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Old December 10, 2014, 02:31 PM   #1
Join Date: January 3, 2003
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Old eyes

A buddy of mine complained his "old eyes" just couldn't make out the sights on his Marlin 30-30 lever action rifle and we discussed remedies.

He wasn't interested in putting a 'scope on top of it and asked about fiber optic front sights. I pointed out that a blurry bright orange dot in the "V" might not do him a lot of good. I did point him to rear peep sights that might serve to sharpen his focus.

What advice do ya'll have that doesn't putting a scope on top of the gun?
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Last edited by hso; December 10, 2014 at 09:27 PM.
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Old December 10, 2014, 02:41 PM   #2
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A trip to an Optometrist.

I would have had to stop shooting open sights years ago were it not for seamless bifocals.

There is a sweet spot there somewhere.
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Old December 10, 2014, 03:03 PM   #3
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Ghost sights. Really a large rear peep sight. William's sells 'em. Not made for target accuracy, but Bambi isn't that. And a trip to an Optometrist.
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Old December 10, 2014, 03:06 PM   #4
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Something similar to RC's method is a set of under powered readers. If, for example, he uses 2.5x to read then using 1.25 so he sees the front sight more clearly while not making the target TOO blurry might work. It's working for a buddy of mine at least.

And yes, a rear mounted small aperture rear sight does aid with sharpening up the vision. The smaller the hole the more the improvement. But it has to be a hole back near the shooter's eye and not a round hole up where the original rear sight was placed.

He can try this for himself for almost free. A piece of any old sheet metal cut into a strip and with a bend on one end. Punch or drill a CLEAN round 1/16 inch hole in the bent up end and tape or tie the new "sight" to the receiver so the bent up tab with the hole is back near the hammer. Now get him to look through that hole and at the front sight and a distant target like object. If things are again clear enough to be good enough then a Williams or Skinner rear peep on the receiver is just the thing. If it helps but it's still not good enough then it may be scope time for him.

And old soup or been can, some tin snips and a drill along with a black felt pen is all that's needed to test it out.
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Old December 10, 2014, 03:17 PM   #5
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I'm 61, been wearing glasses since I was 6, I can still shoot coyotes and hogs on the run with my mini 14 and my .308 M1A with iron sights....towards dark it gets a little harder but can still make 300-400 yard shots with the M1A.
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Old December 10, 2014, 03:22 PM   #6
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Does that mean you are offering to go out and shoot for him?

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Old December 10, 2014, 03:32 PM   #7
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Old eyes with a rifle? I can't tilt my head back like I could with a pistol, so even with a good eye prescription of progressives or trifocals I prefer a receiver mounted aperture sight. Not a barrel mounted aperture, a receiver mounted aperture.

Even then, ghost rings don't provide the focus I need to see the front sight clearly. So, my preference is an aperture set up where you can change the aperture size. That way, you can go for a smaller aperture in bright light and get all that extra pinhole effect focus help. On dim or darker conditions, swap out the aperture for a larger size that lets through more light.

I have Williams rear apertures on two of my rifles. The aperture is quickly changed depending on the day. Carry a spare in a different size if needed.

I'm sure anything like that will work, such as Lyman and maybe even a receiver mounted Skinner.
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Old December 10, 2014, 03:35 PM   #8
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If you can't see very well, you need glasses. Different sights or higher contrast sights might help a little. I can't see very well. I need glasses.

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Old December 10, 2014, 03:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sunray View Post
I like that set up. It gives the option of a small optic like a red dot if need be.
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Old December 10, 2014, 03:45 PM   #10
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I have the same problem.

Updating one's prescription with the optometrist is important. Before we know it, it's been more than a year since the last visit and things need updating.

An aperture sight helps a lot. This reduces the focal points from 3 to 2. Really helps.

Another option is to put a red dot sight forward of the receiver, replacing the leaf rear sights. This keeps the action clear and open and reduces the focal point to one. With zero magnification and out of the way placement, I wouldn't consider the red dot to be a "scope" on a lever action. More like a really good open sight that requires batteries.
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Old December 10, 2014, 03:50 PM   #11
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I agree with Readyeddy. Peep sight and updated continuous bifocals has made the difference for me.

I will never shoot my target rifles as accurately as I used too even with a peep, but at least it is still fun and I only have a few scopes.
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Old December 10, 2014, 03:58 PM   #12
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Since I am far sighted I save my older "cheater" readers and then try out which works best to help focus the sights and still see the target.
Peep and ghost sights are also on a few of my rifles.

But I am way overdue to see the danged eye doctor...
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Old December 10, 2014, 04:04 PM   #13
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Unfortunately, the eyesight tends to deteriorate as we get older. For most, if it has not happened already, it probably will at some point. For many, the tipping point comes sometime in one's forties.

I have worn eyeglasses for an astigmatism since I was in fourth grade. So long as I wore them, it never affected my ability to shoot. In the last six months, though, my short-distance vision (arms length out to 15-20 feet) has really deteriorated. On my last visit to the pistol range, I first encountered an inability to focus on the front sight. My optometrist says the vision of my youth is gone. I am patiently waiting for a set of progressive bifocals to be made with my new prescription. I am encouraged by rcmodel's comments. I am hopeful that my new eyeglasses will do the trick.
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Old December 10, 2014, 04:11 PM   #14
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My eyes are 67 years old. I'll croak before I put a scope on my rifles. Just won't do it. Scopes, for me, are fun to play with at the range, but for hunting, they take the sport out of it.

I have a muzzleloader with fiber optic sights. Can't see them worth a hoot, because the rear sight is just a fuzzy mass of green; however, the front fiber optic is clear. I must figure a way to get an aperture for the rear.

My single shot 45/70 has a 32" barrel. It wears a peep rear and a brass blade on the front. Very clear sight picture.

I think the ideal sighting system is a rear peep and a fiber optic front.
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Old December 10, 2014, 04:25 PM   #15
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My eyes are 67 years old. I'll croak before I put a scope on my rifles. Just won't do it. Scopes, for me, are fun to play with at the range, but for hunting, they take the sport out of it.
So, toss your guns and buy a recurve bow.

I have hunted with scopes since the age of 11. Actually, I put a cheap .22 scope on my .22 when I was 10. I've killed game with iron sights, but i don't think it's the only way because iron sights compensate for my lowered testosterone levels or something.

A ghost ring aperture helps aging eyes a lot, but when that sun is low in the shadows of the forest, it don't help THAT much. A scope, a good one, will extend your evening hunt or start your morning hunt earlier when the deer tend to move.
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Old December 10, 2014, 04:31 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by short barrel View Post

My single shot 45/70 has a 32" barrel. It wears a peep rear and a brass blade on the front. Very clear sight picture.
That's another good point. Front sights way out there on long barrels are easier for me to see even with a blade rear sight. It's about 24" and longer that I start to see a benefit.

Now, if only we can get that Marlin lever gun mentioned in the first post rebarreled.
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Old December 10, 2014, 07:56 PM   #17
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I have a lot of experience of dealing with eyesight as you get older. The first thing is to go to your optometrist and hope they can correct your vision to 20/20. With that accomplished you still have the problem that as you get older your pupils adjust slowly to changes in light intensity and they focus slower. Most people have problems driving at night when they get older and the same problem affects your shooting skills. Even with good eyeglasses I couldn't hunt with a rifle without a scope. The older I get the higher power that I use. I used to shoot mostly with a 4X but now I use a variable and use 6X for most shots and even higher if my target is standing still. You have to adjust your shooting methods to what your eyes will allow.
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Old December 10, 2014, 08:34 PM   #18
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Those who suggested a visit to the eye Doctor have it right. I have only had one working eye since I was 2 years old so I have an annual eye exam on the good one. I am now 60 years old and can shoot with open sights while wearing my glasses on targets out to 600 yards. If you are having trouble focusing then do something about it rather than bitching on the internet......
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Old December 10, 2014, 08:52 PM   #19
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Steel Horse Rider...

While your advice is perhaps spot on, the tail end of that was a little "low road."

I know it's sometimes hard to convey a certain ribbing-type jest with text only messages, but one has to keep in mind the person on the receiving end may not read what you wrote the same way you were feeling when you typed it. They might, in fact, feel that you are being condescending, and take offense to it.

Back to the topic, I have the same problem but it's caused by an aggressive correction of long range vision. I'm horribly near sighted. Without corrective vision the front sight falls in to a "sweet spot" of perfect clarity; but there is simply no target to be found! Everything is a complete blur past 20 feet. (I'm 20/600 in my dominant eye).

With the level of correction I need to actually see the target (and have it merely blur when I focus on the front sight, instead of entirely disappear on me), focusing on the front sight, which is naturally in my 'sweet spot' of perfect vision, becomes an eye-strain-ordeal-from-hell.

If I focus on the front sight for more than a few seconds at any given time, it grows increasingly uncomfortable and will eventually hurt, leading to nasty headaches.

Between slow fire shots on matches, I lower my head to rest my neck, close my eyes, and listen to my heartbeat for entertainment. 5-10 seconds later I'll raise my head, get a cheek weld again, align my sights, and take another shot. The entire process takes maybe 30 seconds per shot, and I have to be *meticulously* careful about my cheek weld and sight alignment each time I re-establish a cheek weld.

It took me a couple of years of practice to finally get the process down to the point that I'm shooting high master scores with irons. My scores in the beginning of across the course were abysmal, because I'd either try to focus on that front sight too long, causing eye strain (which takes a lot of time to reverse), or get my cheek weld / sight alignment slightly off each time I re-established it between shots.

Anyway, if you are artificially correcting your vision at close distances to get a sharp front sight picture, don't do it at the expense of long range vision; an overly blurry target means you can't get a center hold. Also be mindful of eye strain, and be aware of how it feels, and what the detrimental effects are on sustained fire (and sight focus) over a period of time.

ETA: My attempts at no-line bifocals were equally bad. Parallax on the two different focal planes can cause you to see a sight picture which is "false", especially compounded by prism effect (tilting the lenses in relation to the sights as you obtain a cheek weld).

Custom shooting glasses exist which allow you to tilt that corrective lens to be at perfect perpendicular plane in relation to the sight line, which will eliminate prism effects and false parallax "views", but they are damn expensive. I've just learned to "deal with it", but if I were to engage in higher levels of competition beyond club events, they'd probably be necessary to get me in to the X ring more reliably.
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Old December 10, 2014, 08:55 PM   #20
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chich, I don't think I'll be "tossing" my guns out and getting a recurve bow. That's just silly, mainly because my shoulders won't stand up to a bow anymore. In my younger days, I killed plenty of deer with a longbow and wooden arrows. A deer is very easy to kill, and I don't need a scope to do it. But that's just me.
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Old December 10, 2014, 09:10 PM   #21
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Trip to the optometrist explaining your needs should really help.

And a nice set of sights from Marbles or Williams. Check Midway or Brownells.
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Old December 10, 2014, 09:13 PM   #22
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We keep a computer pintout of an eye chart on the wall. Helps you decide whether to go in or not.

For the budget minded, a trip to walmart can give you the prescription and pupil distance ( a lot of their optometrists are moonlighting trying to pay off student loans). Then a visit to one of the online sites can get you a pair of progressive seamless bifocals with all the coatings and titanium frames for less than 75 bucks (often to near 50 bucks with a coupon) in about 2 weeks and you can pay with paypal. Most made in china last time we checked. Pays to do online research first as always. It's been 3 or 4 years since we last checked prices though. OYE
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Old December 10, 2014, 09:28 PM   #23
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Ha. I am 63. I am proud of you guys who refuse to hunt with a scope. You have no idea how much game you do not see because of limited vision...not that it matters to me. Lots of cheap talk on the internet. If we are shooting running pigs at 50 yds then I will take the open sights also.
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Old December 10, 2014, 09:46 PM   #24
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Presbyopia (Greek for "old man sight") is the inability to change focal length knows as "accomodation" (due to stiffening of the lens). We are born with about 15 diopters of accomodation and that decreases to about 3 by age 45 and 2 by age 50. Assuming one is neither near or far sighted, three diopters of accomodation will barely allow you to focus at 1/3 meter from the eye and two dipoters will allow you to foucus only as close as 1/5 meter from the eye. Add to this the natural tendency to become farsighted as one ages and this gets even worse.

Peep sight buy you time as the rear sight does not have to be in focus and if your accomodation can still focus on the front sight you are fine. The average 70 year-old should still be able to focus on a front sight about 1 meter in front of the eye.

Moving the head to use different parts of progressive lenses for the target, front and rear sight in anethetical to a good cheek weld. You may be able to fine a good compormise area of your lenses but this will slow how quckly you can aquire the sights and may be different standing, seated, and prone.

Ultimately something that puts everything on the same focal plane (scope, reflex sight, holographic sight) is the best way to go if you are not a total stick in the mud. I already gave in to this more than a year ago.

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Old December 10, 2014, 10:00 PM   #25
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Tried progressive lenses and they weren't for me. Bifocals were better but have there own issues. Contact lenses helped me a lot. For a while I used separate lenses for shooting. Right eye corrected for far sight and left eye for near sight. Not bad actually as long as you shoot with both eyes open. Very annoying otherwise.

Now I just use contacts that correct for nearsightedness and preffer peep sights.
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