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How to Choose the Right Safety Gear

If you like to shoot your firearms at a gun range, it is important to take the necessary precautions for safety. The most important safety gear you need to have on you is eye and ear protection. However, simply saying you need protection for your eyes and ears is like saying you need a new pair of shoes. Just like with shoes, there are many different types to choose from. Unfortunately, they are not all created equally.
 
Eye Protection When At The Range
 
Before you pick out the right type of eye protection to use at the gun range, it is important to understand why you need to protect your eyes. Simply put, eye protection will help keep things from hitting your eyes. Because we are talking about shooting firearms, the eyeglasses need to wrap around and protect all sides of your eyes. It is not uncommon for ricochets to happen in a gun range.
 
Anyone who has spent time working in a factory setting has experience wearing safety glasses, but there are significant differences between simple safety glasses and shooting glasses for ballistic use. Safety glasses are designed to keep debris from entering your eyes, but ballistic glasses have to meet more requirements before meeting the standards for gun range use. Proper ballistic glasses need to meet military and ANSI requirements to withstand high-velocity impacts.
 
Brands such as Champion offer both safety and ballistic glasses. Many of their glasses will meet or exceed the NATO or U.S. military specifications for ballistic resistance. This is true even for many of the products that don't have the word ballistic attached to them.
 
Protection is not the only thing many shooters look for when picking out a pair of safety gear sunglasses. Everyone wants to look cool at the gun range, but a simple pair of sunglasses will never give you the protection needed at an indoor gun range. In reality, they are the last type of eye protection you should wear.
 
When shooting indoors, yellow lenses are better because they help you see your target pop out against the backdrop. They may not be as popular and are considered old-fashioned these days, but experienced shooters realize how much more accurate they can shoot when wearing them. Yellow lenses are not good for outdoor use on sunny days because they make everything brighter.
 
Amber or orange lenses are becoming more popular because they help bring out details and can work in bright or low lit areas. Some companies offer protective glasses that have interchangeable lenses. This allows you to pick out the lenses that work perfectly for the location you are shooting at. Champion offers ballistic shooting glasses that come with interchangeable lenses at an affordable price.
 
If you wear prescription eyewear, you can get ballistic shooting glasses with your prescription in the lenses. However, you will need to have the lenses constructed by an eye care professional.
 
Hearing Protection When At The Range
 
Another important type of safety gear, especially when shooting at a gun range, is ear protection. Specifically, you're looking to protect your hearing from the loud sounds that occur in a gun range. There are two basic options for protecting your hearing. Muffs and plugs are the options to consider and both have pros and cons.
 
Earmuffs are the best option when it comes to blocking out sounds because they completely enclose your ear. When you are shooting outside and it is cold, passive or plain earmuffs are a great option because they cover your entire ear. When shooting outside in the heat, plastic-coated foam earpads can cause sweat to drip. Muffs are much bulkier than earplugs, but they work best for some people.
 
Mixing Ear Protection With Eye Protection
 
It is important to be comfortable while at the gun range. Depending on what style of safety glasses you choose, wearing earmuffs could cause pressure to be placed behind your ears. Electronic earmuffs are a new type of hearing protection becoming more popular because they have microphones that can help enhance sounds around you. It allows you to talk normally with people next to you, but when a loud noise such as a gunshot erupts, it will cut off the sound.
 
Gloves, Elbow And Knee Protection
 
Aside from protecting your eyes and ears, you may want to protect your hands if you shoot for hours on end. Blackhawk manufacturers gloves for tactical and shooting use. The gloves come with padding reinforcements to keep your hands from tiring out while shooting. Some have reinforced knuckles for military use in the event a person wearing them has to punch something.
 
If you plan to shoot your shotgun from a prone position, you may want to wear elbow and knee protectors. If you compete in shooting competitions or self-defense classes, these protectors may keep you from hurting your elbows and knees while shooting in any variety of awkward positions.
Carla Arbuckle

Carla is a staff writer for Fishing.org and Shooting.org. She is an avid outdoors enthusiast and photographer. She can be found most weekends fishing and exploring the wilderness.

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