Protecting Your Hearing at the Range

Protecting Your Hearing at the Range

Shotgun- check, shooting vest- check, glasses, shot shells, targets and a tall cold one for after a long dusty day at the shooting range-  check, check, check and check.  You think you are all set for a great day of shooting but what is the most important element missing from your checklist?  Something that can save you from a life long debilitating condition?  Hearing protection, ring a bell?  Well it most certainly will ring a bell in your ears if you forget it.

The Basics: sound is measured in decibels, (dB) the higher the decibel the more likely damage will occur.  Frequency, duration and intensity of gunfire are the determining factors of hearing damage. Odds are the more often you are exposed to gun fire, the more likely your ability to hear high or low pitched sounds will be effected. Intensity refers to the decibels produced by the gun and also how close you are to the noise made by the gun.  A small .22-caliber rifle, will produce 140 dB at least, while a .44 magnum shotgun or big bore rifle can easily emit levels more than 175 dB.  A gunshot is double the decibel level that causes hearing loss, which is 85 dB.

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Think hearing protection is unnecessary while at the range?  You are not alone.  Studies have shown that only half of shooters actually wear hearing protection during target practice.  Consider this, the average firearm reaches 140 dB each time it is fired, if you shoot 50 rounds at the range that amounts to 700 dB passing through your ears and if you went to the range four times a month that amounts to 28,000 dB of damage done to your unprotected ear.  

Hearing loss is something that builds over time and can leave you hard of hearing in no time.  Looking at these figures and realizing that 140 dB is on the low end of how loud a gun can be you can start to understand the toll that shooting firearms without hearing protection can have.