Dedicated Shooting Glasses And
Clean Glass Help Make The Shot
By Dave Anderson
Let’s start with the most important set of optics you’ll ever possess—the ones you were born with. One way to protect your eyes is with regular checkups with an optometrist. Based on my own experience I recommend an occasional check by an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor) trained in detecting and correcting serious eye problems.
Nowadays using lasers these doctors can do amazing things, such as (in my case) repairing small retinal tears before they lead to a detached retina.
Wearing quality sunglasses can help prevent or slow the progression of cataracts. It hardly needs saying; wear protective glasses, goggles or a face shield when operating power tools such as grinders, drills, chain saws and firearms. Short of some kind of life-saving emergency, I would never fire a shot without eye protection.
I’ve worn eyeglasses to correct near-sightedness since about age six. I guess this is good in one way, since even at cap- and BB-gun ages I already had eye protection. The flip side is, until recently, I never got around to using proper shooting glasses.
Certainly I advise wearing protective glasses for any kind of shooting. But centerfire rifles… we can be talking of pressures in the range of 65,000 psi just a few inches in front of your eyes. If the gases ever get loose the glasses may well save your eyesight.
Somewhere along the way glasses including sunglasses, shooting glasses, and (you knew it was coming) “tactical” glasses became very cool accessories. Since I need my shooting glasses prescription ground, I can’t just buy off the shelf. Some makers offer the option of prescription lenses or inserts, though it always seems like an afterthought.
I first learned of Tactical Rx, a Denver-based company and division of Sports Optical, in the May 2013 issue of GUNS, and then again in the “Insider” column of American Handgunner (and more recently, did an AH column on these new glasses). Coincidentally, I had just had my eyes tested and prescription renewed. It seemed a good time to shop for new shooting glasses.
Tactical Rx specializes in helping shooters who need corrective lenses for eyesight problems. I must say it is a pleasure working with people who understand and can help those of us who don’t have perfect vision.
Although my own issue is nearsightedness, other aspects such as peripheral vision, speed and accuracy of focusing, adaptability to light changes and so forth aren’t a problem. As one optometrist told me, “You have good eyes, you just can’t see very well.” Which was some comfort I guess.
A particular issue is shooting rifles from the prone position, as in F-Class competition. With my regular glasses I look through the top of the glasses, either introducing distortion at the edges of the lens, or having my vision blocked by the top of the frame.
As an aside, one of the myths of rifle shooting is you must have superior eyesight to be a really good shot. Now I can see it would be an advantage for a military or police sharpshooter to have good eyesight, as circumstances might make it necessary to get along without glasses. But for most of us, less-than-perfect vision isn’t an obstacle to top-level shooting provided it can be corrected.
These shooting glasses from Tactical Rx are on Randolph Engineering Sporter frames.
The large lenses made of tough polycarbonate provide excellent protection and a very
sharp image right to the edges. Clip-on lenses are brown for sunny conditions, light
yellow for overcast days or shooting indoors. The rifle is a Tikka T3 Heavy Barrel
.308 Win with Nightforce Competition 15-55×52 scope.
Tactical Rx carry frames from respected makers such as Smith Elite, Randolph Engineering, Rudy Project, Oakley, Wiley-X and others. In a service I especially appreciated, Kyle made some frame suggestions, then sent samples I could try for fit and appearance. Once you make your selection, return them and they will make and install lenses in the frame of your choice.
The “Sporter” frames from Randolph Engineering provide excellent protection and versatility. I ordered them with clear lenses. On a trip, for example, my shooting glasses can double as a backup if my regular glasses get damaged. There’s an array of clip-on lenses with various tints—I selected a brown lens for bright daylight, and a medium yellow for heavy overcast days or indoor ranges.
The real magic, though, is in the production of the lenses. By the use of what they call a “double top secret” optical formula, they can grind lenses to give a distortion-free view across the whole field, right out to the edges.
Tactical Rx hand-grinds the lenses in their shop. Lenses are made from a high-index, very tough polycarbonate so they can be strong, yet light and reasonably thin. Whatever they do, it works. I can say categorically I see better with these glasses than I have since I first started wearing glasses, more than 60 years ago.
After a few years of having handgun sights get fuzzier, and shooting results getting worse, it is such a joy to see the sights sharp and crisp again. With a rifle, shooting accuracy wasn’t the problem, the issue was having to use the center of the lens for best results. The large, edge-to-edge sharpness of the shooting glasses lets me shoot better from prone or improvised rests in the field, while providing better eye protection.
The quality of service at Tactical Rx is unsurpassed. I am shooting better and enjoying it more. Tactical Rx has added years to my shooting life, and believe me I am grateful!
The Outdoor Pro kit comes in a neat nylon case with everything needed to keep
your sports optics clean. Kit contains the standard and MiniPro LensPens,
anti-fog cleaning cloth, and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
The cleaning element of the LensPen contains a non-liquid carbon cleaner to
safely remove fingerprints and other stubborn substances from lenses. The cap
contains more of the carbon cleaner so the cleaning element is renewed each
time the cap is replaced.
Keep It Clean
For optimum performance, optics need to be kept clean, free of dust, grit, oily fingerprint marks and scratches. A good way to reduce the need for cleaning lenses is to not let them get dirty in the first place.
Especially with camera lenses, but also with scopes and binoculars, I believe in using lens caps whenever possible. With camera lenses and scopes I like to use lens hoods when I can, which not only tends to improve image quality but also protects the lens to some extent.
When lenses do need cleaning I like to follow a three-step process. If there’s a lot of surface dust the first step is to use a bulb blower. I don’t use compressed air cans on lenses, though they can be handy for blowing dust off of guns and other gear.
The next step is to use a soft, clean brush to remove any remaining surface dust. Sometimes this is as far as you need to go. If there are, for example, dried water marks or fingerprints on the lens, I generally use lens cleaning paper and fluid bought from a camera store (no preference in brands). Microfiber cloths work as well. I clean my eyeglasses with one a dozen times a day, but prefer one-time use tissue for camera lenses.
More recently I began using the LensPen and wish I’d began using it long ago. The LensPen has a soft retractable brush at one end. The real magic is the cleaning element at the other end, protected by a cap when not in use.
Apparently the cleaning element contains some kind of carbon non-liquid cleaner. The protective cap contains more of this carbon cleaner, so the cleaning element is replenished after use when the cap is replaced. I found the system is fast, effective, and doesn’t leave streaks as the fluid/lens tissue sometimes does.
One source says the supply is sufficient for about 500 cleanings, so even a professional photographer cleaning lenses before every assignment should get a year or so of use. For us regular scope and bino owners one LensPen should last several years. Heck, I’ll most likely lose it before it wears out and in any case they are not expensive.
The Outdoor Pro kit has both the regular size and MiniPro LensPen, an anti-fog cloth and a microfiber cleaning cloth, all in a compact carrying case all for $34.95. The LensPens alone are $14.95.
650-375 Water Street
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6B 5C6
4337 Tennyson St.
Denver, CO, 80212