No matter what type of shooting you do, you need to wear eye protection. Understanding a little more about the different types of glasses and reasons you might want one over another could save you some tedious trial and error.
The Best Eye Pro
The very best eye pro is the pair you are wearing! It doesn’t have to be fancy; it just has to protect your eyes. You can buy everything from a $4.49 cent pair of glasses that my son has used to compete at world championships, to high-end glasses that will last for a years. But the eye pro that you have on hand, ready to wear and keep on your head ... that’s the best!
Basics of Eye Protection
The basic parts of eye protection are the lens, frame (if it has one), stems or side pieces, and the bridge. How a particular pair fits your head size and face shape is as unique as you are.
There are framed glasses, glasses with more of a goggle-style frame to protect you from debris, and frameless glasses (usually for shotgun shooters or someone who needs to see through different angles). Some glasses come with a strap to secure them to your head. Some have a thick, padded nose-piece or bridge. Some have minimal nose pads and bridges. If you shop around, you will find something just right for you.
Things to Consider, No Matter Your Size or Use:
- Safety: Are they ANSI rated? Do they cover your eyes well?
- Fit: Do they fit your face? Do they fit over your ears?
- Function: Do they stay on? Can you see clearly?
No matter what size you are, eye protection needs to be ANSI rated glass and cover your eyes fully. You can learn more about ANSI rating here, and no, your sunglasses do not meet the standard!
Considerations for Smaller Women:
Does the frame or bridge block your field of view?
If you have a small face, over-built frames or heavy, blocky frames can impede your field of view. They can also be heavy and give you sore spots on your nose and temples.
Are they compatible with your over-the-ear hearing protection?
If you wear over-the-ear hearing protection, thick, large or inflexible stems that create a gap in the seal of your hearing protection can be problematic. And even if they don’t create a gap, some will get pinched and leave a mark in your temples, which can also be painful.
Do the glasses stay on your head?
You will want eye protection that stays on your head, especially if you are shooting in action-oriented sports. Some stems are bendable, and you can custom-fit them to your head. This is great for smaller people! Check the fit by shaking your head—move around, do jumping jacks if you must. But make sure your eye pro will stay on!
Do the lenses cover your entire eye area?
Sometimes eye pro made for smaller faces becomes so small that it doesn’t really protect your eyes well. So, while a smaller frame might fit you better, make sure you still have coverage over your entire eye area.
I want glasses that are comfortable. I currently wear a pair of eye pro with comfortable bridge pieces. They can be bent, which means that if I am wearing them for 10+ hours, my nose doesn’t develop two divots from the bridge. I stumbled on these while filming with NRA Women, and liked them so much, I bought more.
I often shoot in different light conditions, so one pair of glasses with multiple interchangeable lens colors is perfect for me.
I compete outdoors in dust and dirt and often need to wipe my glasses between each stage. My current pair are the most scratch-resistant I’ve found over many years of shooting. They also came with a case, so they are even less likely to be scratched jostling around in my range bag.
Because I run around in all types of weather and humidity, glasses that don’t fog up are important. This is another reason I fell in love with my current pair.
Exceptions to the Rules
You will find some sunglasses that are also ANSI rated. If you are wearing them for competing, be prepared for range officers and others to question you. Don’t be shy to share that you found sunglasses with an ANSI rating!
Usually though, sunglasses do not stay on your head as well as glasses designed for safety and aggressive movement. So, like my friend Lynda in the photo below, save your sunglasses for when the day is over and you want to shine at awards!