Having a good sense of hearing is imperative in life as, without sound, we would not be able to carry out tasks effectively on a day to day basis. Ear protection for shooting is extremely important because guns create a high decibel sound when fired which may lead to hearing loss in the long run.
It is not possible to reverse the effects of hearing loss once they set in because it is permanent. Therefore, it is very important to take care of your ears while you are out for a hunt or during the course of regular shooting practice.
There are a lot of factors to be considered when it comes to choosing the right protective gear for your ears while you go out for hunting as a shooter is exposed to the sound of pistols and big-bore rifles which can create a noise higher than 175 dB.
In this article, we will take you through the various causes by which guns can affect your hearing along with the need to protect your ears and using the right gear to prevent hearing loss.
The sound is measured with the help of a unit termed as decibel (dB). The higher the decibel, greater is the amount of noise generated. While a conversation between two or more people can generate a sound of about 60 dB, the sound created by guns of different types can vary between the range of 156 - 160 dB which is even greater than that of a jet plane taking off!
People who use guns regularly are more prone to suffer from hearing loss and other hearing-related issues such as tinnitus. Even the reverberation caused by a gunshot is capable of causing hearing loss to the shooter as well as to the bystanders.
Many guns come loaded with a recoil compensator and other add-ons. These accessories create an even greater sound and cause more damage to the ears. Typically, the ear which is closer to the muzzle experiences more damage than the other ear since it is not protected by the head shadow.
Research has proved that a prolonged exposure to noise levels above 85 dB can cause a permanent hearing damage which is also known as a noise-induced hearing loss. Our ears are equipped with fine hairs that are responsible for stimulating the auditory nerve fibers. High sound levels destroy these fine hairs leading to hearing loss and associated damage.
There are various problems associated with not being able to hear well. If you are a hunter, then a hearing loss will lead to problems during hunting and you may not be able to concentrate well on your target due to noise issues and lose the game.
People with a noise-induced hearing loss find it difficult to listen to high-frequency sounds which makes communicating and socializing with people more difficult and challenging. Such people face more problems while communicating with women and children as their sounds fall in the high-frequency range.
The second problem associated with hearing loss is tinnitus. We have all experienced a whooshing or buzzing sound in one or both of our ears for a few seconds sometime during over lives. Imagine how frustrating it would be if that sound never went away! Tinnitus is exactly what we are referring to and the sounds could be low or high pitched.
Hearing loss is irreparable and irreversible once it sets in. Thus, it is very important to take the help of appropriate protective gear that would help to keep your ears from harm and provide adequate noise control.
We have already covered the part on how you could suffer from a noise-induced hearing loss and other associated risks if you stay exposed to high levels of noise. It has been noted that only 50% of people who go out for shooting and hunting actually use the protective gear designed to protect their ears.
Repeated and continuous use of firearms is capable of inducing a permanent hearing loss over the course of time. Noise levels of 140 dB and above are extremely harmful to the human ear and therefore it is necessary to care for your ears while you are out hunting.
If you are target practicing indoors, the damage is even greater as sound has the capability of ricocheting among the walls and resonating for a long time when compared to outdoor shooting. Large rifles can produce a sound that is approximately 25% more than that of the other guns.
Professional shooters stand the risk of losing some part of their hearing capabilities in the long run despite using protective gear if it is not worn correctly. At the same time, one ear may face greater damage than the other based on its proximity to the muzzle.
Loud noises are harmful to our ears and can cause hearing loss if we stay exposed to such high decibels for a long period of time. In order to prevent that from happening, we must take good care of our ears while shooting.
There are many types of protective gear available in the market today that help in reducing the background noise and provide good protection for your ears. These include gear like earmuffs, analog and electronic earplugs.
The most common form of hearing protection used in everyday life is the passive hearing protection system. These comprise of soft earplugs that can be fit in the ear and block external noise from the surroundings. Since they just block noise by occupying the physical space in the ear, they are not great for providing protection for an extended use.
Earmuffs, on the other hand, are a better option when compared to earplugs because they help in eliminating the background sound effectively. The best type of protective gear for ears are noise-canceling electronic earplugs and earmuffs. They help to reduce the noise level with the help of electronic technology and does not cause any damage to the ears.
At the same time, these electronic earplugs enable a person to listen to what is happening in their surroundings. It blocks the high decibel noise and lets one hear general sounds like a conversation and the sound of people approaching.
Some guns are capable of producing a lot of pressure when fired. This pressure can cause hearing loss by damaging the bones present behind the ear. This can happen even if the ear canal is protected by an earplug. Hence it is essential to recognize and choose a high-quality gear that will protect your ears even in an indoor setting.
These are the simplest and cheapest way to protect your ears. They have a noise reduction rating of 25 to 33 depending on their type and are capable of providing good protection to your ears.
While they are inexpensive and small, they also provide limited protection since they just cover the ear canal. This leaves the bones outside the ear canal vulnerable to damage from loud noises and can cause a damage to your hearing despite the protection.
These earplugs also block out all the sounds from the environment which will leave you lost and incapable of paying attention to what is happening around you. This is a major drawback especially when you are out hunting.
These are a modified version of the normal earplugs since they are reversible. The reversible feature allows passive protection for continuous noise and a noise-activated protection for a momentary sound like the shot of a gun.
The best part about using these earplugs is that they allow the user to listen to the sounds from the surrounding when the noise-activated protection mode is being used. This is a very big advantage for hunters who need to keep a tab on any unusual movement in their surroundings.
Earmuffs are a better choice than earplugs for people who use guns regularly. They have a noise reduction rating of about 30 and provide an effective protection to users. They are simple to use and do not require any additional assembly.
They also help to protect the delicate bones close to the eardrum and thus help in providing a complete protection to the ears. However, they are awkward to wear with the headgear and may get in the way.
These are an excellent option for blocking loud noises and amplifying other sounds present in the environment which enables a user to have a clear focus while shooting. They can be used both while hunting and during simple target practice.
The drawbacks are the same as that of simple earmuffs in terms of a good fit and usability. They also have a noise reduction rating of 22 which make them redundant for use while they are used indoors.
These earplugs offer the same protection as that which is provided by electronic earmuffs albeit in a smaller size! Some models also give the user the freedom to adjust the sounds in the environment and amplify specific sounds.
The biggest drawback of these earplugs is that they only protect the ear canal and not the bones that surround it. Thus they are more suitable to hunters than shooters. At the same time, they are expensive and not many hunters may want to buy them.
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We have already explored the need for using protective gear for ears while you are out hunting or shooting using guns. Technology has made it possible to have some great innovations in this field which ranges from all levels of costing and features. Paying adequate attention towards protecting your ears is a must if you wish to safeguard yourself from the danger of hearing loss and other hazards.