This is Part 2 of the discussion of the most common shooting instruction/order given at ranges and shooting classes – “Eyes and Ears.”
This post is “aimed” at the mature woman who is just getting into shooting. For those who have been shooting for a long time, you already know and understand the volume and concussive force of a gunshot.
Literature and articles on the internet stress over and over that just ONE unprotected exposure can cause permanent damage to your hearing. By “our age” we have been exposed to a lot of noise pollution, whether from running equipment, or being around a loud environment. When visiting a gun range there is the mandatory “Eyes and Ears” instruction, but when you are hunting or “plinking” or at a non-range setting, it is all up to you to follow that rule. Here is a quote from an article on “HealthyHearing”
Effects of Firearm Noise on Hearing
According to Michael Stewart, Ph.D., professor of Audiology at Central Michigan University and Chair of the National Hearing Conservation’s Prevention of Noise Induced Hearing Loss from Firearm Exposure Committee, the loudness of firearm noise ranges from 140 to over 170 dB SPL and is dependent upon the type of gun being shot, length of barrel, size of bore, muzzle break, acoustic environment and amount of gun powder.
No matter the gun’s specs, firearm noise is dangerously loud. The following are effects firearm noise can have on hearing:
- Temporary or permanent hearing loss in one or both ears – gunblast ear is often worse (if you are a right-handed shooter, it would be your unshielded left ear)
- Hearing loss may occur gradually, suddenly or both
- Ringing in ears, also known as tinnitus – may or may not be permanent
- High frequency hearing loss – ability to hear sounds such as consonants is reduced and is often not noticed initially
If you have hearing aids, the same rule of thumb applies as corrective lenses for your eyes. WEAR THEM. You need to be able to hear instructions and warnings and monitor your environment while shooting.
Check with your audiologist to see if your inside the ear aids are sufficient as hearing protection while shooting. Some hearing aids are molded to your ear and are programmable and will screen/filter out anything above 100 – 120 decibels … but your particular aids may not be fitted or designed to provide protection, but function simply for amplification. While they won’t be able to transmit the sound of the gunshot, they also won’t protect you. This applies especially to behind the ear styles.
Quite a few sources recommend doubling up hearing protection when inside the ear protection/aids are worn by wearing the “Muff” style, especially is you are already experiencing hearing loss to avoid further damage.
Happy and Safe Shooting!