This goes for hunters, too (but I’ll get into that later). We’ve all heard “eyes and ears” while we’re at the range. But why not in the woods? I won’t go into too many technicalities but here’s what you need to know, the next time you head to the range and shrug off forgetting your hearing protection.
Decibels (dB) is the unit of measure for the force of a sound wave. Silence is 0 dB; a sound ten times louder than silence is 10 dB; 20 dB is 100x greater than silence; and 30 dB is 1000x greater. Simple, right? Now, the brain interprets sound waves as they vibrate the tiny hairs (stereocilia) inside the inner ear. Those vibrations translate to electrical signals to the brain and voila—sound. Those tiny hairs cannot grow back once they have been damaged, which can lead to constant ringing in the ears and inevitably permanent hearing loss if there is constant exposure to sounds over 85 dB.
Fact: Exposure to sounds greater to 115 dB can cause hearing loss in less than 30 seconds.
Fact: Gunshots range from 140 dB to 190 dB or more.
So listen, take your hearing protection with you to the range. And, to you hunters, take yours with you to the woods. I know, three minutes into your walk to your blind or deer stand, you’re going to miss the chirps and whistles; the crunch of gravel and leaves under your feet. Then the hearing protection is out—and went you find your chosen game, BANG! You’re hearing every 140 dBs, or more, of your firearm.
Now I realize that in a self-defense situation, you’re likely not going to have your hearing protection. So, this is the only time I’m going to say this, but do not directly expose your ears to the sound of gunfire: you should not be afraid of the sound of your own gun. Realize that in a firefight—you might experience temporary hearing loss, a busted ear drum, and of course even sustain a bullet wound.
To prevent further hearing loss, wear your hearing protection—even as a hunter. There are events that hearing protection would even help with: car races, rowdy football games, truck rallies, concerts, motorcycle rallies etc. If you’re going somewhere loud, take your ear plugs. Shooters and hunters are more at risk than others because they are exposed to loud noises more frequently than those who just encounter traffic and concerts.
Protect your ears now, so that if you do encounter a situation where you must be exposed to gunfire, the damage to your hearing will be minimal.
On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to wear your hearing protection while hunting? (1 being not at all; 10 being always)