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Lens Color Guide for Sporting Clays and Trap Shooting

Introduction to lens colors for shooting Clay Pigeons

Every shooter is looking for an edge. In the case of competitive shooting sports, that edge can be minuscule and still make a major impact. Looking for advantages and improvements across the board is important. This article is about how to pick a lens color and a pair of shooting glasses that can positively impact your shooting in the “orange” shooting sports. We think we can set the stage to give you the kind of information that is necessary to make a proper, informed decision about shooting glasses.

In this article, we will talk a little bit about science, a little bit about intuition a little bit about art and a little bit about tradition. Taken as a whole, the information contained within this article about picking a lens for sport shooting including clays, skeet and trap should be sufficient to make a winning decision.

At the end of this article, you should be able to determine which exact glasses make the most sense.

The Orange Shooting Sports

What are the orange shooting sports? We’re going to use it as a quick umbrella to put around the shooting sports that use orange clay birds as targets. These sports are generally shot with shotguns and take place outdoors on sprawling ranges. There are generally 4 sports included in this genre and all of them consist of challenges that involve speed, accuracy, and experience/skill. (The first three listed are considered the “Majors”). That means that a tool like a proper pair of glasses with a colored lens that is optimized for the competition can impact the competition in real-time. The skill levels of the shooter can be impacted positively to make a difference in the competition.    

All these sports use a standardized clay disc that is orange or orange and black in color and measures 4 5/16”, with a 1 1/8” thickness.

Standard Orange Clay Disks

The basics of the competitions are as follows:

Skeet Shooting

Established in the Olympic games since 1968 (though many competitions DO NOT adhere to strict Olympic regulations), the sport consists of 2 stations that fling discs of clay at varying degrees/angles and are generally made to push the disc out to 62 yards to 70 yards or so at a high rate of speed (the distance depending on the game regulations of the specific competition).

A shooter attempts to shoot the targets before they move out of effective range or hit the ground. One major focus of the sport is to simulate bird hunting and the action of birds as they fly away from a hunter. The shooter controls the release timing to some extent, with a wait time of between 0 and 3 seconds after they state they desire a pull. Skeet launches clay targets from two stations and generally can intersect and shoot from a mostly “sideways” position relative to the shooter’s position.

Multiple stations are staged for shooters to take shots from to shoot down the simulated birds. These stations generally are formed around a semi-circle and involve up to 8 separate stations. One or two “birds” can be launched with a majority of “singles’ being slung at a rate of about 2 to 1. A round consists of 25 shots.

Sporting Clays

Generally considered “golf with a shotgun”, the game is set up as a series of stages (10-15 usually) that are divided naturally over existing terrain, that in most cases is larger than 35-40 acres of land. The focal point with Sporting Clays is to simulate the unpredictability of hunting and multiple bird types are generally represented in the game including birds that flying along the ground, and in the sky. The game originated at the turn of the 20th century, with the first major sporting competition being held in England in 1925.

The first sanctioned matches in the US began to take off in popularity around 60 years later in 1985. This, despite having a rich history in the USA as a shooting sport for decades before that time.

There are multiple firing conditions but generally, each shooter will take 50-100 shots and shoot 6-10 targets per station. Targets may cross, be shot in tandem, or at the same time from the same position and may follow different arcs, patterns of even be rolled along the ground.

Whereas Skeet generally favors a certain type of gun, and Trap favors a certain type of gun, Sporting Clays can be done with any type of shotgun that can shoot two or more rounds per reloading.

Trap Shooting

Trapshooting positioned a single station to launch targets away from the shooter. This improves consistency and focuses on the shooting portion of the sport. Trapshooting has been part of the Olympic games since 1900 and has a depth of tradition and history in the USA and beyond.

It was originally designed as a supplemental training process to pigeon hunting, and the clays that are launched as targets are referred to as “clay pigeons”. The sport generally favors a 12 gauge shotgun, and no handicap or benefit is given to supplement the choice of a lighter gauge shell, though it can be legally used per the rules to compete.

Because of the angle and position of the “house” trap, the sport is set up to handle rising targets at a longer distance and the equipment reflects this focal point. Depending on the category of competition, there are several variations of flight paths and angles and the number of clays that are thrown as targets.   

Five Stand Competitions

Five Stand Shooting offers a predictable set of targets from five different shooting positions and 6-18 traps (mechanical target throwing machines). The stations simulate a wide variety of angles and animals, including rabbits, teak, and incoming birds. While Five Stand may not be considered a “major” competition it is popular and offers significant variability to test the skills and help shooters optimize experience and skillsets.

All of these sports REQUIRE Ear and Eye protection both in sanctioned and non-sanctioned matches regardless of the specific competition regulations. Proper safety eyewear is essential. Check with your local event or range for specifics.

Not only should you have proper safety equipment, but you should also be opting for ballistic certified shooting glasses because the dangers of eye injuries can be increased during competition shooting of shotguns. We dedicate a section of this article to playing out some of those heightened risks below. Essentially, the volume, closeness to the shooter of the expended cartridges, and the unique makeup of shotshells cause this type of shooting to present an enhanced risk.

Why do you need Specialty Shooting Glasses for different shooting sports or needs?

These shooting sports can be extremely competitive. The best competitors want to remain competitive, so they seek out the optimizations that can help them perform with more consistency, increased speed, and more accurate decision making.

In the case of all of the different shooting sports that exist, there are different purposes for each type of optimization, including glasses and lens color choices. Things like comfort and unobtrusiveness and inherent safety considerations are important aspects that can never be left out of the decision-making process. But when it comes to the nuances and specifics of each type of sport shooting, there are myriad options that present themselves for consideration.   

When hunting, in conditions that are changing constantly, you want different things to be accounted for in your gear than if you are shooting indoors with consistent lighting and target distances and backgrounds. For the orange shooting sports, typically there is a set of products that just fit the task at hand. We will cover these immediately below. The shortest answer is that you want a product that can do the following:

  1. Offer top tier safety and comfort
  2. Adapt to the lighting and background scenarios
  3. Help you gain an advantage in timing and viewport accuracy by improving your recognition of targets
  4. Give immediate results that present actionable data

GruntX glasses tick all of the checkboxes for this type of performance enhancement with shooting glasses

The science behind the lens options for shooting sports

How the light wavelengths work

On the light wavelength spectrum, you have Infrared on one end, and Ultraviolet on the other end of the spectrum. Infrared wavelengths equate to heat and are longer wavelengths. As you move to the opposite end of the spectrum, the wavelengths get shorter. The ultraviolet end of the spectrum contains short wavelengths and the invisible light is dangerous to the eyes. All polycarbonate lenses block 99-100% of UV light by default, generally. You can reference a lens material type of UV400 as a popular and effective option.

Light Spectrum

Both infrared and Ultraviolet light emissions are invisible and both can be harmful in different ways. This varies from eye fatigue by the heat caused by infrared to damage to the eye caused by UV light. In the middle of the spectrum is Visible light.

How human eyes work

The eye works in harmony with the brain to interpret what exists in reality. But in doing so, because the eye has evolved to do certain work, it cannot see everything all at once. The human eye can do a lot, but it isn’t perfect. It also has to rely on the brain to synthetically map the viewport with the inputs it receives to send data to the brain for decision-making in microsecond intervals.

That is: while light, movement, and textures provide inputs, they do not create the full story, so the brain actually makes up some of the data.

The takeaway? The better the inputs, and the higher the accuracy of what you see with regards to light emission, movement, and textures, the better the brain can offer data to enhance decision making. This is how glasses and lens color can positively affect shooting sports performance.

How colors interact with the other components of this visual viewport equation

Quickness and improved data flow to the eyes means better overall interpretation. You can react better with better interpolation between the data you see and what the mind interprets that data as. The better the color enhancement on the target, in the case of these specified shooting sports, the quicker and more holistically you as a shooter, can react to the target.

In the case of the targets in trap, skeet, clays, or five stand, the target is orange, and the background varies. This gives you a handful of options that can each have a meaningful impact on your performance in those given sport shooting scenarios.

Ambient environmental conditions

The background textures, temperatures, air moisture, third party inputs, and other factors can affect your performance. Mitigating at least some portion of these distracting variables will immediately impact performance for the positive. Moisture in the air is tied to the shades of the blue spectrum. Because of this, you can mechanically block them to some extent with glasses. Several of the options we highlight below as the perfect lenses for trap skeet and clays, do this well.

Background lighting factors

The amount of light that exists, to a certain point of oversaturation, can impact what you see, and how fast you can react with viewport data. The viewport of course is the total value of the picture you see when you are viewing your scene. The better the lighting (until it becomes overwhelming) the more accuracy you will have to decipher the imagery. Blocking irritant light, like UV or infrared to comfortable levels enhances performance.

Target colors and how they apply to lens color choices

With the specific case at hand, utilizing an orange moving target, the lens choice will need to enhance your ability to pick up an orange artifact quicker and make a decision based on visual data that comes along with the color, the movement of the target and the textures that accompany it. The sum total of which will equate to perceived potential outcomes, and allow you to react in a way that literally gives you the advantage to foretell where and how you will need to interact with said target.

The case for optimization in your shooting glasses and lenses

Every little bit counts. When you can grab fractions of seconds versus not being able to capitalize on the option, you explore that optimization. Even though from a total scheme perspective a few fractions of a second seem unimpressive.

Further, you must factor into the equation, that the eye and brain are already doing this type of work. The eyes and brain are functioning in microseconds on a regular basis. Those fractions of seconds can give massive improvements to the shooter.

The showstoppers for lens color choice in trap, skeet or clays

There are four colors that make sense for the skeet, trap, and clay shooter, generally. Of those, there are really two that are showstoppers.

Yellow and purple are the obvious standout trap/skeet/clay shooting glasses lens colors of choice. Here is why:

Yellow: The yellow lens can be a major enhancement of the orange target while offering good background performance. This allows the background to meld into itself instead of being enhanced and becoming a distraction.  The quick target acquisition and huge contrast benefits make this color an obvious choice. This especially true for ranges/competitions where the lighting is muted and the glare is already minimized. 

Purple: Purple lenses also enhance the target color of orange. Purple lenses might make the most sense when you are also in need of some glare and light pollution mitigation. An example is where the blue sky is overly bright. Purple lenses mitigate problems caused by green background inclusion too.

Both yellow and purple lenses on shooting glasses can offer considerable value to a trap, skeet, or clay shooter.

The other colors you might consider

There are a couple of other color choices that make a lot of sense too. Even if they don’t offer a ton of improved optimization like yellow and purple, they do have redeeming qualities.

Those colors are amber shades and clear.

Sometimes color isn’t a problem

Clear lenses make sense because many ranges where these types of shooting sports are optimized for clear lenses. These locations where competitions take place are built to enhance the natural environment and minimize distraction. The complexes are built to maximize target acquisition and improve the shooter’s ability to perform well. Because of the optimization of venue and inputs on the competitions, a shooter might opt for the best color accuracy. Clear lenses also offer the least distraction and distortion from any lens that they must be wearing. This makes the case for a lot of shooters for trap, skeet or clays, etc.

Some of the best glasses in the world for shooting with clear lenses are made by GruntX.

Brown and amber shades work very similarly to the purple and yellow lenses respectively. There are also a few other optimization considerations that should be noted, even if they aren’t direct replacements.

Brown and darker amber lenses can improve blue light mitigation, and help with glare better than yellow lenses typically. Additionally, they still offer some orange enhancing properties, which means a target can still jump out a bit more. Remember, a fraction of a second in real-time offers the brain a huge head start on reaction time. This equates to more efficiency in recognizing targets and their movement can lead to huge improvements. Good too, if you are shooting in conditions that have more background light, and you haven’t opted for purple lenses. A great alternative if you feel yellow lenses don’t properly address glare and light emission concerns. Brown or amber lenses can make a lot of sense for those who need glare protection.

Something you should not overlook

Colors are important. They can offer marked improvements for the shooter under specific conditions. But it’s not just about colors and fractional performance improvement. Safety is even more important than performance enhancement. But that’s kind of a misleading statement.

Safety and performance are not mutually exclusive. Add to that, comfort, and you have a trifecta of potential from a single tool in your shooting arsenal: eyewear.

Comfort is a primary performance variable. So is safety. Together, these factors can improve bottom line performance numbers dramatically, without fanfare.

We recommend using these three variables in tandem to extract the most performance improvement. But not one over the other. We would never recommend sacrificing comfort for color enhancement. Nor would we recommend sacrificing rating certification in favor of color enhancement. But we also know with GruntX shooting glasses, and other top tier, world class shooting glasses, you don’t have to sacrifice in any way to get these three factors.

When choosing a pair of safety glasses for trap, skeet shooting, or sporting clays competitions you don’t have to sacrifice. You can get comfort, safety, and lens color in one.

The importance of specifications for glasses during shooting sports

In the case of these shotgun sports, safety certifications can have a drastic impact on your own comfort and ability. The high volume of shots fired and the high amount of debris from shotshells can be problematic. This means you need the best eyewear you can get. Quality eyewear, particularly those that meet the MIL-PRF-32432 standard are obvious choices here. Some reasons why are as follows:

  • A lot of unburnt powder and plastic, copper, and brass debris exist. You will have some risk of getting this debris in your eyes.
  • Sometimes shotshells get ejected close to your face compared to other shooting styles
  • Heat can build up throughout the competition – having mitigation for this heat buildup can become important

Conclusions

You’ve got options when shooting. But options don’t accomplish everything just because they exist. Comfort, safety, and skill enhancement are all necessary factors in choosing shooting glasses. No improvement brought on by lens color is worth sacrificing your eye safety or comfort during a sporting event. But you similarly should never have to forego the absolute, and immediate effects of a properly chosen lens color. Simple color choices can improve your shooting.

For Trap, Skeet, Sporting Clays, Five Stand, and other clay pigeon focused sport shooting needs, there are obvious winning colors. The best lens colors for these sport shooting competitions are as follows: yellow/purple followed by brown/amber and clear. Can you use other colors? Sure, but you won’t get the same benefits as you will with a top choice color.

When you want to optimize your performance on shotgun sport shooting, look to your glasses and their lens color. This can enhance your ability to recognize and act on targets as the pathway to better results. These are immediate, real-time, and measurable results that you can bank on.  

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