Shooting with Corrective Lenses: Bad Eyesight and Concealed Carry

Shooting with Corrective Lenses: Bad Eyesight and Concealed Carry


Just because you wear corrective lenses doesn't mean you can't hit the broadside of a barn. Follow these handgun shooting tips to overcome less-than-perfect eyesight.

Legally carrying a gun concealed is not just for young adults with 20/20 vision. Take me for example, for whom the days are long gone when, in semi-annual qualifications at the police department, I pounded out groups that could be covered with one hand.

As time went on, my groups opened up a bit but were all “center mass.” Still, several years before I retired, I had to start choosing between seeing the sights or seeing the target.

At concealed carry classes I observe lots of good folks with corrective lenses. And in those states where a shooting qualification is required, I shouldn't chuckle — but I still do — when they squint with noses held high in the air using bifocals to see the front sights. Don't do this.

If you get in a jam that requires you to pull your gun, you are not going to assume that ridiculous posture to pick up the sights through the bottoms of your glasses. Adrenalin will drive you into a semi-crouch and your vision will tunnel on the threat.

If the gun fits your hand and you practice regularly, you may get hits at contact distance whether you can see the sights or not. If the gun doesn’t fit and/or you don’t practice with it often, you will probably miss.

The best solution to old eyes like mine is adding a laser designator to your gun — or buy a new handgun that comes equipped with a laser. Use your glasses to read the paper. Use the laser to run the gun (an added bonus is that with the right verbal commands, the laser can help you de-escalate).

Remember, all lethal encounters are different and everybody brings unique needs and capacities to the fight.


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  1. I’m “getting on” in years now myself so I have been practicing point and shoot for some time and it is working very well. Target, target, target. I am moving away from using the sights at all.
    And I practice left and right handed.

  2. Unfortunately, you do not seem to be aware of all options. I was initially trained on Winchester 52s at the Winchester Gun Club in New Haven, 50+ years ago. The target 52s were equipped with aperture sights. The focus with aperture sights is on the bulls eye and the two aperture sights become blurry concentric circles. When learning to form a sight with open sights, I naturally focused on the target, as I was previously trained, and let the front and rear open sights form a blurry line. Since it is near vision that degrades more quickly with age, my ability to form a sight picture has not degraded; the target is still clear and the sights are a little blurry. I have recently needed a mild prescription for far vision and it has only improved my sight picture. As a NRA instructor, I have met a few people with the same experience and training I had with aperture sights, and they have benefitted in the same way as their eyes aged. I have trained several people with degrading near vision to switch their focus to the bulls eye, rather than the front sight with excellent success.

  3. At age 75, of course my vision is not the best. I learned a long time ago that in defense, eyesight was the least important part of the equation. A proper grip that indexes with the nose, gets you on target. If you are looking at the threat, which you will, this gets the job done in your favor, no matter what you eyesight(except stone blind and even then if you have good hearing you will come close enough for government work). The classic target sight picture is useless in defense, good for target, good for hunting, a killer in defense, no time, done before you get into your trained stance.

    I still compete at my local club, Action Pistol and Steel Stock Handgun. Steel at 100 yards requires all the classic target skills. Action Pistol requires a smooth draw and proper grip, the sights are an after thought.

    When a bad guy jumps out of the dark, only your awareness and a proper grip will save your butt.
    Been their done that, have the tee shirt, forget what it is for……:) Rex Be alert……

    • Excellent comment “rexj”. I agree entirely that with lots of practice anybody can overcome the effects of declining eyesight. Thanks for taking time to advocate for all of us “more experienced” shooters..

  4. Thanks for the comments. Practice makes perfect no matter what you use to help correct your vision. Just remember that you may not always be so equipped when you need to shoot so practice with and without your contacts.

  5. I also have mono contacts only my left contact is for close up. I can shoot well using either eye or both eyes. Check out the shooting qualifications and if you feel that you cant shoot good enough now to qualify then start target shooting, and when you get good enough go get your CHL. Im sure that you will be glad that you did.

  6. I wear a mono contact in my right eye for reading and it makes a big difference in which eye I use to shoot with as using both at same time. I want to get my CH L so bad , I just seen your add on FB so I’m asking your advice.


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