GOGGLE SAFETY AND MAINTENANCE


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INTRODUCTION

Use only approved goggles for paintball. Paintball goggles are engineered to withstand multiple impacts of paintballs at close range (the worse case scenario, of course). Nothing else is designed or capable of doing this. Don't use shop goggles, welding masks, scuba masks, safety glasses, sun glasses, cling wrap, or anything else. Wear a full face mask with temple and ear protection.

Look for the ATSM label on the packaging

MAINTAINING GOGGLES

Maintaining your goggles properly is as important as goggle safety itself, in fact it's part-and-parcel of goggle safety. No longer is it the simple "goggles on -- goggles off" lecture.

Keep your goggles separated from the rest of your gear. That is to say, don't pack them in with your loaders, tanks, paintmarker and other equipment. The goggles should have their own hard-sided, or semi-hard-sided, case. When you're going to the field, carry the goggle bag on your lap, don't toss it in the trunk or the back seat. Unless you're driving, of course. In that case, put them on the seat next to you, or on the lap of the person in that seat. (IF they complain, just tell them there's no such thing as a free ride.)

Even if the goggles are in a case, you should cover the lenses. I have a really cool bit of vinyl that electrostatically adheres to the lenses. (I think it's a Gogglid, but I'm not sure. The manufacturer of the goggles recommended one, so I got one.) Other players wrap and tie a bandanna around the goggles, to cover the lenses. This is done so the interior of the bag or case does not brush against the goggles and scratch the lenses.

Get a visor for your goggles. Not just to keep the sun out of your eyes, or to lesson UV exposure. The visor's best job is one that it was never designed for! If you have a visor on your goggles and you drop them, the visor prevents the lenses from hitting the ground. This helps prevent scratching on the lenses.

Follow all manufacturer's instructions on the care and cleaning of your lenses and goggles. DO NOT USE any cleaner or anti-fog chemicals that are not specifically recommended by the manufacturer of THE GOGGLES. Never mind what the manufacturer of the cleaner or no-fog treatment says. The GOGGLE MANUFACTURER will know for sure. If they say they aren't sure, don't use it.

Many recommend you change your lenses every time you take a hit on them. This is a good idea; however, it's expensive. (I'm not about to tell you how to spend your money.) Neither am I saying you shouldn't follow this advice. If you don't, you should AT LEAST check the lenses to see if they are still securely in the frame and that they have not been damaged. When you get back to camp, give them a good going over. If you even THINK the lenses may not be up to the job they're intended to do, replace them. How much are your eyes worth?

I heard a very good line once, during a field's orientation briefing. It stuck with me for a long time (since 1991). "If you remove your goggles in the playing area, you will have the chance to sit out the next game and ponder all the things you can't do, with only one eye."

Bring extra water to rinse your goggles between games, should you have to clean a large "glob" of paint off of them. To prevent someone, or yourself, from drinking this water use a trick I learned. I get my water from the toilet bowl and label the container as such. I've never been thirsty enough to drink that water, I don't care what water my dog likes. Seriously, extra water will come in handy for rinsing paint marks off the lenses and mask. It's better than trying to wipe it off with paper towels and spend the rest of the day looking through that "waxed paper" residue the paint leaves behind on your lenses. That, in itself, is unsafe.

Clean your goggles thoroughly AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME. Other stuff can wait, but paint will slowly "eat away" at the lenses. Pop the lenses out (as per manufacturer's instructions) and give the frames a good rinse, making sure there is no paint in the "channel" the lenses sit in. Some goggle frames can be tossed into the washing machine, check with the manufacturer. Remember to take the lenses out first.

Keep the goggle bag clean and dry. Shake it out and make sure there are no small rocks/dirt/sand/twigs, etc. This will keep foreign objects from scratching your lenses while they are in your case, during the inevitable jostling of transport.

The very LAST thing you should throw, when you're mad, is your goggles. Throw a loader, a knee pad, a tube, a team mate's paintmarker anything but your goggles. If you break your knee pad, you can still play, if you damage your lenses, it's game over.

Which brings us to our last point. Always carry an extra set of lenses. Some goggle bags have an area for them. If not, find a sturdy cardboard box to put them in. They're no good if they get broken or scratched.

So take care of your goggles and they will take care of you. Remember, you only get one set of eyes from the factory, and they're not under warranty.

REMOVING YOUR GOGGLES

NEVER take your paintball goggles off in the playing area. There is no reason. Keep them on. If your lenses fog up, call yourself out. If you can't see, you shouldn't be playing.

There are areas designated as "plugs in -- no shooting" where you are allowed to remove your goggles. Refer to your local field rules.

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