If you enjoy shooting your pistol, and if you want to improve in your abilities, you will want to understand how your eyes perform in this complex task. Good shooting skills require coordination of the motor system and the visual system. Our eyes tell us what and where the target is, and at the same time they must help the muscle-motor system align the sights of the pistol on the target.
There are three distances in space that the eye must focus in order to prepare for any shot. The closest distance is from the eye to the rear sight. The second distance is from the eye to the front sight. And the last distance is from the eye to the target. Our eyes can only focus at one distance at a time, so we can never see the sights and the target both clearly at the same time. Those shooters below the age of 40 can usually change focus between the target and the sights rapidly, and then determine what level of focus gives the best overall picture to complete the shot. As we grow older, and especially from the late 40’s onward, presbyopia, or loss of focusing ability, develops, and the ability to focus both the sights and the target is reduced.
Because the eye cannot focus all these distances simultaneously, there are various schools of thought on where to place your focus at to execute the most accurate shot. Commonly the front sight is recommended as the best place to concentrate your focus. This mid-focus idea makes sense since the rear sight and target will be less out of focus than if you concentrated on the near rear sight or the far target.
If you cannot see your pistol sights with good clarity, your optometrist may prescribe special shooting glasses that provide both good protection and better vision for your shooting fun. The lenses are usually made of polycarbonate, which is the safest and most shatterproof material for glasses. After a thorough evaluation of your distance vision and resulting prescription, the doctor can put in a small amount of “plus power” to sharpen the pistol sights without blurring the target excessively. Many times shooters will try to use their reading glasses or their bifocals to see the sights clearly, but a prescription that is designed for your shooting needs will skyrocket your performance!
Author: Dr. Frank Puckett
Monument Vision Clinic
1860 Woodmoor Drive, Monument CO