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Eyes and ears.


Local gun shops and sporting goods stores are a gathering place for shooting enthusiasts of all kinds. And in nearly every store and shop, whether large or small, there are a couple of guys that are practically fixtures.

The first guy, known as "Scarface" is in his fifties. He got his moniker when an old firearm exploded while he was test firing it. He was left without sight in his right eye, and a scar that runs from his hairline down to his chin - he was lucky to have survived. He wasn't wearing a set of shooting glasses, either.

The second fellow, called "Whaddja Say?", is an older gentlemen. He only hears one word out of ten because he categorically refuses to wear any sort of hearing protection device when he's on the range - never has and never will. Consequently, he's got a severe hearing loss which he won't admit to. And even if you could get him to acknowledge his loss, you'd never convince him it was a result of shooting without ear plugs or muffs.

Fortunately, this out-moded, macho attitude of not protecting your ears and eyes while on the range is going the way of the dinosaur. Safety is important to today's shooters. Oh sure, there are a few diehards who'll never be convinced that eye and ear protection is smart. But you don't see as many of them as you used to.

The "Scarfaces" and "Whaddja Says" have set a pretty good example of what not to do on the shooting range. Modern day shooters are embracing the idea of eye and ear protection. They recognize that they're only going to get one set of eyes and ears, and it's up to them to protect these organs.

This change in attitude toward eye and ear protection is a fairly recent phenomenon - and benefits both shooters and retailers. Mike Ochoa, assistant product line manager for Bushnell notes, "Most ranges now require both protective eye and ear devices. These requirements are forcing shooters to make conscientious purchases of shooting glasses and ear protection." A spokesman for Bausch & Lomb concurs, "With heightened awareness of safe participation in the sport, the result of shooting associations rules and regulations, and hunter safety programs, shooting glasses are recognized as the best protection against eye hazards."

Garry Gordon, president of E.A.R. Inc., and a recreational shooter himself, has also observed the trend toward the use of protective hearing devices. "Shooting instructors, range masters, and gun club owners have made hearing protection mandatory, especially for those on the shooting line."

The savvy retailer can capitalize on this increased concern with protective devices.

In case they don't already know, make your customers aware, for instance, that noise induced hearing loss is a cumulative process. It can creep up so gradually the shooter never knows it's happening.

Chances are your customers know that damage to the eyes is sudden and catastrophic, rather than slow. But it pays for you to have this knowledge at your fingertips, and offer it freely to your clientele.

By being well-informed about the hazards of doing without eye or ear protection, and stocking an adequate supply of both, you offer the kind of service mass merchants can't provide. And bolster your sales of ear plugs, ear valves, ear muffs, and shooting glasses at the same time!

While your customers may realize how important eye and ear protection is, they may not know which type of protection is the best for them. That's where you come in.

Shooting glasses and ear protection devices can be high margin items for you (30-50%), and are must have items for your customers. If you're not carrying a full line of eye and ear protection devices, you're cheating yourself, and your clientele. As long as you're knowledgeable about how these devices work, and show your customers how to choose the right ones, you'll see sales in this area increase. Your clientele will come to depend on you as the resident expert, and they'll keep coming back to you again and again for their shooting needs.

You should, for example, sell a protective device every time you sell a firearm. As a matter of fact, you'll realize a greater profit from the sale of shooting glasses, ear plugs, or ear muffs than you will from that firearm.

At the very least, inquire if your customer already has them. If he doesn't, point out why shooters' eye and ear protection devices are just as vital as the gun itself.

Any customer walking into your shop is a candidate for ear protection or shooting glasses. Even if they already have this equipment, your knowledge of the latest devices makes an upgrade sale likely.

Generally speaking, there are three kinds of ear protection: ear plugs, ear valves, and ear muffs. Choosing the right one is simply a function of where and how your customer is shooting. This is where knowing your clientele is especially important, because you'll be able to point them to the ear protection that best fits their needs.

Ear plugs are perfect for the guy who's going to the local range to shoot a few rounds. They fill the ear canal, totally blocking out any incoming noise. Most ranges stock foam ear plugs, so you might want to handle a higher grade of plugs for your customers, such as those offered by Silencio, E.A.R. Cabot, Hoppes, and others.

Insta-Mold from E.A.R. Inc. is a step-up from ordinary ear plugs. Each silicone plug is custom-fitted to the individual's ear canal and totally blocks out all noises. While these are an excellent device, they're not for everyone.

The competitive shooter needs to hear commands from the range officer, as well as block out the sounds of gunfire. The answer to his problem is ear valves. Although outwardly they resemble ear plugs, ear valves have built-in baffles, like the Sonic 11 from North Consumer Products, to filter out the sounds of guns being fired, but allowing commands to be heard.

Several ear muff manufacturers have incorporated the valve concept into their devices. Silencio's Rangesafe RSX-85, for instance, amplifies low-level sounds such as commands and conversations, but filters out the sound of guns being fired. This idea has caught on with both shooters and manufacturers, and Bilsom and E.A.R. Cabot are also offering similar products.

Your brand of personal attention to your customers really stands out when it comes to choosing a set of shooting glasses. You're in the right position to advise on the proper color. The wrong color can lead to eye fatigue, and eventually serious eye damage.

The greens and grays are usually classed together. They cut glare tremendously, and are in the middle range of human eye sight.

Amber and yellow, like those from Pachmayr's Pro-Line, are contrast enhancers, great for brightening dull, dingy, overcast days on the range, and shooting indoors. Don't ever use them in bright sunlight, though.

Vermilion enhances detail and depth perception by increasing color contrast in the red/orange family, and by brightening fluorescent colors. These are perfect for trapshooters, but should not be worn for long periods of time.

Clear glasses, like the SVS Shooting Glasses from Silencio or the All Arounds from North Consumer Products, serve the need for eye safety with no effect on color or light intensity. They're just right for the indoor shooter or home reloader.

Bushnell's Ochoa sees a growing trend toward interchangeable lenses in shooting glasses, "A current trend in shooting glasses is the use of interchangeable lenses. These glasses allow the shooter to purchase one pair and change the lenses to the color demanded by shooting conditions, rather than owning several pairs."

Chimere, recognizing the changing conditions dedicated shooting enthusiasts must face, markets the Quick Change Shooting Glasses, with four sets of interchangeable lenses ranging from bronze to yellow to violet to vermillion. Virtually any lighting situation the shooter will encounter.

Oakley also offers the Blades line with interchangeable polycarbonate lenses in gray, bronze, clear, yellow, rust or irridium.

Tasco, a long time supplier of shooting glasses, has their 1200 series. Light in weight (1-oz.) and available in five lens colors; amber, vermillion, yellow, smoke and clear, they too are made of tough polycarbonate.

The increasing demand by shooters for protective eye wear has prompted manufacturers to improve the comfort level of shooting glasses. Bushnell, for instance, offers German cable temples on their Polyguard Shooting Glasses. This is a specially treated wire that enhances the fit of the glasses, especially behind the ears.

Chimere has padded temple pieces that grip the ear with a gentle pressure. Tasco has a three-position flexible nylon temple, a one-piece silicone nose pad and a foam brow bar.

Olympic ends the wires in a ball rather than a raw cut, and slips vinyl tubes in place to cushion the ear piece.

Simmons coats the wires with vinyl, so there are no raw ends.

The Oakley Blades line comes with graphite frames, a choice of nose pieces, and straight or curved ear stems.

It makes sense to stock both high and low end shooting glasses. Hoppe's Sporting Glasses, for instance, have polycarbonate lenses and come in their own hard plastic case. Marksman Products also has a high impact, scratch resistant model with protective side panels molded directly to the stem. Marksman's eyewear comes in adult and youth sizes. These two will satisfy anyone's low end needs.

Both shooting glasses and ear protection devices are going to the range more frequently than ever before. If you're savvy enough, you'll find yourself in the right place at the right time, with adequate supplies of both and the expertise to advise your customers on making the most informed choices.

PHOTO : Tasco's 1200 Series is light in weight and available in five lens colors.

PHOTO : E-A-R's two newest products for shooting enthusiasts: Ultra [TM] 9000 noise activated earmuff and UltraFit premolded earplugs

PHOTO : Silencio's POP display gives the consumer a choice of plugs or muffs or both.

PHOTO : Simmons' fine line of glasses feature vinyl-coated bows for the shooter's comfort. They are available in several styles and colors.

PHOTO : Bushnell's Sportview [TM] Shooting Glasses are a perennial favorite of the sportsman.

PHOTO : E-A-R Insta-Mold offers custom fitted comfort and protection.

PHOTO : Pachmayr offers their glasses in several colors and include a padded case for protection.

PHOTO : Oakley's Blades have interchangeable polycarbonate lenses in gray, bronze, clear, yellow, rust or iridium. The bows are also interchangeable and are offered in several colors.

PHOTO : North markets a "Hearing Protection Kit" that has plugs, valves and muffs in one package for the buyer.

PHOTO : Bilsom makes hearing protection convenient with their versatile PerFit [R] plugs.

PHOTO : Hoppes' Sporting Glasses are high-quality, low-cost items that make eye protection affordable for all.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:eye/ear protection for target shooting
Author:Elliott, Brook; Elliott, Barbara
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Oct 1, 1989
Previous Article:The NASGW Hunting Show.
Next Article:1989 footwear and waders for hunters.

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