Ammo & Gear Reviews

Firearms And Hearing Loss

(Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Guns and Gear Contributor

By Richard Douglas, Scopes Field

Do you shoot your gun without ear protection?

If so, don’t be surprised if your hearing worsens (or you go deaf) in the future. Seriously.

However, if you want to change that undesirable future, read this guide. Because today I’m going to show you the best ways to protect your ears from your gun’s report. Let’s get started.

Why Is Hearing Protection Important?

Hearing experts warn that even a single exposure to any noise above 85 decibels can cause immediate hearing damage. It turns out, loud noise can damage the specialized cells of the inner ear, called hair cells, that enable us to hear. And guess what the average gun blast decibel is? Between 140 – 165.

No wonder shooting guns without proper ear protection is one of the leading cause of hearing loss and complete deafness. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution. Just get yourself some good ear protection.

Types Of Hearing Protection

There are primarily two types of hearing protection:

Earplugs

Earmuffs

Earplugs are directly placed into the ear canal. Because of this, they offer greater protection than ear muffs. The benefits of using earplugs are they’re very light, easy-to-carry and doesn’t interfere with glasses or other personal headgear equipment.

On the other hand, earmuffs cover the entire ear. The advantage of using earmuffs is that they’re easy to put on, easy to clean and some feature electronics that facilitate communication.

That said, either option reduces noise between 15 to 33 decibels, depending on the product you purchase. You can find out how much decibel (dB) is cut out by looking at the product’s Noise Reduction Rating (NPR).

The higher the NPR number, the greater the noise reduction. For example, disposable ear plugs have an NPR of 29 dB where ear muffs have an NPR of 27 dB. When shooting firearms, you want to make sure to get an NPR rating high enough to provide the protection you need.

Personally, I recommend wearing dual protection — both earplugs and earmuffs — for optimal hearing protection. Trust me, you don’t want to skimp on your ears. That said, ear protection gear isn’t the only way to reduce noise level from a gun.

Tips To Help Protect Hearing

Suppress that shot. If it’s not illegal in your state, you should consider using a gun suppressor to help reduce the volume of a gunshot. How does a suppressor work? When you fire a gun, the ammo produces hot pressurized gas. As a result, the change in pressure when escaping the firearm causes a loud sound. Suppressors work by taking that hot pressurized gas and redirecting it through a system of chambers and baffles to cool, slow down and reduce pressure and noise. Not only do suppressors reduce sound levels, but they also reduce recoil, nearly eliminates muzzle flash and improves accuracy.

Take a break. Long-term exposure to consistently firing guns can cause temporary or even permanent hearing damage — even if you’re wearing the best ear protection. The solution? Take a break between rounds. This gives your ears a chance to decompress.

Keep them on. Let’s say you’re at the shooting range waiting your turn in line to shoot. Should you keep your hearing protection on? Most definitely. Because even if you aren’t shooting, your ears are still exposed to the harmful gun sounds coming from others. So those are the 3 golden tips for hearing protection.

Should I Hunt With Ear Protection?

Absolutely. And here’s why: Remember how I mentioned earlier that a single exposure to any noise level above 85 dB can cause immediate hearing damage? Well, the same applies to hunting. Because even if you’re firing only 1 – 3 shots per hunt, you’re still exposed to harmful sound levels.

The problem is if you wear earplugs, it’ll be difficult to hear approaching game in the environment. And that’s why many hunters neglect ear protection. However, there’s a solution; electronic earmuffs.

These devices allows the hunter to hear everything around them and still get gunshot ear protection. How? By instantly blocking out any noise above a certain dB (usually 82+). Here’s the best part, earmuffs are very affordable. For example, I’ve been using a pair of electronic muffs that cost me $29 and to this day, it’s still working. That’s why I highly recommend using electronic earmuffs if you’re into hunting, target shooting, plinking — basically anything with shooting a gun. Your ears will thank you.

How Will You Protect Your Ears?

Your hearing is a big part of your life. Don’t gamble with it. So make sure to wear ear protection every time you use a firearm — regardless if you’re target shooting or hunting.

Maybe you’ll start wearing earplugs? Or you’ll try some electronic earmuffs? Either way, let me know what works for you.

Richard Douglas is the founder of Scopes Field, a blog where he reviews the best scopes and guns on the market. He’s been featured on various magazines and publications like NEWSREP, ODU Magazine, Boyds Gun Stocks, Burris Optics, JPFO and so much more. Click here to visit ScopesField.com.