Why proper glasses can improve your shooting

A number of different problems can affect the quality of your shooting, and Ed Lyons highlights three cases with varying issues that have arisen recently

Roy Cherry is a top shot that is now seeing coloured targets much more effectively

In the last issue, we looked at an approach for tackling colour vision problems using the Colorimeter and explored a rather interesting path that culminated in creating a lovely set of bright green lenses for Dave Stanbrook. Since then, another DTL shooter, Gordon Duguid, got in touch and has also benefited from the new green lenses.

Prior to making my own, I had often thought it would be advantageous for a shooting glasses manufacturer to create a lens specifically for certain types of colour deficiency, then Randolph Engineering brought out the Medium HD.

This has been my go-to product for assisting red-green colour blindness in prescription and non-prescription options, and was my first choice when I had a call from England and Britain shooter Roy Cherry.

I had never met Roy before but had heard a lot about him from Ed Solomons, who told me what a good shot and all round nice guy he was, and how he was having difficulty with orange and pink targets.

We arranged to meet at Northampton Shooting Ground and shoot the All Round 100-bird registered competition. I packed a series of Ranger, Pilla, Oakley and Custom lenses that would give a broad spectrum for us to analyse when looking at the orange clays at the ground, plus a couple of pink targets rescued from Weston Wood to ensure the chosen lens or lenses were not just orange-specific.

Andrew Lea’s glasses are unusual but they work

What does it mean?

  • Long-sighted – the prescription value will have a positive value like +2.50
  • Short-sighted  the prescription will have a negative value, say, -3.50 for a moderate strength power
  • Astigmatism – a difference in the curvature of the lens or the cornea of the eye

Roy always had difficulty picking out orange and pink targets, especially against a green or earthy background. Known for being a fast shot, he had developed a method of shooting the blur in order to get on to orange clays, but at a recent competition he hadn’t even pulled the trigger on some clays as he couldn’t ascertain whether the clay had been sent or not.

For anyone wishing to progress in their shooting, this would be troublesome. For someone who has shot at the highest level, it was becoming a psychological issue.

I had some personal lenses in the car, including a small number of Pillas and some Randolph lenses, and using those, we tested out what colours had a positive effect. I then sent Roy a series of lenses and he narrowed it down to the Dark Purple and Medium HD tints.

After a chat with Fay Stephenson from York Guns, we were able to supply Roy with a brand new set of Randolph Falcons to replace his older kit and Roy is delighted with the results. He said: “I cant believe the difference its made.

I can actually see things now, and am kicking myself for leaving it so long before I asked for some help. I’d shot well with my old glasses, but the difference compared to what I have now is night and day. In actual fact, I’m almost seeing them too well, and it’s going to take a while to get used to being able to see them so quickly.”

Prescription perfect

Start missing targets you normally hit? That might
mean your prescription has changed in your
weaker eye, just like Clive Bailye

Andrew Lea is an excellent shooter but needs a hefty prescription in his shooting glasses to get his vision just right. It is nice to get a challenge, and Andrew’s prescription certainly is that.

Most people will generally either be long-sighted or have astigmatism and this will be positive or negative expressed with the term CYL. You can also be short-sighted.

I am pretty short-sighted, with a prescription around -6.50. In real terms, this means that if I take my contact lenses out, my range of clear vision is about 10cm away. This is great for doing fiddly things like removing splinters, but not much else.

Contact lenses are a great option for higher prescriptions, as those of us who need this sort of correction may end up with heavy chunky lenses in our glasses, or may not be able to get suitable glasses at all.

With the Pilla prescription program, I have dealt with some fairly complex lenses. Andrew needed something a bit more specialist. The Randolph Sporter (supplied by York Guns) is a fantastic product for either low or extreme prescriptions. It is light and strong and available in two sizes.

One of the things is the simple but effective clip-on system. This means that only one set of bespoke lenses has to be made and then the tint side of things can be taken care of relatively economically.

I have supplied prescription eyewear to shooters from 26 countries, and while it is not always possible, if the client has a high or complex requirement, I prefer to meet them in person.

Andrew and I met and discussed the lens options, looked at tint choice and finally took the necessary measurements. The glasses were then sent off to have the special digitally-surfaced lenses made, and they turned out well.

Later, Andrew said: “After years of shooting I finally decided to have some proper precision glasses made. Considering my high prescription, I had not had shooting glasses previously. Ed was able to tailor a glasses solution to me that suited me perfectly and that allowed me to see the target in all light conditions.”

Hocus pocus focus

The Falcon system Roy uses is a one-piece lens that has an array of tints available

If a right-handed shooter had a straight-forward, high acuity right eye, and a slightly less-able left eye, it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem, especially for English Skeet. If they were shooting off the shoulder aligned with the weaker eye, it stands to reason that would be more likely to cause an issue.

Occasionally, I have a client that requires some outside-the-box thinking. This was the case with another of Dave Beardsmore’s students, Clive Bailye, at the beginning of the year.

I had worked with Clive before, and while the left eye saw well with a corrective lens, we had previously decided he did not require any prescription lenses for shooting as the right eye was excellent on its own, so we simply provided regular glasses for computer and reading.

This worked for 18 months or so, but it was during a lesson that a new issue started to occur. According to Dave: “Clive was training with tight chokes and started to miss way out in from the low targets from stations one, two, three and four – a classic sign of an eye issue. He had lost his normal sight picture and was finding the new picture had become confused.”

Did you know?

A number of top Skeet shooters close an eye at some point throughout the shot, or use some form of occlusion, to avoid cross dominance issues that might lead to costly misses.

When Clive came back to see me, the prescription results were similar to his previous visit, but the left eye had dropped off the pace a little more.

With a long-sighted person, eyes tend to focus through the error by changing the shape of the lens inside. This is called accommodation and becomes more difficult after the age of 40 or so (typically when we begin to require reading glasses).

When there is a large disparity between the two eyes, this accommodative process can become compromised. We found that as Clive’s left eye was trying to focus through the blur, it was throwing the right eye off, disrupting the overall binocular picture.

We elected to actively improve the vision in the left eye, with the goal of making the entire picture more stable, using an insert for the glasses. Clive already had to keep the cost down if it wasn’t successful but there was no need to worry, as Clive said: “I’ve shot Skeet with Dave today and hit 24, 25, 25 and 25. I think you nailed the glasses – first time I’ve shot this well since Christmas.”

Our next step was to move away from the insert and open up the visual field with full prescription lenses as seen in the photographs. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Clive progresses this year.

More on vision from Clay Shooting Magazine

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Posted in Advice and tips, Ask the Experts, Coaching, Skeet, Sporting, Trap

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