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 retired as associate editor since December 14th 2017. My replacement is my friend Pete M email: [email protected] you can reach Pete for product reviews etc.