Hunting and shooting are thrilling experiences which come encumbered with problems such as hearing loss if the necessary precautions are not in place. Loss of hearing can affect your precision in hunting and shooting, and it also affects your daily activities as well as your relations with other human beings.
Before you go shooting and hunting, you need to take into consideration what factors can lead to hearing loss and how to protect your hearing to maintain your A game.
How do guns cause hearing loss?
Hearing impairments are more frequent amongst people who use guns as compared to those who do not. These hearing problems include but are not limited to tinnitus and hearing loss. There are other factors which increase your chances of impairing your ears such as the reverberation of gunshots. This effect not only affects you but also hurts the bystanders around you.
Some improvements made to firearms also add to the chances of hearing loss by further increasing the levels of sounds produced from the gunshots. An addition such as a recoil compensator will make your firearm louder, thus putting you at risk of hurting your eardrums.
When it comes to hearing loss, the ear that is closest to the gun muzzle will experience more damage as compared to the one further from the muzzle. This effect is because the further ear receives some protection from your head shadow, thus reducing the amount of sound received from the gunshot.
Sound levels get measured regarding decibels to determine how many decibels are detrimental to your hearing abilities. Any sound that lies above eighty-five decibels can cause hearing loss categorized as a noise-induced hearing loss. What this level of noise does is that it damages the soft hairs in your ears charged with the task of stimulating your auditory nerve fibers, thus making hearing difficult.
Almost all the guns on the market produce sound levels higher than eighty-five decibels. Take an example of a small .22 caliber rifle. It can release one hundred and forty decibels or thereabout per gunshot. As such, you can see just how exposed you are to hearing loss when using a firearm.
How does hearing loss affect you?
You may think that the effects of hearing loss only extend to your hunting capabilities, but they go further and affect your life. At first, you may not notice that you have lost some hearing, but over time you will observe that you are unable to hear high-frequency sounds such as s, h, f, sh, c and ch. As such, communication with people around you will become difficult, and this will affect your work and people close to you.
Women and children tend to have voices that feature a lot of high-frequency ranges and communication with them can become frustrating over time. Another effect that hearing loss brings about is tinnitus. This ailment is not curable, and people suffering from it tend to hear a ringing or buzzing sound in their ears on a continual basis. The ringing can either be high-pitched or low-pitched.
Tinnitus can occur in one or both of your ears. Hearing loss is a gradual process, and it does not happen overnight. It comes with detrimental effects on your life overall, and it is essential that you protect your hearing from the initial stage, whether you are a bystander or a shooter.
Ways to protect your ears when hunting and shooting
The protection of your ears is not only crucial for your hunting capabilities, but it also enables you to maintain interactions with those around you without a need for medical help. Without great hearing capabilities, your game gets affected and your chances of success while out in the wild decrease.
What should you look for in hearing protection devices?
Protection vs. enhancement
There is a need to differentiate between enhancing your hearing and protecting your hearing. In a case where you wish to amplify your hearing ability, a hearing enhancer will come in handy and will reduce the noise you hear from the gunshot. However, with an amplifier, you will only succeed in increasing the noise your ears receive, and you will worsen the problem.
These devices get made in a way that they fit close to the head. The acoustic foam used in their manufacture reduces the noise received by the ears. If you wish to make them more effective in the protection of your hearing, you should use them in combination with earplugs.
They come in a wide variety, and you should engage the help of a professional to help you decide which make best suits your protection needs.
These earplugs work great for a professional who wishes to use earplugs on a frequent basis. They are comfortable, and they offer sufficient protection from noise from the outside. To get a pair of these, you will need to consult a hearing professional who will then work on a mold of your ear canal to ensure that the earplugs fit your ear canal, making it very hard for noise to make its way into your eardrum.
Electronic shooter plugs
These devices make use of technology to reduce the level of decibels that make their way into your ear. Most hunters and shooters prefer these plugs over ear muffs because they are smaller and will not be an additional weight on them as they carry out their activities.
Some brands come with background noise reduction, thus providing white noise which enables you to better concentrate on the task ahead.
Reusable shooter plugs
You can find these plugs in three forms: the standard foam, the moldable foam and the silicone type. They all come with different advantages, and your choice will depend on how long you intend to use them as well as the kind of firearm you will be shooting.
These devices are earplugs which come with a mechanical valve which closes when loud sounds get emitted. The valve remains open when the sounds released are at low decibels, allowing you to hear what is going on around you when you are not shooting.
When buying a hearing protection device, be sure to look for the noise-reduction rating which will guide you as to up to how many decibels the plugs can reduce noise. If you do begin to hear ringing in your ears or you suspect that you are short of hearing, seek medical advice at an early stage.