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September 05, 2008

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Petzal: On Gun Sights and Eye Doctors

My hearing gave out years ago, but my eyesight held on much longer. However, as the years progressed, I found it harder and harder to focus a scope, and when looking at a red-dot sight, I saw two dots instead of one. (If there had been three dots I simply could have aimed with the middle one.) For a while I could squint and get the dot into focus, but then even that didn’t work, so there it was: Get prescription glasses for shooting.

The way you do this is as follows: Take either your scope sight or red-dot sight to the eye doctor to show him what you have to deal with. Do not attach a firearm to the sight or you will have lots worse problems than your vision. He will give you a prescription. Then you need to have your interpupillary distance measured. My eye doctor doesn’t take this measurement (or do windows) so I got it from the guy who fits me for reading glasses.

You next go to the Decot Company website (sportglasses.com) and look at the styles and colors they offer. (If the name Decot is not familiar, they are probably the oldest and largest supplier of shooting glasses in the business.) Tell them what you want and give them your prescription. I got my glasses in about a week and they have made an incredible difference. Everything is in focus. I see one dot instead of two. I even shoot better than I did.

Now, if only someone would invent a hearing aid that actually works.


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Know what you are saying, Dave...I've got the Hi-Viz sights on my muzzleloader and turkey gun, and I see four (4)! Count 'em, four...in the rear, but at least I know to put the One on the front between that four...(at least there are two on each side)! LOL..

Thanks for the tip when it gets to that stage....(maybe it has?)


None of the old gunfighters needed sights!

.88 Magnum

I'm 31 and that rear sight is getting real fuzzy. What's the average age that this starts happening? I'm turning into my dad waaay too quickly....


Some people (we will call them "men") find that losing your hearing isn't the worst thing that can happen. Several years ago when my grandfather was still alive I sat down to talk to him at a gathering with several people around. When I started to talk, he motioned for me to wait, took his hearing aid out and turned it up. He had turned it down a while before and told me "I don't give a damn what most of these people are talking about."
It can also be a convenient excuse for not hearing what the womenfolk just told you.

Jim in Mo.

I don't know what this interpupilary thing is but as an eyeglass wearer I can say iron sight are the only thing giving me problems. Scopes, red dots no sweat. In fact if I break my glasses out hunting I may stumble to an from my blind but when I look through the scope everythings clear as a bell. I haven't asked other prescription wearers if thats their exprerience.

Clay Cooper

I remember TSgt Paul Turner a team member of the Holloman AFB High power team when I told him we will be shooting 1000 yards on the next match. He looked at me thru his thick glasses and said Clay your nuts, hell I can’t see a speed limit sign until I get right on top of it. By the way He placed 3rd!
Only scopes I can look thru now in my Leopold and Sightron!
There is life after 50 but you’re I sight starts to go.

Del in KS


Eight years ago I spent 3200 bucks for inside the ear hearing aids. Quit using them after about a year because they irritated my ears and they also amplified background noise so I still could not understand the tv.
Recently I had to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist about my broken nose. She noticed my bad hearing and fitted me for new hearing aids that are fantastic. Made by VOZ they are tiny and don't irritate the ear hole. She programed them on her computer so they only amplify the frequencies you can't hear. Now I can understand what everyone is saying. After seeing how good I hear with them my wife didn't even blink when I said $4800 bucks for two of them. Mind you she is a frugal woman and would have hit the roof if it was another gun haha. Anyway check VOZ out. But see a Ear Nose & throat DR not the Wally World hearing aid office. Did that the first time and wasted 3200 bucks.
BTW any of you guys interested in some slightly used hearing aids?

Del in KS

About the eyes I got sick and tired of glasses that fog up at the worst of times. Went to Discover vision and had Lazer eye surgery. They can fix one eye for reading and one for distance. They can show you how your eyes will be after the surgery. I decided to have both eyes set for distance because it made my distant vision even better. I can still read this message without reading glasses but do use them to read the newspaper. My shooting has stayed about the same but I don't miss the bifocals at all. Oh, he lazik was $2050.


My solution was to make sure you get a scope with the "astigmatism" adjustment. If you don't know (and for many years I didn't), its the ring on the front of the scope marked something like "0 -> [symbol for infinity]. For my air rifle and my Remington this works.

For 88Magnum; Actually that sounds correct. To this day I remember from my Corps training: "Sight alignment is when the clear tip of the front sight post is halfway up, and centered from left to right, in the fuzzy rear sight aperture".

Dr. Ralph

Old age is not for sissies... Can't hear the deer, can't see them until you pull your gun up and look through the scope which IS adjustable, and then your atrophied muscles can't hold on target as well. Two choices: Kill yourself now before you have to start wearing diapers or accept the facts and make the best of what you have. Remember that some people in the prime of their lives are not as good as you are in a seriously degenerative state... American Primitive indeed!

lost my zero

in 2004 I got hydrocephalus from a brain tumor.it was removed in 2005, a "hemioblastoma". now I have double vision, corrected with glasses. my balance is terrible, use a cane or walker to get around.hopefully I can go deer hunting again someday. sigh

Dave Petzal

To Del in KS: My experience with $3,500 digital, computer-tuned hearing aids was so wretched that I will need direct endorsement from God before I buy another pair. A friend of mine who reads this blog has had the tiny, in-the-ear aids for a number of months and loves them. I am skeptical. And as ricefarm says, who gives a damn what most people say anyway?


As best as I can remember none of the old gunfighters ever lived to be old except for Wyatt Earp. Must be another or two I'll have to look it up.
Fortunately I am one of the few who can tolerate monovision contact lenses. One eye sees up close while the other focuses at distant objects. Some people get used to this concept and it works quite well. I have had this process in place for a dozen or so years with little in the way of problems. The small problem is that old deal of seeing the front pistol sight and somehow making out where the target is located. To improve this situaiton my optometrist devised a different set of contact lens which are indicated on my chart as "for pistol shooting only". I always have to explain this to the receptionist when I pick up a couple new boxes of lenses. My Decots are ancient and have no prescription built in since I can't see a damn thing without one set of contacts or the other. I saw Cher on TV a few weeks ago and of course she looks as good as ever after considerable plastic surgery even at 62. She was asked how it feels to be getting old. Her reply was "It sucks". My feeling exactly.

Jack Ryan

eh? Hold that page still.


My best friend when I was a kid had a rare condition that made it impossible for him to close his left eye by itself. He could close both at the same time, or just his right eye, but if he tried to close only his left the right closed as well.

Apparently he didn't tell anyone about his problem until he was ten or eleven, and by that time he had already started to compensate for it.

To shoot a scoped rifle he tilted the rifle to the left and laid over the side of it so he could use his left eye.

I guess he could have learned to shoot a left-handed rifle, but no one had one, and he had a bunch of brothers so his dad wasn't going to buy a gun that only he could use.

I guess he still shoots like that. I haven't seen him in years.


One would think the fellers on here would continue to train to reach the age-appropriate benchmarks of the famous APFT.

Run 3 miles a day, 50 sit-ups, 35 push-ups, and you're good to go in the mountains all day. Don't forget to stretch.

My eyesight's gone a little south (30 years of staring at computer screens while composing liberal media propaganda), but the Leupold compensates easily.

My uncles were both able to hunt fairly hard until they were 70. That gives me another 20 years.


Wow Dave you got me on the squinting adjustment method. I made that work for 50 years and then my eyes fell off the face of the earth. Both slightly different and both required bi-focals...nice!
I got some presritpion glasses from Bausch & Lomb, but with long distance scopes, I still used naked eye and squinting. Two years ago I was stricken with sports injury related detached retina. I understand it occurs like old wallpaper blistering away from the wall, and the treatment is laser spot welding through your pupil.
Anyway, now I've had to get yet another set of prescription shooting glasses, and everything's fine. I will admit that keeping both eyes open with one having increasingly different optical characteristics than the other is a challenge. What I don't have and will never get back is a frame of reference to what my unaided eyesight used to be...all I know now is that I can focus and the right setup and concentration techniques are tried and true.

Duck Creek Dick

The V.A. got me fixed up with two Phonak MicroSavia Art 100 dSZ hearing aids. Wonderful devices for my high frequency hearing loss and you hardly notice having them on. They are engineered in Switzerland and made in Vietnam. A litle ironic that I lost most of my hearing in the latter country.
Is everyone familiar with the N.R.A. salute? That's bringing the right arm up smartly, fingers together and cupped around the ear, saying "huh?".


I am near sighted and wear trifocals. Not really a problem when shooting a shotgun since I barely notice the front bead when pointing the gun at a moving target.

However, it is a problem when trying to aim a hand gun or rifle with open sights. It's not quite so bad with a hand gun. I just tilt my head up a little to look through the middle lens of the trifocal. The rear and front sights are clear, although the target is a little fuzzy.

It's another story with an open sight rifle because I can't tilt my head up and maintain proper alignment of the front and rear sights. Since I also tend to shoot a rifle with both eyes open, I'm thinking about having a set of lenses made with the right lens the same prescription as the center lens of my trifocal to see the sights clearly and the left lens the same prescription as my top lens for distance. Do you think it is worth a try?


Glaucus, son of Sisyphus and Merope, and father of Bellerophon, lived at Potniae nears Thebes where, scorning the power of Aphrodite, he refused to let his mares breed. He hoped by this means to make them more spirited than other contestants in the chariot races which were his chief interest. But Aphrodite was vexed; and complained to Zeus that he had gone so far as to feed the mares on human flesh. When Zeus permitted her to take what action she pleased against Glaucus, she led the mares out by night to drink from a well sacred to herself, and graze on a herb called hippomanes which grew at its lip. This she did just before Jason celebrated the funeral games of Pelias on the seashore at Iolcus; and no sooner had Glaucus yoked the mares to his chariot pole than they bolted, overthrew the chariot, dragged him along the ground entangled in the reins, for the whole length of the stadium, and then ate him alive.


Well, pushing 50 here, Hearing is still good (Always wear ear muffs shooting anything bigger than a BB gun, other than hunting) and sight is OK wearing contacts. The contacts are for distance vision, so reading glasses are needed for close up stuff, or I can take out the contacts and see up to about a foot away clear as a bell, after that things go downhill FAST!
Not up to (down?) the cane or walker stage yet but do have trouble getting around. 200 yds is a long way into the woods for me. The further I can drive my truck into the woods the better!

Never been a one eye shooter, always have both open, I am able to switch back and forth which eye I'm looking thru "most", learned this when I was young. My Dad always insisted on using 2 eyes, said you got 2, use'em! Comes in real handy with a scope, I can be looking mostly thru the scope with sort of seeing the surroundings or concentrate on the left eye and see the whole woods and sort of see the scope view imposed upon this, great if you lose the target in the brush to get back onto the target instead of shrubbery. Then switch back to Rt eye view to shoot.
Your brain is receiving 2 separate images from your eyes and combining them into one, you can learn to separate them as well!
Can't see typical open sights well though, dand rear notch is too small, but a post and rear peep works great! Use a large rear peep/Ghostring and center the top of the front post in the middle of the big fuzzy circle. Works for me.
Handguns have to have 3 dot sights for the same reason, and a large rear notch as well.
The 44 I recently picked up has a v rear and a brass bead front sight, settle the bead in the bottom of the v seems to work pretty well on targets, we'll see how it works on game if I get the chance for a close shot this year.
I hunt mostly with the rifle but like the handgun for brushy spots, sling the rifle and get the pistol out, basically if I can't swing the rifle or see further than 50 yds the pistol comes out!
Wish me luck guys!


How do we use those glasses in the rain and cold? Do we choose the lesser of the evils?


I have an artificial lens in one eye and prefer to avoid recoil in the future. Does anybody on this blog know how much recoil a semiauto rifle of a given weight, say, a Browning BAR, has compared to a bolt? It would seem to me that the best way to take care of your vision is not to wreck your retinas with recoil in the first place.


I got an SKS which pretty much just jumps a little, no real kick at all, and a 7.62x39 is about the same as a 30-30 ballisticly so it ought to do a fine job on deer with a SP load. Unfortunately PA doesn't allow semi auto for hunting or I would use it myself. It's an accurate one! My Marlin 30-30 lever gives a respectable thump for doing about the same job.

Pappa Bear

Most of my shooting is black-powder open-sights in the North-South Skirmish Assn ( http://www.n-ssa.org ), so presbyopic, astigmatic, 63-year-old eyes are part of the challenge.

Fortunately, our team has an optometrist who welcomes the carting of our muzzlestuffers, etc., into his office. The secret seems to be cranking up the shooting-eye prescription a quarter- or half-diopter above its normal range. That gives you the front sight clear, and leaves enough of the target out there in the fuzz to hit things with some regularity.

No, getting old definitely isn't for sissies. But so far, at least, it seems more to be desired than the alternative...

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