Selecting Protective Eyewear for Shooting Sports
Understand the basics, details, and variables to determine which shooting glasses are best for you
CANTON, MA (June 15, 2022) – Protective eyewear is a must for anyone actively using firearms. Whether hunting, plinking or target shooting, proper safety eyewear will help protect your eyes from common hazards like ejected casings, as well as less-common but potentially more-severe threats resulting from catastrophic firearms failures. Understand that while shooting eyewear should always be selected for its protective qualities first, other variables can actually help to improve visual acuity and, ultimately, shooting performance.
Selecting shooting sports eyewear should always begin with the consideration of impact resistance, and an understanding that your standard eyeglasses or sunglasses probably don’t provide enough protection. Safety eyewear must conform to a higher standard of impact resistance than regular eyeglasses and sunglasses. This higher standard applies to both the lenses and the frames.
In the United States, safety glasses are tested to ensure they meet or exceed the ANSI Z87.1 standard. This standard is established and periodically updated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Eyewear with this key certification has passed basic-impact testing (both frames and lenses) and is marked “Z87” on the temples. Prescription safety eyewear which has met or exceeded ANSI Z87 standards is marked “Z87-2”. Finally, safety eyewear marked “Z87+” has lenses that have passed high-impact testing.
Shooting sports enthusiasts don’t need to spend a lot for top-quality shooting glasses. Howard Leight UVEX Genesis eyewear meets ANSI Z87.1-2015 high-impact standards, as well as the Military V0 ballistic test for impact. Available with clear, amber, or vermillion wraparound uni-lenses, Genesis features a soft and flexible ventilated brow guard, plus adjustable temples and nose piece for maximum comfort and a customized fit. Retail price is around $15.
In the world of safety eyewear, “ballistic-rated” means military-grade impact protection. Such safety eyewear is designed and tested to survive the U.S. military’s high-speed impact and fragmentation standards, which exceed ANSI Z87.1 high-impact standards. Military V0 ballistic-rated eyewear must be able to withstand up to a .15 caliber projectile fired at the lens and frame at 64 feet per second.
In addition to choosing shooting glasses that have been tested, certified and marked to meet ANSI Z87.1 standards, fit is an important consideration that affects both comfort and performance. Look for comfortable wraparound designs that fit close to the face and afford ample side protection. Such designs minimize the potential for ejected casings – often from adjacent shooting lanes at the range – to find their way between the face and the lens. Wraparound frame designs also typically fit well and provide the most comfort with popular earmuff-style hearing protection.
Good shooting glasses should sharpen visual acuity, not hamper it. Unfortunately, poor materials, engineering or production methods can result in shooting glasses with compromised optical quality.
“Poor optical quality can result in visual distortion, lack of visual clarity or a narrowed field of view,” says Nancy Kufferman, Senior Offering Manager for Honeywell Howard Leight. “Similar to putting on a pair of eyeglasses that are the wrong prescription, these conditions can cause the wearer’s eyes to work harder by straining to overcome the distortion, even when the distortion is not immediately apparent. The result can range from a simple reduction in shooting performance to headaches and – even worse – long-term vision damage.”
Unfortunately for consumers, there are no established universal standards that regulate the optical quality of safety eyewear, so shooting sports enthusiasts are well-served to choose their safety eyewear from a reputable and well-established manufacturer. Howard Leight Shooting Sports Uvex eyewear offers superior optical clarity derived from quality materials and decades of documented excellence in engineering and production.
Lens Color and Coatings
Aside from impact resistance, fit and optical quality, a variety of other factors can contribute to the overall performance of shooting sports eyewear. Lens tints and coatings are chief among such factors and can help optimize visual acuity in different situations.
Clear lenses offer the highest possible light transmission, making them suitable and highly popular choices for most indoor and outdoor shooting environments. A reflecting clear lens like the SCT-Reflect 50 Mirror lens tint offered by Howard Leight counters glare that can cause eye strain and is ideal for transitioning from indoors to outdoors.
Amber-tinted lenses are a wonderful all-around choice for waterfowling, other wingshooting, and clay games. They help to improve contrast and depth perception so smaller, fast-flying targets can be picked up and tracked more easily. They’re also great for use at outdoor rifle or pistol ranges, especially beneath overcast skies. Next to clear, amber lenses have the best visible light transmission at about 90 percent, which is why they perform so well in low-light conditions.
Orange lens tints absorb blue and green light to help reduce eye fatigue. This makes orange lenses a good option for extended wear during all-day hunts or range outings. This tint also reduces haze and glare, making it a popular tint for many outdoor shooting situations.
Vermillion lenses may be the very best choice for sporting clays, trap or skeet. The tint accentuates orange colors, helping the eyes lock in on fast-flying orange clay targets. This attribute shines when the targets are flying against a busy backdrop full of trees and vegetation, which is very common on many sporting clays courses.
Beyond lens tint, lens coatings further improve performance. The most common forms of lens coatings guard against harmful ultraviolet rays, scratches that can send an otherwise good set of protective eyewear to the trash can prematurely, and also protect against fogging that hinders clear vision.
Fogging is a common problem shooters face. Lenses fog for a number of reasons, all of which are related to temperature and humidity. When sudden changes in temperature occur, small pockets of moisture condense on the lens, causing a hazy-white fog to form. Howard Leight Uvex eyewear employs a proprietary dual-action HYDROSHIELD anti-fog lens coating to provide up to 90X longer-lasting fog-free performance – even after extended wear and repeated cleanings, and with no extra maintenance.
All Howard Leight Shooting Sports Uvex eyewear provides 99.9% UVA/UVB protection. They also feature an additional ANTI-SCRATCH Hardcoat for long-lasting scratch-resistance against scuffs, scrapes and abrasions that can impair one’s ability to aim and shoot accurately.
“Beyond ballistic impact resistance, key performance characteristics like optical quality, lens coatings that perform under the harshest conditions, task-specific lens tints that optimize visual acuity in different situations, and frame designs that contribute to fit and comfort are all things that have helped to make the Honeywell Uvex® brand the world’s top-selling line of protective eyewear,” Kufferman says. “We’ve taken what we’ve learned from decades in the industrial safety markets and made these same benefits available to shooting sports enthusiasts within our diverse range of Howard Leight Shooting Sports Uvex eyewear models, which has earned accolades and gratitude from shooting sports enthusiasts around the world. We offer high-quality options for affordable, comfortable, great-fitting shooting-sports eyewear that will protect your vision and enhance your performance.”
To see the full lineup of Howard Leight shooting sports eyewear, visit howardleightshootingsports.com.
ABOUT HONEYWELL HOWARD LEIGHT
Honeywell Safety Products empower individuals and families across the globe to enjoy more and worry less. Our high-quality hearing and eye protection help people to more safely enjoy the events and activities they love. Our broad selection of comfortable and stylish protective eyewear delivers safety without compromise, many of which meet ANSI high-impact standards and offer UVA/UVB protection. Building on over 30 years of innovation, we’re continually developing new designs, materials and technologies to enhance comfort and protection for industry trade professionals, recreational and competitive shooters, DIY homeowners, and all fans of live music and sporting events. Whatever your passion, trust Howard Leight to block out the noise so you can listen to what’s important, while staying safely focused on the big moments that matter. Learn more at howardleightshootingsports.com.