The Eyes Have It

By Jace Bauserman

Woman shooting rimfire rifle in the field

I didn’t notice it at first. It came on quickly and without warning. Frankly, it scared me. I was on a set of shooting sticks, focused down the barrel of open-sight 12 gauge on a 35-yard turkey target when things got, well, blurry. I closed my right eye to refocus and things got a little better.

A few days later, I visited my optometrist. The vision in my right eye had gone from 20/20 to 20/40. Why? Age. My doc performed a litany of tests, and the diagnosis was simply that age had lessened my eyesight. It sounds scary, but the good news is that if you’re in the same camp, or have eyes in worse shape, lots can be done to ensure accurate shooting for years to come.

Exercise Those Eyes

While there isn’t a lot of science backing eye exercise, many shooters have used techniques intended to strengthen eye muscles and have noted serious improvement. I’m one of them. The idea is simple, like any muscle, the more you exercise eye muscles, the more fine-tuned they get.

Here’s how I do it. From a seated position, hold your pointer finger a few inches from one eye. Focus hard on your finger as you slowly drag it away from your face. Next, adjust your gaze at an object in the distance, which will take your focus off your finger. Now refocus on your finger as you bring it back in toward your face. Once the finger is a few inches from the eye you’re exercising, look away and refocus on the same distant object. Repeat this exercise three times per eye.

Another good one is to draw a large figure eight on a sheet of construction paper. Place the paper on the floor 10 to 12 feet in front of you. Now trace the figure with your eyes. Trace it one direction for 30 seconds and then the other for 30 seconds. Do four sets in each direction.

For more eye exercise info, visit with your optometrist. It’s likely, after a thorough exam, they will have some specific exercises that will be right for you.

Bite The Bullet

I’ve become very disciplined with my eye-exercise routine, and thus far, it’s fixed my focus issues and my shooting is sound. With that noted, you may find your optometrist recommends eye exercises in combination with glasses or contacts.

shooting rimfire handgun at an outdoor range

Here’s the deal: I hate to touch my eyes and I’m not big on prescription glasses, but I love to shoot. If that eventually means getting glasses or contacts so I can continue to enjoy what I love, I won’t fight it, and neither should you. There’s a litany of shooting glasses on the market that can be fitted with corrective lenses, and of course, contacts are an option for many.

Also, I’ve met throngs of shooters who’ve opted for a LASIK procedure. In laymen’s terms, this is laser-assisted eye surgery. It’s no big deal, and the procedure reshapes the cornea to enable light entering the eye to be properly focused onto the retina to boost vision clarity. For many shooters, this surgery has been life-changing.

Something New

It’s also not a bad idea to add a laser designator to your firearm. There are multiple handguns that come equipped with lasers, and adding one to a your rimfire rifle is not difficult or expensive. These aiming devices can greatly assist with your shooting accuracy.

Those who love to hunt with their rimfire can opt for a scope with an illuminated reticle, which can help with focusing and lighting issues.

Those who love to hunt with their rimfire can opt for a scope with an illuminated reticle, which can help with focusing and lighting issues.

The bottom line: Don’t fret and don’t fight it. No one knows your body like you do, and if your vision is becoming a struggle, and that struggle is leading to accuracy issues and a loss of shooting joy, do something about it. There are too many options available to just ignore the problem.