Whether you’re practicing at the range, participating in a competition, or out hunting, the importance of firearm eye and ear protection shouldn’t be ignored. It only takes one unfortunate moment to produce permanent damage to your hearing or sight. You may not be able to avert these problems completely in a self-defense scenario, but you can certainly remove them as a factor from every other situation where you might be shooting. Here’s why it matters.
First and foremost, you should consider the many accidents which can inflict harm on your eyes. There’s a lot of moving parts, heat, and chemicals involved in shooting under the best of circumstances. Ejected cartridges, blowback from excessive powder, ricochets: there’s any number of hazardous things that can end up in your eye if you’re shooting without eye protection. Invest in sturdy wraparounds to avoid 90% of these problems.
Of course, that’s not the only threat to your eyesight you should consider when shooting. Muzzle flash may not seem like a big deal, but over time, with the wrong circumstances, it can add up to permanent damage to your vision. That’s why proper eye protection usually also involves some degree of shading; not a lot, just enough to keep the intensity of flashes to a minimum. As an added bonus, many shooters note an improvement in their accuracy with the right set of shades, so don’t think this needs to be an impediment.
You should also consider eye protection purely to keep the environment at bay. Take firearms out of the equation entirely, and it still makes sense to wear eye protection in the woods. Even something as innocuous as cleaning a pistol can leave you wishing you’d worn eye protection, between the burn of solvents and the flight of errant springs.
Ear protection also deserves your attention, though most shooters already know about this one. In case you’re in the minority that shoots without earplugs or noise canceling sound mufflers, it’s important to understand just what you’re exposing yourself to. Even quiet rounds exceed the noise levels associated with hearing loss. The more you shoot, the more likely you are to experience damage. And that doesn’t make it okay to shoot unprotected from time to time; a single gunshot under the right circumstances can permanently deafen you. Don’t take chances with your hearing.