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Do You Need to Wear Earplugs during Hunting or Shooting?

three sets of different hearing protection

Hunting and shooting are two very popular pastimes in the United States. If you enjoy these hobbies, you understand the need to remain safe at all times and to protect your hearing health and wellbeing. Therefore, you might wonder whether it’s essential to wear protection during a session.

The truth is that ear protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs, is imperative because they add an extra layer of security. It’s tempting to assume that your hearing is the last thing you should protect, yet it’s probably the most vulnerable part of your person.

Here is a selection of the reasons wearing earplugs is critical for hunters and shooters, and the options available concerning protection.

It dulls the noise

As a rule, the higher the decibel level, the louder the sound. And, it’s the decibels that have the biggest impact on your hearing, causing you to experience side-effects such as tinnitus and an inability to make out sounds. It’s crucial to remember that the noise a gun creates is substantial, with the NIDCD reporting that an average hunting rifle can release a 140-decibel blast.

Any audiologist will inform you that the protective layers of the material enable ear protection to absorb the majority of the noise - from 20 to 30 dB - at close range. When this happens, the bones and hairs in your inner-ear are less exposed.

Hearing loss isn’t always gradual

Usually, you would expect your hearing to decline over time. This occurs when hearing loss is natural, not when a foreign noise or object is to blame. With a decibel level of 140-plus, it’s vital to realize that any atrophy occurs very suddenly. After all, the ear cells might be damaged beyond repair.

Thankfully, ear protection methods let you take part in your favorite hobby without having to fret about the short and long-term consequences. Earmuffs and earplugs are effective to the point where you can enjoy regular hunting or shooting sessions if they are to a high standard. 

The side-effects range in severity

Do you assume that hearing loss is only concentrated to your ears? This is the biggest mistake people make because the side-effects are wide-ranging. They include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • Risk of balance issues, such as trips and falls
  • Social issues
  • Isolation

Many other challenges are associated with hearing loss, some that you might not recognize at first, so it’s important to take care of your ears to prevent future issues. The impacts of untreated hearing loss can escalate, too, which is why it’s better to nip in the bud early.

How to protect your ears while shooting and hunting

In a perfect world, the solution would be as straightforward as wearing earplugs or earmuffs. However, they pose problems for shooters and hunters, including being uncomfortable and taking away from the experience. The latter is easy when you block out noises as you can’t hear the sounds of the animals giving themselves away.

So, what are the alternatives? Here are the best ear protection methods currently.

  • Earmuffs: Because they are designed to fit your head snugly, earmuffs reduce the majority of sounds, even at close range. If you’re worried about your hearing, these are the easiest and most effective options.
  • Earplugs: Earplugs are brilliant for people who don’t enjoy the closeness of earmuffs. Earmuffs are tight, which impacts everything from your form to your mentality - you won’t shoot straight if you’re not focused on the target. As they are small and slender, you’ll hardly notice that you’re wearing them.
     
  • Active ear protection: The two methods above are classed as passive ear protection. Active ear protection is different because it decides which noises are friendly and lets them pass into the ear canal. Therefore, hunters can continue to stalk their prey by listening for telltale sounds without worrying about them being drowned out. 

Active earplugs, typically electronic, are fast becoming the go-to choice for hunters and shooters who want to strike the ideal balance between their art and health.

What should you do if you spot the signs of hearing loss?

You should speak to a qualified and certified audiologist straight away to limit the damage and maintain your hearing. Not only can an expert provide ear protection advice, but they can also fit devices to boost your hearing.

At the Quality Hearing & Audiology Center, our trained audiologists are on hand to evaluate your hearing and provide their professional opinion on what steps to take next. Call 816-233-0022 now to find out more.