Doug Orlob reached into a plastic resealable bag and grabbed a couple of 9mm bullets.
He’d already loaded the magazines for the Glocks and the Sig Sauer lying on the table in front of him at the Ephrata Sportsmen’s Association gun range. So, these rounds, they were for his ears.
“No matter where I am, I’m never without earplugs,” he said as he slowly twisted the bullets into his ears. “Just don’t slap me hard on the side of my head.”
He laughed, and if it feels a bit like part of a sales pitch, well, it’s because Orlob is a salesman trying very hard to make a case for a new kind of pistol sight he invented and patented in 2013.
One that lets you aim accurately with both eyes wide open.
He calls his sight the Orlob Occluder, and the point is speed. Keeping both eyes open while aiming allows a shooter to keep better track of everything and even move more easily, because “the brain doesn’t have to see double,” Orlob explained.
The principle is simple. Orlob placed a small blinder to either side of the rear gunsight, blocking the view the non-shooting eye has of the front sight. He also uses bright tubes to illuminate the sights — red in front and green in the rear. It doesn’t require any power, but it does require a shooter — well, at least a shooter like me taught to close one eye when aiming — to completely retrain how the brain works and how it focuses the eyes when using a firearm.
As Orlob explained, his Occluder is similar to the few young men I remember in my Army basic training unit who had to have one eye covered because they had trouble focusing or closing their non-shooting eye.
Orlob moves the blinder from the eye to the gun itself.
“It trains the brain to focus on the target and not the sights,” he said. “You quickly come up with a sight picture, all because your brain doesn’t have to think double.”
I first met Orlob at the Moses Lake Gun Show last fall, where he sat with a few toy guns. He cheerfully showed off his sight, asking people to keep both eyes open as they took aim. It was unnerving and memorable.
So now here we were, on a cool Friday morning at the shooting range in Ephrata, seeing how his sights really work.
At least for me, it took a bit of getting used to, aiming with both eyes open, getting used to slightly blurry sights that half disappear. It also, ahem, doesn’t fix whatever other problems your shooting technique might have.
“I’m proud of this,” Orlob said. “It’s one thing when you’re selling somebody’s product, and you’ve been trained to sell it. But I’m not doing that. I’m selling something I came up with myself.”
The Occluder is one of three patents Orlob holds, all related to gun or compound archery bow sights.
Orlob said guns have been a passion of his ever since he was a child, though he easily confessed to not being a very good shot. In his professional career, Orlob said he worked for 35 years as an optometrist giving eye tests, making lenses and repairing glasses. Before that, during a stint in the U.S. Navy, he said, he repaired submarine periscopes.
So it makes perfect sense that he would fiddle with gun sights in his spare time.
“I just love optics. I have always loved optics,” he said.
He also calls himself a “dreamer and inventor,” and he said he keeps a notebook by his bed so if he dreams of something worth tinkering with, he can quickly write it down before he forgets.
“I’ve invented things in the last two days just because I’m a dreamer,” Orlob said.
As to why something this simple as blinders on a gun sight has never been done before — Orlob laughed.
“This could have been invented years ago,” he said. “It just hasn’t been thought of.”
Orlob makes the round of gun shows in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the western United states. He has talked to several police departments in Washington about equipping officers with his sight. But right now, this is still just a hobby, something he works on at home and pitches to potential customers from the back of his car.
But he’s hoping he will eventually be successful.
“It really is a hobby,” he said. “It’s a hobby until I make a lot of money. And I want to see it make money.”
© 2020 the Columbia Basin Herald
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.