I can see clearly now the game has come

We take care to pro­tect our hear­ing but many guns risk eye dam­age. A good pair of glasses will of­fer pro­tec­tion – and could im­prove your vi­sion in the field

The Field - - CONTENT - writ­ten BY sarah prat­ley

The im­por­tance of good shoot­ing glasses, out­lined by Sarah Prat­ley

The Clay Pi­geon Shoot­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s rul­ing for hear­ing pro­tec­tion is clear: “The wear­ing of recog­nised and pur­pose­made hear­ing pro­tec­tion prod­ucts is com­pul­sory.” When it comes to eye pro­tec­tion, how­ever, the rules are rather less strict. “The ap­pro­pri­ate wear­ing of ad­e­quate and ef­fec­tive vis­i­ble eye pro­tec­tion… is manda­tory.” Eye pro­tec­tion must be worn but it needn’t be strin­gently “recog­nised and pur­pose-made”; “ad­e­quate” will suf­fice.

This lack of strict reg­u­la­tion is cer­tainly not due to low risk. A shard of clay or stray pel­let could cause ir­repara­ble dam­age, as could a gun mal­func­tion. Th­ese are not un­com­mon oc­cur­rences in the field and need only hap­pen once for ir­re­versible dam­age to be done.

Sim­ply wear­ing glasses does not guar­an­tee pro­tec­tion; shoot­ing eyewear re­quires a high level of im­pact re­sis­tance. The CPSA rec­om­mends a min­i­mum stan­dard: BS.EN.166.2002, the Euro­pean Stan­dard for per­sonal eye pro­tec­tion, but this is no more than a friendly sug­ges­tion. Pay at­ten­tion to the ma­te­rial, says Sun­glasses for Sport man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Den­zil Lee. “The key, crit­i­cal thing is that the lens must be made of poly­car­bon­ate or Trivex. A 2mm poly­car­bon­ate lens pro­vides a very high de­gree of pro­tec­tion, whether from a shard of clay or a pel­let.”

im­pact re­sis­tance

Poly­car­bon­ate is favoured by most sports eyewear man­u­fac­tur­ers. It has 20 times the im­pact re­sis­tance of glass and is shat­ter­proof. Po­larised lenses are to be avoided and are not re­quired for shoot­ing, as light is po­larised when it re­flects off a sur­face such as snow, Tar­mac or wa­ter. “Most sub-£50 po­larised sun­glasses use a ma­te­rial called TAC. This is thin, around 1mm, and does not pro­vide full im­pact pro­tec­tion,” ex­plains Lee. Pre­scrip­tion glasses are also to be con­sid­ered with care. “Just about ev­ery pre­scrip­tion lens made by an op­ti­cian uses a ma­te­rial called

CR39 – this does not pro­vide im­pact pro­tec­tion and it will shat­ter.”

The best take their safety test­ing se­ri­ously. Evo­lu­tion, Sun­glasses for Sport’s own-la­bel brand, all have 2mm poly­car­bon­ate lenses and some are 2.5mm. Iconic sports eyewear brand Oak­ley meets or ex­ceeds the test­ing stan­dards of the Amer­i­can Na­tional Stan­dards In­sti­tu­tion and some of its mod­els meet mil­i­tary stan­dards, which are much more strin­gent. The ma­jor­ity of high-pro­file shoot­ers use Pilla Per­for­mance Eyewear, the glasses of which are sub­ject to rig­or­ous test­ing. They must meet or ex­ceed mul­ti­ple Amer­i­can Na­tional Stan­dards, in­clud­ing the ANSI Z87.1 high-im­pact test, which spec­i­fies that the lens must be able to with­stand the blunt im­pact of a 500g steel mis­sile, dropped from a height of more than 4ft. For CEO Philip Pilla, the strin­gent tests are of ut­most im­por­tance. “Func­tion is first, this is the hall­mark of the brand.”

Glasses should be worn for pro­tec­tion first and fore­most but they can also as­sist per­for­mance. Pilla was one of the first to bring bal­lis­tics and op­tics to­gether. “Safety glasses have al­ways been avail­able but the re­al­ity is that they were de­fi­cient op­ti­cally,” says Pilla. “There was an op­por­tu­nity. For years, im­pact re­sis­tance and op­ti­cal qual­ity were at odds. Pilla was one of the first to of­fer the op­ti­mum from a bal­lis­tic and op­ti­cal point of view.”

Guns don’t have a hope if they can’t see prop­erly. The hu­man eye per­forms at its best when the proper amount of light en­ters it. Too much light re­sults in squint­ing to re­tard the bright­ness, too lit­tle leaves the eye strain­ing. Both cause eye fa­tigue, loss of crisp hand/eye co­or­di­na­tion and a loss of fo­cus. For the eye to per­form at its best, it needs to be re­laxed. Sim­ply wear­ing sun­glasses will not im­prove your shot, how­ever. There must be a proper bal­ance of colour en­hance­ment for the eye to gauge depth of field. With­out this, it be­comes harder to recog­nise the speed, dis­tance and tra­jec­tory of the tar­get.

Pilla’s lenses ad­dress all th­ese prob­lems, its ad­van­tage be­ing an ex­clu­sive part­ner­ship with Zeiss, world leader in the op­ti­cal and op­to­elec­tronic in­dus­try. Formed in 2012, the part­ner­ship has cre­ated VIVX High-def­i­ni­tion Lenses by Zeiss, cer­ti­fied by the “Z” found on the back of ev­ery dual lens or mask lenses. Pilla’s Light Man­age­ment Tech­nol­ogy is based on reg­u­lat­ing the proper amount of light into the eye and its colour-en­hance­ment sci­ence al­lows the eye to reg­is­ter the com­plete vis­ual colour spec­trum. This gives ac­cu­rate depth per­cep­tion and al­lows the wearer to recog­nise the true flight speed, dis­tance and tra­jec­tory of the tar­get.

see­ing yel­low

The lens colour is also crit­i­cal for as­sist­ing per­for­mance and there are many to choose from. Game shoot­ers of­ten opt for yel­low be­cause, as Lee as­serts, “it’s a high con­trast colour and con­trast is good for any shoot­ing. More im­por­tantly, it’s a light-en­hanc­ing colour that helps on dull win­ter days.” Yel­low fil­ters out blue light that can make fo­cus­ing dif­fi­cult and it is one of only three colours cov­ered by BS:EN:166. The oth­ers are clear and grey. Clear glasses are for im­pact re­sis­tance only. Grey lenses re­duce all light equally and don’t in­crease con­trast, so are best in bright con­di­tions. Al­though not cov­ered by the safety stan­dard, other colours of­fer a per­fectly suf­fi­cient level of pro­tec­tion; what is im­por­tant is to buy glasses from a rep­utable sup­plier made from tested ma­te­ri­als.

How­ever, look be­yond the safety stan­dards and colour choices be­come more in­ter­est­ing. Pur­ple lenses, pop­u­lar with clay busters, are rarely seen in the field. “Pur­ple is called the ‘back­ground neu­traliser’ be­cause it dulls or kills green,” says Lee. “This means you will see any mov­ing ob­ject in­clud­ing gamebirds bet­ter against trees or a grass bank.”

‘There has been a change in ap­petite for game-shoot­ers to wear glasses’

Or­ange is rec­om­mended to game shoot­ers, too. “Or­ange is a high-def­i­ni­tion colour. Ev­ery­thing in the field of vi­sion will be in sharper fo­cus. It also works well in over­cast con­di­tions.” Pur­ple and or­ange are the colours that Steve Scott, Olympic bronze medal­list and dou­ble Com­mon­wealth cham­pion in dou­ble trap, swears by for clay-and game-shoot­ing. “I use pur­ple for a green back­ground against a blue sky and when I’m [clay] shoot­ing abroad that very rarely changes. They make or­ange stand out re­ally well,” says Scott. “When you are on a game-shoot­ing day and it’s over­cast and there’s driz­zle, which are the per­fect con­di­tions, or­ange bright­ens ev­ery­thing and makes ev­ery­thing sharper.”

in the frame

Even the most care­fully cho­sen lenses need a com­ple­men­tary frame. Sun­glasses for Sport rec­om­mends rim­less or frame­less eyewear, de­signed to sit high so as not to in­ter­fere with vi­sion, and wrap­around styles for ex­tra pro­tec­tion from wind and rain. Oak­ley has patented Three-point-fit, where the frame only makes con­tact at the bridge of the nose and be­hind the tem­ples. This keeps per­fect op­ti­cal align­ment while elim­i­nat­ing pres­sure points. Pilla strin­gently tests its frames along­side the lenses. “Zeiss re­quires the en­tire frame en­gi­neer­ing to com­ple­ment the en­gi­neer­ing of the lens so they are tested to de­liver the spec as a unit,” says Pilla. For ev­ery Pilla sys­tem, the lack of in­ter­fer­ence is cru­cial. “When some­one puts on our glasses we can guar­an­tee that they will for­get they are wear­ing them.”

In a sport steeped in tra­di­tion, how­ever, eyewear can look fu­tur­is­tic. “His­tor­i­cally, we have had more ve­loc­ity in the tra­di­tional glasses, such as avi­a­tors,” ex­plains Pilla. “They fit with the ex­pected at­tire of par­tic­i­pa­tion.” Change has been slow but it is hap­pen­ing. “In the past three to five years there has been a change in ap­petite for game shoot­ers to wear glasses.” Pilla has tripled in size ev­ery year, which the com­pany puts down to the qual­ity of the glass and pro­lific shoot­ers us­ing its prod­ucts.

In­deed, Scott is a Pilla devo­tee. “With Pilla glasses it is like go­ing from stan­dard TV to HD TV,” he en­thuses. And Scott is cer­tainly not alone, Pilla out­fits an im­pres­sive sta­ble of cham­pion shoot­ers. Twenty-six­time world cham­pion Ge­orge Dig­weed was in­volved in the de­sign of the orig­i­nal Pan­ther sys­tem, fo­cus­ing on in­ter­change­abil­ity to swap the lenses with­out touch­ing the glass. He now wears the Out­law X6, which are a pop­u­lar choice among the pro­fes­sion­als. World clay-shoot­ing cham­pion Ch­eryl Hall also wears them, as does Olympic cham­pion Richard Faulds.

Pre­dictably, the kit of our best shoot­ers comes at a price. Sun­glasses for Sport is a Pilla Premier Dealer in the UK and it sells the Out­law X7 kits for £570, which in­cludes a frame and three lenses. A sim­i­lar Pan­ther X7 kit costs £460. For Scott, the price is jus­ti­fied. “Pilla are the most ex­pen­sive on the mar­ket but you get what you pay for. They are, in my opin­ion, the best.”

But there are good op­tions for less. “If you are only go­ing on 12 days a year, the cheaper glasses will be just as good,” says Scott. Bollé has glasses for un­der £20 and UVEX and Evo­lu­tion sell mod­els for as lit­tle as £15. The lat­ter is be­lieved to be the cur­rent best­seller by vol­ume in the UK. “It’s per­fectly pos­si­ble to buy good shoot­ing eyewear for un­der £20 – in­deed, we sell plenty at un­der that price,” says Lee. “We have CPSA shoot­ing coaches wear­ing Evo­lu­tion eyewear at un­der £30.”

You only get one pair of eyes but you can im­prove your vi­sion in the field. So make a bold ad­di­tion to your shoot­ing kit. Eyewear will make you a safer and bet­ter shot, even if the lenses don’t quite match your tweeds.

Pilla has teamed up with Zeiss, a world leader in the op­ti­cal and op­to­elec­tronic in­dus­try

Above: or­ange lenses are rec­om­mended for those shoot­ing game. Left: Olympic gold medal­list

Richard Faulds MBE wear­ing Pilla glasses

Evo­lu­tion Ma­trix glasses in pur­ple (right) and or­ange, light yel­low and pur­ple (above). Be­low: poly­car­bon­ate of­fers the best im­pact re­sis­tance

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