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Do You Need to Wear Earplugs During Hunting or Shooting?

Jan. 19, 2024

Hearing protection is crucial in numerous scenarios, from protecting ears during music concerts to wearing it while operating power tools. However, one area that is often overlooked is hunting. Many hunters using firearms focus solely on their sport, disregarding their hearing health. Each gunshot causes irreversible damage to the inner ear's hair cells, making hearing an essential tool for detecting disturbances around you. It's crucial to understand the dangers of hunting without ear protection to ensure your safety during this activity.


Why is hunting without hearing protection dangerous?


When hunting season rolls around, firearms are held close to the face, and even a single blast from a firearm can cause ringing in the ears. Hunting with firearms not only poses a threat to hearing when you're personally firing the gun, but even standing in the range can lead to hearing damage. A single shot from a shotgun can reach up to 165 decibels—far exceeding the recommended volume limit for comfort. This volume is louder than a jet engine at 100 feet and even surpasses the volume of a rock concert.

Bird hunters, in particular, are at higher risk of hearing loss due to their frequent shooting and socializing with fellow hunters. Hearing damage isn't exclusive to hunting, but hunters must be aware of a condition called "hunter's ear," which can further impact their hearing.

It's crucial to prioritize hearing protection when engaging in hunting activities. Wearing earplugs or earmuffs can significantly reduce the risk of hearing loss. By taking proactive measures, hunters can enjoy their sport while safeguarding their hearing health.


electronic hearing protection for shooting

All about hunter's ear


In the hunting community, the term "shooter's ear" is often used to describe a condition that results from prolonged exposure to gunshot noise. This asymmetric hearing loss typically affects the ear facing the muzzle blast, resulting in significant hearing loss.

The damage can be immediate, and over time, it may worsen. The non-dominant ear experiences what's known as an "ear shadow," where the head acts as a buffer, reducing the impact on hearing. However, the dominant ear is more vulnerable. When sound levels are high, the hair cells in the inner ear begin to bend, opening up the pores at their ends and generating electrical signals that are sent to the brain, converting them into sound.

With noise-induced hearing loss, these hair cells are destroyed and cannot regenerate. Therefore, every exposure to loud noises at this level carries the risk of permanent hearing loss. While most cases of hearing loss occur gradually, gunshots produce louder, intermittent sounds that can cause just as much damage as rupturing the eardrum.

It's essential for hunters to protect their hearing, using earplugs or earmuffs to mitigate the effects of loud noises. By taking proactive measures, they can enjoy their sport without compromising their hearing health.


How to protect your hearing?

Protecting Your Hearing: The Essential Guide to Ear Protection

Earmuffs are more than just the cozy winter accessories you use to keep your ears warm. Specialized earmuffs are designed to fit comfortably over your ears, just like headphones, and come equipped with advanced electronic components that effectively block out noise at the range. The primary goal of earmuffs is to create a barrier between the muffs and your head, minimizing the impact of loud noises on your hearing. To learn more about finding the perfect earmuffs for firearm noise reduction, consult with a hearing health professional.

For those who love hunting or shooting, earplugs are an essential piece of equipment. These plugs allow you to still hear essential safety signals while blocking out extremely loud gunshot noises. The best earplugs are one-size-fits-all models as they evenly reduce sound pressure. Additionally, banded earplugs are available, which mold to the shape of your head, ensuring a secure fit.

While earplugs are a great start for firearm noise reduction, it’s important to remember that they work best when used in conjunction with earmuffs or headphones. This is because prolonged exposure to gunshot noise can damage the delicate bones in your ears. A hearing care professional can guide you on the best combination of ear protection devices for your specific needs.


Electronic Vs. Non-Linear Hearing Protective Devices

Hearing protective devices refer to ear defenders of different types. Electronic hearing protective devices are ideal for the range as they allow you to hear safety signals, while making loud noises quieter by reducing the noise. Non-linear devices refer to earplugs or molds without electronic components. Non-linear devices with filters will still help reduce loud noises without blocking out softer sounds. Using non-linear and electronic hearing protective devices in tandem will most effectively protect your ears from firearm noise.

Do you need hearing protection at the range? Yes! Ear protection will reduce the impact of firearm noises and allow you to enjoy safe and recreational firearm use, while reducing the risk of hearing loss. Studies also suggest that muzzle suppressors are still the most effective way of reducing firearm noises. Using a combination of plugs, electronic ear defenders and a muzzle suppressor may be the safest way to enjoy a visit to the range.


electronic hearing protection for shooting