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old eyes; eyeglasses and iron sights
November 8, 2019
12:41 pm
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I hope this is suitable for the GENERAL DISCUSSION section; the subject must have been discussed somewhere, sometime in recent years, but I have not found it.

If any older shooters have solved the problem of aging eyes adapting to their rifle’s iron sights, in combination with their eyeglasses, I would be interested in hearing of what has worked.

In the COMPLETE BOOOK OF SHOOTING, Jack O’Connor refers in Chapter 6, to “….some aging shooters hang a gadget with a little hole in it on the lens of the spectacle they use for aiming. Then because they are aiming through a small aperture, everything -- rear sight, front sight, and the target – is sharp like a picture taken by a camera with the lens aperture set at F. 22.”

I know nothing more of such a device, and am unaware if it is supposed to be practical for hunting or just target shooting. Has anyone on here have experience with it?

It is understood that telescopic sights are best for those with diminished eyesight, except possibly for rainy or snowy conditions; but my question relates only to using eyeglasses and iron sights in combination.

Jack O’Connor favored telescopic sights on his rifles, being more of an open-country and not a dense-woods hunter. However, there are photos of him in his early years, fully-bespectacled, posing with rifles he has just used to harvest big game. Some of those rifles he used as a young man by all appearances did not have telescopic sights.

November 8, 2019
1:34 pm
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Stumpstalker, and others,  YES, there are various such devices.  I have some experience with them but only in regards to shooting paper.  If you will peruse the catalogs of such supply houses as Brownells, Midway, etc, I am sure you will see various versions.  Some are flexible plastic decal like things that cling to your glasses via static electricity and you place where you will look through it with your master eye.  I have no experience with this version but have been around others that use it with various effect.  Another, relatively inexpensive one clips to the frame of your glasses, and is able to flip up out of the way or down over the lens of your master eye.  It is a black, rigid material with rotatable disk so you can determine the diameter of the aperture you wish to use.  It worked for me for years.  Then there are the more expensive ones made with a suction cup that sticks to the lens and has an aperture that goes over the lens of the master eye.  It also worked for a while.  Now, please note the "for a while".  Seems over time I had more and more issues with my vision.  When it comes to shooting in our silhouette shoots, aperture sights on the "open sight" rifles seem to do better for me.  Vee sights are pretty much a thing of the past except on bright, sunny days.  Individual opinions and circumstances will yield different recommendations and results, no doubt!  I have cataracts, and am very near sighted.   I wear contacts and the more they try to help my distant vision the harder it is to use open sights.  If I was hunting with open sights, then I would go with a peep type sight and keep my full field of vision for detecting game.

Tim

November 8, 2019
3:35 pm
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stumpstalker said

I know nothing more of such a device, and am unaware if it is supposed to be practical for hunting or just target shooting. Has anyone on here have experience with it?
  

Target shooting ONLY, & even then they're aggravating to use...as O'Conner should have made clear.  All you have to do to find out for yourself is tape a piece of black paper with a pin-hole punched in it over the right side of your eyeglasses; makes peeping through a keyhole seem like Cinerama.

If you're not shooting with a tang or receiver sight, combined with a highly visible front sight (maybe even one of those with a florescent insert, though I dislike the look of them), you're doing it the hard way.  For target shooting, I use shooting glasses corrected for the distance to the front sight, but of course the target itself is blurred, so such glasses are totally impractical for hunting. 

An aperture front sight is the "standard" in competition paper-punching, & Marbles once made a hunting front sight on the same principle (the V.M. model), but I tried one & found it unsatisfactory under most field conditions.  However, it's another angle to try out for yourself; if you can't find one of the Marbles, a common Lyman 17a fitted with a large aperture would allow you to judge if it might work for you.

November 10, 2019
12:51 pm
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My mid-50s eyes still provide "Okay" distance vision (using drug store readers) but the sights are a no go, particularly when shooting my pistols. I found some glasses that really make sense for this situation ; SSP Eyewear. They have the bifocal on top! Wish I would have thought of it.

Technically, the glass is always full; half liquid, half air....

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November 10, 2019
4:30 pm
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I’ve had some success with purpose-built shooting glasses but it requires an optometrist and optician that understand your goals. My shooting glasses have a prescription that allows me to focus on my front sight and flying clays with a small “reading” insert for adjusting sights and checking headstamps or box labels. My other “solution” involves buying rifles with aperture sights for “shooters”. 

 

Mike

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November 10, 2019
6:10 pm
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rwsem said
My mid-50s eyes still provide "Okay" distance vision (using drug store readers) but the sights are a no go, particularly when shooting my pistols. I found some glasses that really make sense for this situation ; SSP Eyewear. They have the bifocal on top! Wish I would have thought of it.  

I can't see the front and rear sights and the target at the same time like many of our age.  When shooting a pistol I just put the front sight on the target and if you learn to hold your gun the same way each time you can get good accuracy.  Have you ever heard "in a fight front sight"?  Shooting with both eyes open helps too.  I just use my prescription glasses and can get by with the rifles but a scope really helps.  I also have a set of computer glasses with my prescription in them.  These are my favorite glasses.  I wear them to do most anything except distance.  They are made to have the bottom part for a reading distance and the upper part for the computer distance. Most things at an arms reach are in focus but distance is a little out of focus.  Just another fun part of getting old...

November 28, 2019
11:58 am
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Thanks for all these responses. I suppose I have some sort of approximation of some of the suggestions posted, given my using prescription “shooting glasses” (high-impact plastic lenses; bi-focal). Further experimentation with the optometrist might yield even more improvement viewing sights and game/target simultaneously.
.
But at the range, and shooting off-hand, so as to prepare for a White-tail hunt, I did well enough with the equipment I had to conclude that shooting technique had a lot more to do with the likelihood of placing bullets well than the glasses I was using.

As for equipment, it was a Model 1894 rifle, of 1907 manufacture, whose buck-horn sights I had a smith remove and replace with a Skinner aperture sight. (I retain the factory sights in a labeled baggie.)

The rifle is heavy to carry all day in the woods, I will allow; but that heavy octagonal barrel seems to facilitate a steady hold.   As with many things, there are trade-offs.

November 28, 2019
12:47 pm
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 Having hunted with antique or classic Winchester's I to find the heavier guns more stable than a modern light composite guns. The telescopic sight makes my 70 year old eyes 20 again, but when it comes to iron sights they are 70. What has worked for me is adding a Lyman tang sight to my antique Winchesters if and when I want to shoot them. It's period correct, looks good, and clears the sight picture for my mature eyes. For me, the peep aperture clears the view of both front and rear sights. T/R

November 28, 2019
3:04 pm
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I'm 65 years old. I've added original era tang sights to all my old Winchesters and Marlins. Those tang sights have different sized apertures. I can easily get five-shot groups that are just over 1" at 100 yards with these tang sights, provided the rifle's bore is still decent. I don't have a problem mounting a scope on a modern rifle, but that's not an option for a vintage Winchester.

November 28, 2019
3:37 pm
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stumpstalker said

As for equipment, it was a Model 1894 rifle, of 1907 manufacture, whose buck-horn sights I had a smith remove and replace with a Skinner aperture sight.  

Never heard of this sight, so just looked it up--it's the same idea, with a different method of attachment, as the old Williams "Ace-in-the hole" sight from the '50s; not for the first time, "everything old is new again."  Looks very well made, though I'd prefer all steel, rather than brass & steel.  Personally, however, I'd always choose the longer sight-radius a tang sight provides.

As for the weight of the gun, have you tried one of those slings made principally for muzzle-loaders that attach with leather loops or velcro?  I've used them on guns weighing 10-12 lbs.  Not nearly as convenient as Winchester's "S" hook slings, but much better than having to tote the gun in your hands all day.

November 30, 2019
12:49 am
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Thanks. You folks have this life-long gun novice thinking.

I do see that my 1894 Winchester has the threaded hole, with a set-screw in it, for a tang-sight. One of those may afford better sighting per se than the Skinner, but for deep woods Northeastern hunting, might it be just too obtrusive and vulnerable to be practical?

November 30, 2019
3:06 am
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stumpstalker said

...for deep woods Northeastern hunting, might it be just too obtrusive and vulnerable to be practical?  

I don't think so, but for shots in the vicinity of 50 yds, if that's what you mean by "deep woods," it would probably offer no advantage. 

December 2, 2019
4:32 pm
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I never liked a tang sight mostly because its right there on the wrist and can make for kind-of awkward carrying in hand, until you just get used to it.  With failing eyes and blurred rear sights, I added a vintage lyman tang sight to my carbine.  It made big difference in shooting with significantly better groups as the result.  Been using it a lot in the last year or so and found that folding down that smaller aperature and using the larger one makes a big difference when shooting in the field or lower light conditions.  Your only limitation using a tang sight in heavy tree cover or lower light doesnt have to do with the tang sight, its whether or not you can see your front sight, and what your trying to shoot.  Also keep in mind, shooting at target bullseyes on paper and shooting critters afield are two different things.  To me, critters (deer, hogs & such) look bigger through the sights and your not having to worry about grouping your bullets because hopefully your only taking one shot.  If you can consistently hit a 4" round steel plate at 100 yards or less your likely plenty decent to take a shot at a live target.   

 

Funny story, made a heck of an impression on an old boy at an Easter outing earlier this year who was shooting at a 12" steel plate at 205 yards (he was sure to tell me exactly how far it was) with his new scoped .308 black gun with mounted bipod.  Maybe he was impressed at his performance because of the distance and conditions with a 20+ mph cross wind with gusts.  Even shot it a couple times myself to be nice when asked.  Then I asked him if I could try with my old carbine.  Grabbed it out of the truck.  Sat down at the picnic table, planted my elbows because there was no rest other than my palm, held over the target just a bit to account for any drop.  With the 20+ mph cross wind blowing me around, squeezed one off and and whacked that steel plate.  He couldnt believe I hit that target (neither could I).  Famous last words, I told him "lets make this a little harder" and take a milk jug filled with water and suspend it off the arm of his target with some wire, and we did.   I let him and another old boy try a couple shots with no hits.  Then took my carbine and leveled down on that jug, same conditions as before, kind of witching for the right time to pull that trigger, and somehow did, splitting that milk jug.  At that point I was done, two shots and two hits, thought Id better quit while ahead.  Those folks just couldnt believe an old 100 year old gun with open sights was capable of such feats.  The old boy put his black gun back in his truck and that was the end of his shooting for the day. 

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December 2, 2019
6:56 pm
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Chris, I sort of had a similar situation.  My good friend with his scoped rifle spotted a barrel on the side of a mountain and took a shot and hit it.  He then had me try to hit it with my iron sighted 1890 in WRF.  I shot low the first time but hit it every shot afterwards.  I don't know the range but it was well over 100 yds.  I had the rear sight slot lined up with the base of the front sight.  Sometimes you just have to fit yourself to your gun, not the reverse.  I was taught to shoot your gun and learn how it shoots.  200 yds with a scoped 308 is no big deal.  I zero this type of gun either 2" high at 100 or dead on at 200.  Ask him to do the same shot at 500 or 600 yds.  Most shooters should be able to hit targets out to 400 yds with iron sights if they have a good cartridge.  It just takes practice and knowing where your gun hits.  Estimating the exact yardage is the hardest part unless you have a range finder or a scope that you can measure the size of the target. 

December 2, 2019
7:20 pm
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1892takedown said 
Been using it a lot in the last year or so and found that folding down that smaller aperature and using the larger one makes a big difference when shooting in the field or lower light conditions. 

Using it that way is EXACTLY what Wm. Lyman always advocated.  Here's a line from an 1885 ad:  "Use the small aperture only for target shooting, & even then most persons can do fully as well with the larger aperture, owing to the better light obtained." 

The reason it was originally called a "Combination Sight" (before model numbers were assigned much later) was because the turn-down in its "up" position was considered by some shooters (but not Lyman himself!) essential for target shooting; this was the age of pin-hole target sights.  But for hunting it was always supposed to be used in the "down" position, & that's the way it was depicted in catalog illustrations.

That "pin-hole" principal was still current when the 82A sight was designed for the Model 52.  I found I could shoot with it much better by drilling the aperture out to twice its original size, & if I had to do it over again, I'd make it even larger! 

December 2, 2019
9:25 pm
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Chuck, agree with you that you have to learn where each gun shoots.  Depending on the bullet, velocity, and powder, they dont all hit in the same spot.  Before I started using my tang sight more, I had problems with the my carbine shooting high at 100 yards, even with the rear sight elevator at its lowest setting.  I couldnt find a Lyman or Marble front sight that would work because they were either too tall or too short.  I ended up making several carbine front sights having varying heights to try out of nickels (same width as a standard carbine front sight). Finally made one that worked the best and left it there until I started using the tang sight.  At that point I put my old Lyman front sight back and a Lyman #6 rear sight, coupled with my tang sight.  I currently have an 1894 in 38-55 with 30" barrel that shoots my standard 38-55 loads about 12" high at 100 yards and have tried a number of different sights to correct.  I can shoot it now with the rear sight removed using the tang sight but it still shoots a bit high.  Another one of those projects to work on sometime.  Thats one of the reasons why I never get too concerned about whether sights on a gun are original or not.  Folks were as picky then as they are now about what sight picture worked best for them. 

 

Clarence, regarding those small folding peeps on the Lyman combination sight, I can appreciate now why you sometimes see them with the small folding aperature removed.  I dont have much use for the small peep either on paper or in the field, but everyone has their own preferences.  I always thought those folding aperatures got broken through use until I learned just how tough they really are, leading me to believe many of them were potentially removed intentionally.  Just my take.

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