By Kevin Tate
BOULDER CITY, Nev. – On a day when many of the newest innovations in the outdoor industry made tremendous noise, one of the most universally useful and effective quietly continued its job of making every other product’s experience better.
On a bright day at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club as part of last week’s Media Day at the Range, an element of the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, every rifle, hand gun and shotgun shooter wore protective glasses as a matter of rule. These glasses carried a variety of tints as a matter of practice. How these tints came to be chosen involves both science and practical application.
In an industry where many marketing claims are hard to verify, the benefit of tinted lenses provides a nice contrast of its own. The strategic tinting of lenses to help enhance vision by eliminating some spectrums of light is a medical technique long in place.
“All colors of the spectrum make different details stand out,” said Dr. David Cheatham, a doctor of optometry who practices in West Point. “Cutting down certain spectrums allows you to strategically cut details to increase contrast.”
Better by contrast
Cheatham has prescribed tinted corrective lenses for many patients over the years who suffer from various maladies that can be relieved by blocking certain colors of light. Shooting glasses take advantage of scientific research that supports this branch of medicine.
“Shooting glasses don’t correct vision,” Cheatham said, “they’re not focusing anything, they’re just filtering light to improve the image quality.”
Cheatham is an avid recreational shooter and hunter and has used such products himself to good effect.
“In addition to increasing contrast,” he said, “the shading they provide lets the pupils open more and decreases eye strain in the process. It’s one of those things that can contribute to better shooting. You can’t say it’ll necessarily make you a better shot, but if your eye is more comfortable and the contrast on the target makes it easier to see, it’s only logical that you’d be better able to focus mentally on what you’re trying to do with less distraction.”
Protective shooting glasses are mandatory gear on most ranges and are a good idea anytime clay pigeons or spent casings are in the air. Tints for contrast and ultraviolet ray protection are generally included, but some manufacturers take the opportunity for improvement and innovation further down the road.
The Oakley company demonstrated their newest line, the Oakley SI Prizm, during Media Day at the Range.
“The lenses are engineered to fine tune the users’ visual contrast and depth perception,” said Mike Lyons, marketing manager for Oakley. He said the company developed this particular line with input from the U.S. Army’s competitive shooting team. The glasses include a fog-resistant coating on the inside, a scratch-resistant coating on the outside and a variety of frame-related features.
Verifiably, the complete package offers a great deal of comfort.