Basic Essentials Series: Shooting Safety Equipment
Dr. John Woods 02.14.17
You just bought your first big game rifle, a new handgun, or a shotgun for turkey hunting or self-defense, and you’re headed off to the local range. You show up in your new pearly white tennis shoes with a bag full of ammo. When you check in the Range Master asks to see your shooting safety gear and you look dumbfounded. My what?
I know the routine because I work at gun shows selling new firearms buyers their first ever gun. When I ask about their ear muffs or shooting glasses, they ask what that is for. So they get the first lesson in firearms shooting safety and a pretty nifty sales pitch, free of charge.
Shooting glasses are necessary because firearms have a history of spitting out small bits of stuff that can lodge in the eyes. It’s painful and heck on vision. Revolvers are famous for shaving off lead from bullets and shedding it out of the chamber gaps as hot, molten metal. Pistols can do likewise when ejecting spent brass casings out of the chamber, sending them flying back in your face. The same goes for rifles, too.
Thus, the eyes need protection from overt flying objects that result from shooting guns. Also, while it is not often, a gun can let go (blow up) entirely, and this is dangerous, too. Shooting glasses need to be of an approved type covering the eyes completely, even around the sides of the eyes. The lenses can be of optical glass or special plastics, clear or different colors applied to enhance shooting vision such as bright yellow to highlight the vision. Check your local gun shop.
Similarly the ears need good protection from the loud blasts of firearms firing. Guns make a lot of noise. The peak pressure of a round going off creates enormous high pitch levels of high frequencies that can severely damage hearing over time. Foam inserts are not enough. In fact many experienced or competitive shooters wear both inserts with a heavy duty set of ear muffs over the top. They also make electronic ear muffs to control hearing acuity.
A good pair of shooting gloves is not a bad idea either. This permits a better grip on any gun, which increases overall recoil control. Shooting guns for recreation is great gun. Your eyes and ears demand protection. You only get one set of them after all.