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“Old eyes”

This is a discussion on “Old eyes” within the Range Reports forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; I periodically post rants about eyesight and sights/optics. A pet peeve of mine is people who justify buying scope because their “old eyes” can’t cut ...


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Old September 7th, 2019, 09:05 AM   #1
 
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“Old eyes”

I periodically post rants about eyesight and sights/optics. A pet peeve of mine is people who justify buying scope because their “old eyes” can’t cut it any more with iron sights. I don’t believe that, and I wish people would stop trying to justify using a scope because of supposed declining vision.

My friend Ruben is probably the best shooter at our range. He’s in his early 80’s and wears glasses for both distance and reading. The other day, he borrowed an Egyptian rifle (FN-49?) from another shooter, a military surplus 308 rifle with aperture sights, and shot a 3 shot cloverleaf group from a bench at 100 yards.

This was not a cherry-picked group. Those were the only shots he took with the rifle. He handed it right back to the owner.

Scopes are wonderful. I have them and use them. Iron sights, though, still work just fine, and just as well as they did when our forefathers had to use them to put meat on the table. Don’t ever underestimate how well you can shoot with them. If you can legally drive to the range you can see plenty well enough to shoot.



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Old September 7th, 2019, 09:27 AM   #2
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ditto1958, You are so wrong about this! If your eyes were as bad as my eyes, you would certainly change your tune.
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Old September 7th, 2019, 09:42 AM   #3
 
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Originally Posted by Iowegan View Post
ditto1958, You are so wrong about this! If your eyes were as bad as my eyes, you would certainly change your tune.
In all seriousness, eyesight does both change and deteriorate with age. I’m 61 and have worn glasses since 5th grade and bifocals since my mid-40’s. I definitely need a lot more light than I did when I was younger. I also don’t have nearly as much depth of field as I used to when I was younger. Perhaps that’s the thing shooters notice first. On a bright sunny day an 18 year old can focus on the front and rear sights AND the target. Older shooters can’t do that. Gotta pick one and the other two are out of focus. Look through a good scope, and wow! Everything is clear again.

But do normal age-related changes in eyesight preclude the effective use of open signts? No, not usually. Use a six o’clock hold and hold in the same spot for each shot and excellent groups are within reach with a bit of practice.

As I said in my original post, scopes are good, and I use and enjoy them. We need them. But shooting well with irons should not be overlooked.
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Old September 7th, 2019, 10:00 AM   #4
 
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Shooting with a peep aperture helps negate the problem of needing readers. But light and depth of field play a huge difference in the way a man can acquire a good sight picture and regular sights in poor light is a recipe for poor shooting. I know because when I started needing bifocals, I had to take a step back from my bow. Dad had to do the same. But I still make some good shots with my iron sights on my rifle, but not in low light.
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Old September 7th, 2019, 11:15 AM   #5
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ditto1958, I'm 75 and had cataract surgery about 10 years ago. This involves removing your human lens that is "focus adjustable" with eye muscles and replace with a "fixed focus" plastic lens. I was extremely near-sighted prior to surgery and after surgery, I now can see distant objects clearly with no glasses, in fact any objects beyond 10 feet focus quite well. The problem comes with objects closer than 10 feet and get progressively more blurry at even closer distances. Herein lies the problem when shooting rifles. The rear sight is just inches from my eye and is a total blur …. even with corrective lenses. The front sight is about 2 feet away and is also very blurry. The target is nice and crisp. Progressive lenses are great for reading or operating a computer …. but not for shooting. I have to tilt my head way back and look through the bottom of the lens and still can't get a suitable focus on the rear sight. Then tilt my head to a different view through the corrective lens to see the front sight, and finally, I have to tilt my head forward to look through the top of the lens to see the target. It is impossible to see at any two of the distances at the same time.

As Quackaholic noted, available light is a big deal. That's because lenses (human or man-made) focus the sharpest when you look through the center of the lens. As light diminishes, your pupil has to open up and allow more light to enter your eye. This changes things and makes "depth of field" focus more critical. When you couple lower light levels with poor lenses, it makes it almost impossible to get a decent sight picture, even with corrective lenses.

Shooting handguns with open sights works a little better because the sights aren't very far apart (sight radius) with shorter barrels but becomes a big issue with barrels longer than 6" for the same reason as above. I still can't see the sights and target at the same time so I bob my head and look like a woodpecker when I shoot handguns.

As long as human lenses are still flexible, they will focus quite well at different distances. As we get older, human lenses get progressively harder and are no longer flexible enough to adjust for distance. This doesn't happen to everyone but it does happen to most people and for sure happens after cataract surgery. Peep sights act much like a glass lens and helps correct vision …. but for many people including myself, they still can't focus on the front sight and target at the same time.

Nearly all rifle scopes and binoculars have an adjustable focus rear lens that have a +or- 3 diopter limit. If your eye is not more than 3 diopters off, this will correct your vision at most any distance from 25 yards and farther with out wearing eye glasses. If your vision is worse than +or- 3 diopters you will need to use eye glasses or contacts to focus on the target with a scope or binoculars.

Your friend with the Egyptian rifle is obviously an exception and it sure doesn't mean most of us older guys can see well enough to shoot without a scope. I think you should rethink your "pet peeve" and wake up to reality because many of us just can't shoot well without a scope.
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Old September 7th, 2019, 11:31 AM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ditto1958 View Post
I periodically post rants about eyesight and sights/optics. A pet peeve of mine is people who justify buying scope because their “old eyes” can’t cut it any more with iron sights. I don’t believe that, and I wish people would stop trying to justify using a scope because of supposed declining vision.

My friend Ruben is probably the best shooter at our range. He’s in his early 80’s and wears glasses for both distance and reading. The other day, he borrowed an Egyptian rifle (FN-49?) from another shooter, a military surplus 308 rifle with aperture sights, and shot a 3 shot cloverleaf group from a bench at 100 yards.

This was not a cherry-picked group. Those were the only shots he took with the rifle. He handed it right back to the owner.

Scopes are wonderful. I have them and use them. Iron sights, though, still work just fine, and just as well as they did when our forefathers had to use them to put meat on the table. Don’t ever underestimate how well you can shoot with them. If you can legally drive to the range you can see plenty well enough to shoot.
Wow. Enough arrogance there?

Someday your eyes may reach the point where glasses won't correct the vision completely.

I can't see the bullseye at 100 yards. How am I supposed to hit it with irons sights?

Don't be such a jerk.
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Old September 7th, 2019, 11:54 AM   #7
 
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I use a laser on my home defense beretta storm carbine as it helps greatly in the poor lighting. I am a widower and live alone so no one in my place who is not me is an intrder but I want toknow whre my bullet may go. The lase has increased my accuracy and speed dramatically.
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Old September 7th, 2019, 02:21 PM   #8
 
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It escapes me why anyone would care if someone would choose to use a scope on their guns. If the actions of others causes no harm to me or others, they can do as they please. To me, young eyes, old eyes, or in between, the choice is theirs to make and not something of concern. If a scope helps a person to enjoy shooting or aid in accuracy why not use it?

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Old September 7th, 2019, 02:54 PM   #9
 
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It escapes me why anyone would care if someone would choose to use a scope on their guns. If the actions of others causes no harm to me or others, they can do as they please. To me, young eyes, old eyes, or in between, the choice is theirs to make and not something of concern. If a scope helps a person to enjoy shooting or aid in accuracy why not use it?


I’m 76 and my corrected vision is 20/20 yet the only long guns without scopes are my shotguns and my M1. Three of my six Contender barrels are scoped, as well.
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Old September 7th, 2019, 03:56 PM   #10
 
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I used to make surgical instruments for the eye. Among them were gadgets for cataract surgery. Intrinsic to inventing and making such tools was the knowledge of the human eye, and how it changes. As one ages the eye is far less able to focus on near objects, the so-called "my arms are too short to read that" syndrome. Since iron sights are supposed to be used by focusing on the front sight, eventually the ability to do so will decrease or disappear with age. So a scope is potentially a great asset, all else being equal. Or, a set of bifocals, which allow both "distant" and close-up focusing. A scope allows one to focus on distant objects, and the reticle at the same time, because the scope is designed for that (it puts both objects in the same plane). The OP's original post implies to me that the ageing effect has not fully happened yet.

Last edited by blackvoid; September 7th, 2019 at 05:22 PM.
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Old September 7th, 2019, 04:49 PM   #11
 
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I just bought a scope to help me see the target better. Mounted and bore sighted it today and I think I will take it the range Monday or Tuesday to finish sighting it in, I bought because my old eyes that have been bad since the third grade need the help. I often wonder why some guys decide they have the only answer and their answer is absolutely correct and must be shared with everyone. I am glad while Ruben in his 80's is able to shoot well with open sights . While I am in my mid 60's can use open sights but it is a struggle most days.
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Old September 7th, 2019, 06:02 PM   #12
 
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I am seventy-three and wear progressive trifocals. I could use quad-focals. I need separate glasses to read a book and separate glasses to use the laptop computer.

I bought an M1A recently that was on consignment at the LGS. I figured out why he put it on consignment. It was shooting about eighteen inches high and about eight inches right. I haven't shot an M-14 since 1966 in Viet Nam. I got the M1A sighted in with the iron sights and was shooting cloverleaves at the top center of the bull's eye at 100 yards from the bench today.
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Old September 8th, 2019, 03:23 AM   #13
 
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Originally Posted by Iowegan View Post
ditto1958, You are so wrong about this! If your eyes were as bad as my eyes, you would certainly change your tune.
My 72 year old eyes actually see two front sights. I tried shooting with my bifocal glasses so the front sight became clear but then the target is very fuzzy. Most of the time now I just shoot w/o glasses and do the best I can. I couldn't stand to put a scope on my Rugers. The aperture sight on most military rifles actually makes the front sight clearer in my experience.
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Old September 8th, 2019, 03:27 AM   #14
 
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Originally Posted by LimaCharlie View Post
I am seventy-three and wear progressive trifocals. I could use quad-focals. I need separate glasses to read a book and separate glasses to use the laptop computer.

I bought an M1A recently that was on consignment at the LGS. I figured out why he put it on consignment. It was shooting about eighteen inches high and about eight inches right. I haven't shot an M-14 since 1966 in Viet Nam. I got the M1A sighted in with the iron sights and was shooting cloverleaves at the top center of the bull's eye at 100 yards from the bench today.
Gotta love the M-14! To me it is a better battle rifle that the M-16.
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Old September 8th, 2019, 04:34 AM   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ditto1958 View Post
I periodically post rants about eyesight and sights/optics. A pet peeve of mine is people who justify buying scope because their “old eyes” can’t cut it any more with iron sights. I don’t believe that, and I wish people would stop trying to justify using a scope because of supposed declining vision.

My friend Ruben is probably the best shooter at our range. He’s in his early 80’s and wears glasses for both distance and reading. The other day, he borrowed an Egyptian rifle (FN-49?) from another shooter, a military surplus 308 rifle with aperture sights, and shot a 3 shot cloverleaf group from a bench at 100 yards.

This was not a cherry-picked group. Those were the only shots he took with the rifle. He handed it right back to the owner.

Scopes are wonderful. I have them and use them. Iron sights, though, still work just fine, and just as well as they did when our forefathers had to use them to put meat on the table. Don’t ever underestimate how well you can shoot with them. If you can legally drive to the range you can see plenty well enough to shoot.
I think you are making a blanket assumption ... each person and situation is different. To blindly (no pun intended) say if you can legally drive to the range you can see plenty well enough to shoot is minimizing a situation in a one size fits all scenario.
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