be reminded to wear eye pro at the range

  • Wolfgar

    Don’t forget to use safety glasses when dissembling any firearm. I had a recoil spring from an STI pistol shoot the guide rod out and hit me on the eyebrow which sent me to the E.R. getting stitches. If that would have hit me in the eye I would be a one eye shooter today. Lesson learned.

  • jonspencer

    Just like on a motorcycle, “all the gear all the time”.
    Yes, you can get away without it most of the time.
    But if you don’t have it on when you need it ????

  • Wetcoaster

    I wear glasses and have a small nose (low bridge) causing glasses to sit too low to cover my eyes entirely. What eye protection options do I have in this situation?

    • Actually another pair of Oakley shooting glasses I have are the “M” model which sits higher and also comes with two nose pieces and a wraparound design. You might try some of those on and see if they work for you.

      • Wetcoaster

        Will they fit on top of regular glasses? For lab work, goggles that fit over prescription glasses were preferred, but they are rather more awkward on the range.

  • You caught a Ric and drew down on two kids…
    That’s just great.
    You know – You probably could have called Cease Fire without pointing a weapon at kids. Normally at a range, that’s what happens.
    Let’s put this in a different light. If I had been there, say, setting up my kids to shoot and I walk away from the firing line… say, I got an important phone call… and turn around and see you pointing a weapon at my kids – You sir would have been instantly shot.

    • First of all I didn’t draw down on two kids. Low ready is not pointing a gun at anyone. If you had read the discussion I also said cease fire police. I also got my ID out.
      When I say kids I mean approx 19 or 20 years old. You act like I meant 10 year olds—-geez read the whole thing before you make statements like this. I did say young adults but I guess you missed that. I doubt you would allow your children to shoot and old piece of steel with holes in it(with a .22) so that makes it a moot point in your case.

  • Sig_Sauer

    Last year I had a spent brass casing stuck between my eyelid and my regular glasses. Wow did that burn. Now, I have prescription wrap around shooting glasses with built in side shields. They are fantastic. They cost around $300 and my insurance covered most of the cost. Please make the investment, they are well worth it.

  • me ohmy

    you got seriously lucky it went center of the lens. distributing the energy over the whole field and then popped them off at compression. guess they had a change of underwear after that stage of staring down a pissed off person with two and half times the caliber.

    • I felt very fortunate for sure! I’m sure you’re right hitting the lens in the center where it’s most likely the strongest helped I’m sure.

  • Yep they aren’t always deflected into the ground at the front of the target even when they are setup correctly. Glad you came out ok without major damage!

  • True and you see those kind everywhere. Not a good idea to depend on those types.

  • BKE Evers

    The same reason I demand the hardest safety lenses for my everyday glasses. I have dropped two optometrists who gave me funny looks when I wanted those kind of lenses. My last optometrist nodded in agreement when I said I shoot competitively and hunt. He is a biggest believer in safety lenses for those who shoot.

  • Somebody was watching over you! It doesn’t get any closer than that!

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Phil, I’m just thankful that the Oakley’s took the ricochet and nothing else happened beyond that. I hope the young fellows in question learned a lesson, too ( they sound as if they were in shock, so I am sure they did ). It could have been much, much worse.

    • Yes indeed a lot worse. I’m sure they did learn that lesson well. It did scare them after we talked and they fully understood what had happened. They weren’t bad young men they just used poor judgement.

  • Josh

    Thanks for sharing. I always wear safety glasses, but I think its time to invest in some quality eye protection.

  • Slovko

    I’ve had two potentially seriously ricochets incidents in my lifetime from lead splashback. The first as a teenager from my own .45 which left a good gash on my forehead for several weeks. The other just a few years ago at an indoor range where I caught some splashback from another guys .357 magnum. Had either hit my eye, they would almost certainly have caused serious injury or permanent blindness.

  • A paper towel will scratch a lens though.