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I did a stupid thing the other day: I recorded a video where I wasn’t wearing eye protection. Ironically, it was part of a post urging members of Armed Intelligentsia to practice shooting without their prescription glasses; I forgot to put safety glasses on after I removed my specs. I’ve deleted the video. Yeah, it’s that important. In this CNN piece on the USMC taking Significant Others on the range for empathy training, we learn that “safety, even for reporters, is a priority at all times.” Ear protection is mentioned. And then it’s naked eyeballs all ’round. It’s hard to believe the Corps RSO would be this irresponsible for new shooters on the line—or anyone else for that matter. But there you go. It’s an easy mistake to make. Don’t make it.

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  1. I never wear eye protection on the USMC rifle range and since 1982 I have yet to see anyone get an eye injury.

    Your rule is made by insurance companies. It’s not our rule.

    • Interesting comment.

      I would say it is common sense to wear eye protection, but it is obviously not common or there would be no discussion about it—we’d all wear it. Instead I guess we should call it a prudent safety measure, to protect our important eyes from gun shot residue blowback, ejecting spent cartridges, or, in the worst case, an explosive misfire or case rupture, etc.

      I’d say it’s like wearing a seat belt, having a fire extinguisher, or keeping a home defense firearm in an accessible place. (In my case in a GunVault.) Of course, you are free to do what you want, but I’d advise you wear eye protection. Just in case.

      • Could we have a little perspective, please?

        This is the United States Marines Corps we’re talking about here. They’re not just a government-sponsored marksmanship club.

        Marines do a lot of things that don’t fall under the category of “common sense.” Like assault fortified beaches, drive into urban combat, jump out of perfectly good aircraft, etc.

        What would you safety nannies do? Have a regulation where Marines can’t return fire until they have their eye and ear protection on? And give them an Article 15 when they don’t?

        • We’re talking about civilians on the range. But I would have Marines wear eye and ear protection when training (for the most part). Why would you want to risk their health before combat?

        • Because you fight as you train. And there’s far bigger things to worry about on a battlefield than eye protection.

          Years ago, when I took a shooting course from Jim Cirillo (look him up if you don’t know who Jim was), Jim told us of a dead cop in NYC who was found with an empty revolver and a bunch of loose change by his body.

          Upon investigation, Jim thought it was highly likely that even tho the officer had speed loaders on his belt, the reaction of reaching into his pocket for ammo was caused by a NYPD rangemaster at that time, who insisted that you pull loose rounds out of one pocket after having put your spent brass in the other pocket. He was a neat freak about not having empty brass on the floor of “his” range, you see.

          It was conjectured that, in the stress of the shootout, the dead officer reverted to what he knew from the range: Trying to load his revolver from his pocket with whatever was in there – which in that moment, wasn’t ammo, but loose change. Such are the seemingly inconsequential things that can matter in the moment…

    • I need to make an amendation of my comments. Recently, it has been the new combat standard to wear eye protection in combat. But this is not because something could happen to your eyes from your own gun. It’s part of the whole armor concept we have nowadays to protect from explosions.

      But just exactly what is the risk? The only thing I can think of is if lubricant sprays in your eye. Otherwise, you’d have to have a major malfunction of the weapon to make eye protection a benefit. It can happen, but it’s extremely rare.

      I don’t criticize people for wearing eye protection, but it’s not like wearing a seat belt. It’s not like wearing a bicycle helmet. It’s more like putting roll bars on a street car. Sure, they might protect you, but they’re not likely to.

      • There’s always the chance of frags if you are either shooting steel or if there are rocks anywhere in the backstop. I was taking a class last November and had a guy a couple spots down from me catch a frag right on his cheek bone. It definitely cut him, and it was just below the edge of his shooting glasses. In this case we weren’t shooting steel, so it either came from a berm over or came off a rock or something in our backstop.

        Oh yeah, and I have definitely caught brass off my shooting glasses from the guy next to me at the range. Without barriers between people, there is a lot of stuff flying around that you’re not going to see before it hits you.

    • Yeah, I never wore eye protection on the rifle range, and neither did almost every other marine on the range. I never saw a single eye injury.

      • ALTHOUGH, I did once see a female marine have a negligent discharge and almost shoot her self in the foot. She then proceeded to cry, and was somehow not kicked off the range.

  2. Come on Farago!!!! I typically enjoy all of your posts, however, this one is ridiculous. What do you honestly think is going to happen…. raging hot boiling CLP is going to blow back into Jane Wayne’s eyeballs while the brass ejects and pokes out the eye of another shooter next to her? I’v watched hundreds of thousands of 55 grains of death fly down range… you know how many eye injuries I have seen…… well…. none. Don’t bash my beloved Corps… especially if your not a part of it. Thank you, and I hope you are not too offended by this.

  3. While training in marksmanship in the USMC we were never required to wear eye protection. We did always wear ear protection. I see the need more with pistol shooting or shooting steel targets where there is a larger chance of fragmented debri, but I don’t recall ever seeing any eye related injuries.

    In fact the most dangerous part of the range when I was in was pulling targets. A friend of mine still has limited use of his right hand from an accident in the pits.

  4. Interesting comments from the Devil Dogs. My culture and pessimistic attitude are slightly different. In the Navy they would take a Sailor to article 15 or scream at him or her for not wearing the safety glasses and then let the spouses and Commanding Officer shoot without them or hearing protection.

    I don’t like to, but I wear mine. Never saw a single reason to do so with years of mortar, M2, M16, M14, M9 Mk25 or any of many more or even in my personal shooting either, but that is what I do. However, to me the continual bashing of media by chair-a-troopers on the subject is just stupid. Get off the couch and go shoot.

    happy shooting, dv

  5. I rarely if ever wear eye protection when shooting. Generally only when someone makes a fuss about it, which is also pretty rare. The exception is in bright sunlight at outdoor ranges, but then it’s sunglasses and has crap all to do with safety.

    I’ve never experienced, seen, or even heard about an eye injury while shooting that a few bucks worth of cheap plastic would have prevented.

    • I’ve also never worn or seen anyone wear non-prescription eye protection at any range I’ve ever been to. Ear protection all around, but no eye protection. No injuries observed to date.

  6. Eye protection for military shooters is a relatively new thing – I’d say less than 10 years old. I’ve safetied’ and even run military ranges for M16/M4, M9 and M60/M249 and eye protection was never a requirement.

    Of course, being as how these were all outside and often on sunny days, most people wore sunglasses (including me.)

    Nevertheless, I think some civilians would be a little shocked at how many of the common “safety practices” the military ignores. I spent a couple of years driving around in a little M151 Jeep. No roll bar, just a post in the center for a machine gun. No seat belts. And the only thing holding the passenger in is a canvas “safety strap” across the door.

    In states where it’s illegal to have any passenger ride in the cargo compartment of a pickup truck, the military routinely transports troops in the open cargo beds of HMMWVs, Deuce-and-a-half’s and 5 tons, again with nothing to protect them from falling out except a hilariously named “safety strap.”

    Bottom line of all this is that “safety” has a different meaning in the military.

  7. ditto the other Devil Dogs in the room here.

    Never had eye protection. Worst I got from it was a a teary right eye from overzealous application of CLP before qual day when doing standing-to-prone.

    Running around and shooting with relatively close backstops at an IDPA or USPSA match I understand why eye protection is a good idea. There are rocks and all sorts of crap in those berms and I have heard things go whizzing by from time-to-time.

    But at the long ranges we are talking about here and also standing still at an indoor range killing paper it seems silly to me.


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