Gun safety is an essential part of owning a firearm, and this includes protecting your hearing. Shooting ear protection is important whether you are hunting or at the range. Luckily, there are a variety of options available, ranging from traditional earplugs to advanced electronic earmuffs for hunting. If you are a gun owner, you should know how shooting can affect your ears and take the steps to reduce the possibility of permanent damage.
How Gunfire Can Damage Your Ears
Any sound over 85 decibels (dB) can cause irreversible damage to your hearing, and the louder something is beyond this threshold, the shorter the length of exposure before damage occurs. How loud a gunshot is depends on the caliber of the weapon but the average is between 140 dB and 165 dB. At this level, ear damage can be immediate.
Damage from loud noises occurs because the sound causes rattling in your eardrum as well as the fluid in your inner ear. This fluid moves tiny hair cells that convert the sound into electrical impulses so your brain can process it. When the vibration of a sound is too strong, it can destroy these hair cells, which never grow back. In addition to this, gunshots can also damage the bones in your middle ear, so it’s important to protect not just the ear canal but the full ear when possible.
There is a characteristic pattern of inner ear damage for those who frequently shoot long guns. Because of the way these guns are held while shooting, the hearing loss is more prominent in the ear opposite from your dominant hand. This may seem counterintuitive, but your shoulder shields the ear on your dominant side from the sound to a certain degree even though this ear is closer to the weapon.
How to Protect Your Hearing While Shooting
At The Range
At an indoor shooting range, sounds are frequently more concentrated. The good news is that since you are in a controlled environment, it’s easier to have more complete hearing protection without compromising your awareness in the process. It’s recommended to use a pair of earmuffs over foam earplugs in order to protect both your ear canal and the bones in your ear. For an outdoor range, sounds may be less intense, but it is still a good idea to use both earplugs and earmuffs to be safe.
While hunting, you will want to preserve your ability to hear the sounds around you clearly while still protecting your ears. If you hunt frequently, you may want to invest in high-tech electronic hearing protection. These devices can enhance your hearing for quieter sounds while muffling the loud noise of a gunshot. For a more affordable option, you can also get earplugs that are worn around your neck when not in use. This allows you to quickly protect your ears before you shoot and then return to normal hearing otherwise.
Purchase Guns and Accessories at The Hub
Our gun shop carries a wide range of firearms and accessories, including hearing and vision protection. We make it easy for you to find everything you need to shoot safely.