How Sound is Measured in Decibels

When you hear a loud noise, you most likely flinch as a reaction. If you have an excessively loud noise, you may even cover your ears. It’s a reflex action that results from both shock and irritation from such a loud noise invading your hearing. If you’re prepared for the oncoming loud noise, such as when you’re about to fire a weapon, you might only blink as a response. Regardless, noise levels can do some damage to your hearing if you aren’t wearing the proper protection.


Protection can be rated on decibel levels, but what exactly does that mean? For instance, how is sound even measured in decibels in the first place?


On the decibel sale, near silence is 0 dB. The scale can increase in increments of 10. For example, a sound about ten times louder than near silence is rated as 10 dB. A sound one hundred times louder would be 20 dB. A sound one thousand times louder would equate to 30 dB. This ratio can often confuse people who may think that 100 dB isn’t very loud overall, when in actuality it’s around the blare of a car horn.


A gunshot can rate around 140 dB, which means that it’s loud enough to require hearing protection. Anything over 85 dB can result in hearing loss, and a gunshot can easily be close to double that figure. Hearing damage can also result from a prolonged exposure, which means that if you fire weapons on a consistent basis you are at a much greater risk for having hearing problems. A gunshot can even cause instant damage.


This translates to the fact that anytime you are firing a weapon that ear protection is of vital importance.