Georgina Roberts tries the latest vision training kit, and offers an exercise of her own to sharpen up your eyesight for shooting.
Vision training is arguably one of the most important exercises we can do in sport, especially in shooting – and yet it’s the one that’s most often overlooked, even more than the other aspects of physical and mental training.
We tend to take our vision for granted, but our shooting performance and results rely heavily on our eyes – we rely on them to perceive the target and its flight path.
You can have the perfect movement throughout a shot but still miss the target because the gun is in the wrong place, or you pull the trigger at the wrong time. We use our eyes and vision to decide when and where that right time and place is – which is why our vision is so incredibly important in shooting.
Like many other shooters I have a 9-5 job; I work as a digital publisher, which means that I spend hours at my desk working from multiple screens. That doesn’t give my eyes the workout they need to perform at their best when I’m shooting, so I use a variety of vision training exercises to develop muscles in my eyes that I don’t normally use, as well as strengthening my vision depth, perception and eye teamwork.
There are many ways we can train our vision at home. For example, you can work on developing your saccades – that’s the technical term for the rapid eye movement from one point of fixation to the next.
In shooting that equates to your eyes moving quickly and effortlessly from the hold point (or pick-up point for Sporting shooters) to the target. Here’s one exercise that I do at home, to develop my ability to see the target clearly as early as possible.
To complete this training exercise, you would of course ideally be using your gun, although you could substitute in a stick that is similar in length. Then you’ll need a marker stick attached horizontally on top of the barrels, as you can see in my photo.
The marker stick should be lightweight, and between 80 and 100cm long (approximately 3 feet). You can attach the marker stick to your barrels with tape or string, but obviously you’ll need to take care not to use anything that might damage the blueing. Pad the point of contact with a small piece of cloth or tissue if you’re worried about marking the rib.
Now place markers along the stick to left and right of the rib – you can see that I used clothes pegs but stickers, nails or similar would also work. The first markers should be around 12cm (a little under 5ins) from the centre point, with the next markers at roughly 12cm intervals.
Now for the exercise. Mount the gun and, starting on one side, move your eyes from marker to marker, starting with 1 and working out to 3 – only pausing to let your eyes adjust and ensuring that you see the marker clearly.
Make sure that whilst doing so, you keep your head still on the stock (or on the piece of wood that you’re using to simulate the gun). This ensures that your eyes are doing all the work. Then repeat the exercise on the other side.
To complete this exercise, do 10 repetitions each side; as your eyes become stronger you can complete more repetitions.
Ed Lyons Vision Training Kit
There are plenty of other ways to train your vision at home. I’m fortunate to have got my hands on one of the new vision training kits from Ed Lyons, which has really benefited my training during lockdown.
This kit now has a weekly spot in my training programme; aside from being meaningful training, it’s fun and engaging, so it’s become a firm favourite in my routine. I should point out that this kit wasn’t supplied free, so these are my unbiased opinions.
The kit comes with different tools, including a Brock string, Fusion cards and Hart charts, as well as access to a Senaptec training app. The app includes six ‘games’ which are operated from a tablet and a mobile device. It covers six areas of vision: hand-eye coordination, dynamic vision, perception training, spatial memory, near far shift and visual search.
This app has been designed brilliantly – it’s very interactive, and it has a competitive edge. Each training stage has a leaderboard which features the scores of other customers in the programme, meaning you can train alongside others and try to beat their scores.
The combination of these tools and techniques is certainly impactful but it can also be tiring. For maximum benefit I really have to focus and apply myself, which is how I know it’s effective.
More on vision from Clay Shooting Magazine
- Tips on improving vision for clay shooting
- Persistence of Vision: Pt 1
- Solutions for eye dominance problems
- Why proper glasses can improve your shooting
- Something in your eye? How to combat floaters