When I was a kid, I loved to watch cowboy movies on TV. A time-honored gimmick in some of them was to have an interjection: “Meanwhile, back at the ranch,” and the scene would shift to the ranch, where something important was going on.
Well, I have a “meanwhile back at the ranch story for you.” This one comes from El Rancho Elliott, where yours truly tests airguns in upstate New York. About a year ago, I noticed that I was having trouble focusing on thing with my right eye, and that a kind of halo would appear around bright lights.
I went to the eye doctor, who said that I was developing a cataract in my right eye. The cataract was changing the optical characteristics of the lens in my right eye, which was making it difficult to focus. I got a new eyeglass prescription for the right eye, and that improved focusing, but I was still having problems with halos around lights.
Over time, the problem got worse. I could still shoot well if I was using a telescopic sight, but after a while, my general vision in my right eye was like walking around with a piece of waxed paper over my right eyeglass lens. Finally, I decided I just had to do something.
About two weeks ago, I had a cataract operation on my right eye. The doctor made a 3mm incision in my right eye, inserted an ultrasonic probe into the lens capsule, broke up the right lens, and then sucked out the remains of the lens through the probe. Next, a folded plastic lens was inserted and allowed to unfold. Before the operation, I could barely read the second line on the eye chart. Now my vision corrects to 20/25, and the doctor expects even more improvement may be possible.
Just minutes ago, I came in from testing two airguns, and what a pleasure it was to shoot with good vision in both eyes! I was even able to shoot an air rifle with globe front sight and peep rear sight, something I hadn’t been able to do for some time. I am deeply grateful for the improvement in my sight. It’s simply glorious.
All this points out that sight itself is a gift, and that the smart move for you – and me – as airgun shooters is to protect that gift. That means that whenever you shoot, you and everyone else on the shooting line should wear protective eye wear. I normally wear polycarbonate lens eye glasses to correct my vision.
If you don’t wear something similar to protect your vision, let me humbly suggest that you try these shooting glasses. In fact, pick up a few pairs so that you have enough to protect the folks on the firing line. The cost is miniscule, particularly when compared to the cost and hassle of an eye injury.
Finally, to further protect your sight, take care in your selection of targets. Remember that BBs tend to ricochet when shot against hard targets. A soft backstop works best with BBs. On the other hand, shooting resilient spherical targets with a high-powered pellet gun tends to result in the pellet coming straight back at the shooter. My favorite backstop for pellets is a pellet trap that is filled with Ductseal. The pellets bury themselves in the Ductseal and stay there. So take a tip from Uncle Jock, who just had a reminder about the importance of eyesight, and protect your eyeballs when you shoot.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
- Jock Elliott