I had a very rare free night last week that enabled me to go blow off a little steam at the range. It had been a while since I had had a chance to play with my Ruger 22/45. Several months, in fact. I had upgraded the sights to the fiber optic front/v-notch rear sights that come standard on the Mark III Hunter sometime since the last range trip, and I was anxious to get it zeroed and see how they performed.
More importantly, I was anxious to see how I would perform. And not just because of the cobwebs that accumulate on the skills from lack of use either. The reason for the anxiousness (and the upgraded sights) is that my eyesight has been slowly getting worse, and I needed to see if the new sights would help or make things worse.
After reveling in perfect to near perfect eyesight all my life, I was slightly dismayed a few years ago to get the verdict from the eye doc that I was now farsighted with 20/25 vision. Okay, that's not the end of the world and well short of being legally blind. What he didn't tell me (or, perhaps, I didn't hear) was that presbyopia comes with the aging process.
Why is this important to shooters, you might ask? (you really should be asking, by the way)
For those not yet initiated or familiar with this "harmless" condition, presbyopia "is a condition associated with aging in which the eye exhibits a progressively diminished ability to focus on near objects." (source Wikipedia) See where this is going yet (no pun intended)? Yep, for me, everything inside of arm's length (and I've got a pretty generous wingspan), more or less, is a blur. That includes the front sight on most weapons.
Yes, my love affair with parentheticals marches on gleefully unabated (I would seek therapy, but where's the fun in that?)
Anywho, the sight upgrade was an experiment to see if the fiber optic front sight would stand out better to my, now less capable, eyes than the standard black front blade sight since focusing on the front sight is one of the cornerstones of proper marksmanship fundamentals.
And the short answer is...not so much.
In fact, if anything, the bright red front fiber optic sight was BLURRIER than the standard, black, front blade sight. Of course, that could just be my perception/memory from the last range trip many moons ago.
The blurriness made sighting in a chore until I bowed to the inevitable and put my cheater readers on under my safety glasses. It was a little awkward, but man was that front sight SHARP with the cheaters on. Of course, with the cheaters on, there was no distinguishing the point of aim at the target except in the most general sense of the word. There was a target shaped blob down range. Beyond that, it was put the front sight in the general middle and hope for the best.
So, no, there will be no photos of targets today.
I will, gratefully, tell you that all rounds found the target. I could manage a quarter sized hole at 3 yards. At 7 yards, the dispersion was not hideous with some rounds touching and others at least in the same zip code. At 15 yards, things were starting to really open up a bit (though not quite to shotgun pattern status), and I didn't press my luck at 20 yards.
That brings us to the $64,000 question of what do I (or anyone else with a similar problem) do about it.
The most expensive option is Lasik surgery. Not in the cards for me right now.
Next up is eyewear. Progressive (i.e. bifocals and no line bifocals) lenses are supposedly a viable workaround for the problem. I will be discussing this with my eye doc the next time I see which will be after I get a full time job again with the associated health and vision coverage.
Another option is to go with optics. The 22/45 has a rail on it which Ruger thoughtfully included in the box. I have a cheap red dot that I bought for it. Let's just say I was underwhelmed (perhaps I need to revisit it again with a renewed interest).
Red dots have their pluses and minuses like any other system. All but the best can be prone to washing out in bright sunlight. They require batteries (unless you want to drop over $1000 on an ACOG). Depending on the dot size, they are less precise than scopes. On the plus side, they put the target and the reticle on more or less the same focal plane which is where they become of interest to me. For a competition or bedside gun, this may not be a bad option.
Since this is not a home defense or low light gun, a handgun scope may be a better solution for this particular gun. Scopes are great for precision. Speed...not so much. Perhaps with practice, speed would improve. Then again, perhaps speed is overrated since the objective is to put rounds on target with precision.
Bottomline, if you are middle aged or getting there as fast as you can, it's probably a good idea to start thinking about how your eyesight is going to change as you age and how it will impact your ability to shoot. There are solutions, but you need to think about which will be the best for you for each application.