Protect Your Hearing While Hunting and Shooting


The picture above is a hunter practicing unsafe shooting. He should have some sort of hearing protection on.

Hunting and shooting are popular sports, but damage to hearing can occur unless
proper precautions are taken. Normal speech has a volume of about 60 to 65
decibels (dB), and any noise over 85 dB can damage the ears. Most guns make
noise that is over 140 decibels and some produce sounds well over 175 dB.
According to Dr. Michael Stewart, exposure to sounds greater than 140 dB can damage hearing permanently. He states that just one shot can cause severe hearing
loss.

Many people often times tend to neglect their hearing protection while out hunting in
the field or at the range. My father who has been a hunter for years is one of these
people. He never really paid much attention to his hearing while hunting and now
many years later he is paying the price for it. Many people who hunt or come in
contact with other loud noises whether working construction, at a concert or even
at a sporting event don’t realize initially they are damaging their hearing levels.
Hearing loss increases gradually over time but it only takes a one time exposure to
excessive loud noises to hurt your hearing. My father who is now in his 70’s wears
hearing aids to help amplify sounds levels and allow him to hear better. He still likes
to get out and shoot but always remembers to wear his protective gear.

If possible, it is best to avoid an enclosed shooting range. The noise is magnified
and there is a higher possibility of hearing damage. Trying to find an outdoor range
may be your best option but if you do choose to practice indoors always remember
to have the proper hearing protection with you.

There are a number of protective devices that can be worn to protect the ears
while shooting. Even spectators who are close need to protect their ears as well.
The simplest of these is earplugs, but they are probably the least effective. If you
purchase earplugs, make sure they are capable of protecting your ears from high-
decibel levels.

Another alternative for ear protection is earmuffs. They are easy to use and offer
very good noise protection. The less expensive ones have foam cushioning. Higher
quality earmuffs use liquid as padding and provide more protection against noise.
Earplugs in conjunction with the earmuffs are the most effective, but the downside is
the inability to hear anything at all. For safety reasons, this is not the best choice.

The most sophisticated and effective ear protectors are electronic earmuffs or in-the-
ear devices. They allow you to communicate with others and hear anything up to 80

dB. They detect normal speech, magnify it and play it through speakers. Anything
louder than 80 dB will shut off all sound and protect your ears from damage. There
are also nonlinear devices that make soft sounds louder but shut off the sound with
loud noises. These fit in the ear and can be custom made.

Hearing is one of our most important senses and is crucial for our safety and
enjoyment of life. Take the time to go out and get the right protective gear, in making
smarter choices while hunting you may be able to protect your hearing for many
years to come.

John O’Connor,

About John:

Hi my name is John O’Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about
living a healthy lifestyle. Over the past few years I have become more and
more interested in hearing loss. My father and grandfathers, who are and were
all hunters, are affected by hearing loss. I feel that there is a general lack of
understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we
can. Check out my new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com/>

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