Eyewear is the most important protection gear that any airsoft player should always have on hand. I usually bring at least three at any given game as I usually change goggles or protective eyewear immediately whenever one gets hit. Sometimes you will not notice that your eyewear may have been damaged by a projectile since the damage on the lens may be invisible to the human eye. So erring on the side of caution, I just replace one immediately.
As we always stress here in Popular Airsoft, and all airsoft game organisers, that protection and safety are always paramount. We don't care if the eyewear product may be more expensive than some airsoft guns that we use, we should not scrimp on costs. A lost eye is a lost eye. Those who scrimp on costs and buy substandard protection gear are idiots. DIY eyewear protection is a big NO NO.
So what makes us say if the eyewear products in the airsoft market can guarantee such protection? We can say for certainty that many known eyewear makers can give us protection as they have their products certified by standards bodies. But what about those cheap items made in China? For me, buy at your own risk. If there's no CE, avoid it. But you can never tell. We always recommend protective eyewear from known manufacturers that have a track record of providing products to military and law enforcement organisations such as ESS, Revision, Wiley-X, Oakley, etc. Their products may be more on the expensive side, but then eye injuries would be more expensive when treated, or a lost eye is a lost eye forever.
Whilst there are bodies for military and occupational hazard organisations that govern the use protective eyewear, there is none for airsoft. It is always safe to rely on the recommendations by the military, since these have been tested to withstand the rigors of war. But it would always be nice to have such handbook or guidelines for airsoft players to print out and read.
Speaking of which, the Association de Normalisation de l'Airsoft (ANA or Airsoft Association for Normalisation), which is a coordinating body for the promotion of airsoft in France have just issued a document called "Safety Standards and Protective Eyewear". It is a lengthy document, 20 pages long, but it does elucidate the selection and recommendation of standards that should be followed when selecting eyewear for airsoft games. Relying mainly on EU and NATO standards (STANAG), ANA explains the various standards and what should be appropriate for use. The last thing is dependent on the power of airsoft guns according to game requirements. To be on the safe side, always go for something that can take higher velocities as there's not always a guarantee that an airsoft game is 100% free of "hot" airsoft guns, even with strict marshals and chrono procedures.
The document also presents tables about energy and velocity equivalents for everyone to understand. They also provide a link to an online calculator for you determine such. These are useful also for airsoft players since we do not always have the quick calculation with our brains about joules to fps and vice versa. So having this document on hand or the link bookmarked should help facilitate such conversion.
So if you need a document that you can issue to your team mates, then you can download the ANA document. It is indeed a welcome thing that an airsoft association is taking time and even money to produce such documentation and at least provide standards that we can all follow.
As for FPS standards for airsoft guns, that's another debate. It seems each country has its own standard and the debate is always a never ending thing.
You can download the ANA document here.
(Many thanks to Jérémy Walther, Président de l'Association de Normalisation de l'Airsoft, for sharing this document to us.)