Reduced vision shooting

I wear glasses. Without them, I cannot see very well.

A couple weeks ago I read something from Phil Wong. Phil also wears glasses, and shares similar realities and concerns regarding glasses, vision, and being in a fight.

So Phil shot the MAG-40 qualification course. He did pretty well, tho a bit slower.

In November 2013, I shot the qualification course of fire for the Massad Ayoob Group MAG-40 class with my Glock 19, OEM Meprolight night sights, and non-prescription lenses in my shooting glasses, in front of about 25-30 students, staff instructors, and Massad F. Ayoob himself – just to see how I might be able to shoot under pressure without my corrective lenses. My final score was 297/300, which means that I had zero misses and only 3 shots outside of the A-zone of a standard IPSC cardboard target, over 60 shots fired at distances between 4 yards and 15 yards. I wasn’t nearly as fast as Mas and the other instructors, but I met the allotted time limits and still got the hits on target. Honestly, the hardest thing to do was to make sure I shot the right target – I had to consciously count targets from the end of the line before each string of fire, to distinguish between my target and a couple dozen other identical targets. As long as I don’t get attacked by a bad guy wearing the exact same clothes as an innocent bystander, I should be OK…

Years ago I put some thought and work into this, and tried solutions like XS Big Dot sights. The thinking there that if I lost my glasses in a fight, I could still see the front sight. Nope – still can’t see the big dot without my glasses. So while I did some work here and there, I mostly relegated myself to “just dealing with it”.

But it’s been a while. I’ve improved my skill greatly since those days. And “fighting without my glasses” came back to my mind a few weeks ago during the Cecil Burch classes, since I did most of that weekend without my glasses.

I’m going to give this a try next range trip. Phil’s one of Mas’ guys so shooting the MAG qualifier make sense. I’m one of Karl Rehn’s guys, so I’ll probably shoot “3 Seconds or Less“.

Have you given this much thought or practice?

Don’t have your glasses or contacts, can you perform? What if you don’t have a limb, like say you break your right arm, can you perform with your left? Or what if say you lost vision in one eye, can you perform with the other?

This isn’t to say we need to practice up hard on those skills in the off-chance something happens. But it can’t hurt to spend a practice session to tinker with those things for whatever they might tell you. Maybe you find out some weak-hand-only work would be good for you. Maybe you learn that your eyes have aged more than you thought and a different sight system may be in order.

A quick check now and again can be good for you.

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4 thoughts on “Reduced vision shooting

  1. As it happens, I did the same MAG-40 qualification with non-prescription shooting glasses again, about 2 weeks prior to this post – this time, I scored 299/300, so I guess my skills are improving also. ;^)

    I also changed sights, from the OEM Meprolights to Heinie 3-dot tritium sights, and the sight picture was improved enough that my group size was significantly smaller laterally, and I was able to shoot at the same pace as another instructor shooting the qual next to me. I did have a fair amount of vertical stringing because I couldn’t focus on the top edge of the front sight without my prescription glasses, but the bigger light bars afforded by the thinner front sight and wider rear notch of the Heinies were a big help.

    • Interesting data points.

      One thing I do like about my Dawson’s is “more light”. 0.100″ front and 0.125″ rear and the amount of light on either side is a huge help — even with my glasses on.

      This past Saturday, we had a student with a set of those Dead Ringer Snake Eyes sights. I’ve only seen them a few times and generally the results haven’t been good. But man if this guy wasn’t drilling everything. Myself and another instructor played with the gun a little bit and gee if I don’t have my opinion changing on those sights. I’m not sure I’d recommend them in general, but this guy — he’s got aged eyes, strong prescription, and found these sights worked well for him. And the proof was there all day as he shot. Of course, it’s a data point of 1, but still it’s got me curious enough to wonder if these could be viable sights as our eyes age.

      • That’s an interesting concept, although I have some reservations about the ghost ring rear being so tall, and the orange FO cross-hairs ring possibly distracting a novice shooter from the front sight.

        As you say though, if my vision gets so bad with age that I can’t use Patridge-type iron sights anymore, these might be the thing…

        • For sure it’s a busy sight picture, but it actually worked pretty well. BUT as you allude to, is that because I know better and what to look for? and would a novice just be overwhelmed and confused?

          Don’t know, but best I can say right now is my interest is perked.

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