Shooting firearms for recreational and defensive purposes is a popular activity among Australians, supporting a thriving industry and creating numerous job opportunities. However, the loud sounds produced by gunshots can have serious implications for hearing health, leading to a condition known as "shooter's ear." To ensure the safety of your hearing, it is crucial to understand the significance of using proper ear protection when shooting.
Explore some of the best hearing protection options available in Australia to ensure your shooting experiences are safe and enjoyable.
The human ear is a delicate and sensitive organ that can easily be damaged by exposure to loud noises. Gunshots fall into a category of sounds known as concussive blasts, which can cause high-frequency reverberation within the eardrum, leading to hearing damage or long-term conditions like tinnitus. While hearing damage can occur at 85 decibels, the sound produced by the average 9mm handgun is around 160 decibels, which is well above the safe threshold. Therefore, it is crucial to wear ear protection when operating firearms to safeguard your hearing for the future.
Gunshots are extremely loud, and their loudness can vary depending on the type of firearm and ammunition used. On average, the sound produced by a typical 9mm handgun is around 160 decibels, which is well above the safe threshold for hearing. Even suppressed firearms can operate at around 140 decibels, which is still highly damaging to the ears. The loudness of gunshots makes it essential to use proper hearing protection to prevent hearing loss.
The extent of hearing loss after shooting a gun can vary depending on several factors, including the calibre of the firearm, the number of shots fired, and the distance from the source of the gunshot. In some cases, exposure to just one gunshot can cause permanent hearing damage. Hearing loss can be immediate, but it can also develop gradually over time due to repeated exposure to loud gunshots. It is essential to take hearing protection seriously and wear appropriate earplugs or earmuffs during shooting activities.
Shooter's ear, also known as unilateral hearing loss, is a condition that is often found in people who use firearms frequently, such as competitive shooters or military personnel. It refers to hearing loss that occurs asymmetrically, affecting one ear more than the other. Shooter's ear can result from repeated exposure to loud gunshots over time, and it highlights the importance of protecting both ears during shooting activities.
Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) serve as a preventive measure against hearing loss during shooting activities. Research indicates that a significant number of shooters, particularly hunters, tend to forego wearing hearing protection, as they believe it hampers their ability to hear approaching game.
Modern HPDs have evolved to offer advanced features, enabling users to retain their ability to hear faint sounds while effectively reducing the noise generated by their firearms.
There are two main types of HPDs available to shooters:
Electronic shooting ear plugs and ear muffs are an advanced type of hearing protection designed specifically for shooters. These devices use electronic technology to enhance ambient sounds, such as conversations and range commands, while automatically suppressing the loud impulse noises of gunshots. Electronic shooting devices provide a more natural listening experience and can be a preferred option for competitive shooters who need to stay aware of their surroundings.
Prices for electronic HPDs typically range from as little as $100, making them a practical and accessible option for many users.
Nonlinear ear plugs are non-electronic HPDs designed to offer better protection against impulse noises like gunshots while still allowing for clear communication and situational awareness.
They are available in the form of earplugs and custom-made earmolds. Experts consider nonlinear HPDs with filters to be the preferred choice for effective hearing protection.
Non-linear ear plugs are also more budget-friendly, with prices starting at around $10, providing an affordable solution for those seeking reliable hearing protection.
Earplugs are a common choice for hearing protection during shooting activities. They are easy to carry, affordable, and offer effective noise reduction. However, using earplugs alone may not provide sufficient protection, especially with high-calibre or loud firearms. It is advisable to use both earplugs and earmuffs together to achieve maximum hearing protection. The combination of earplugs and earmuffs can significantly reduce the risk of hearing damage from gunshots.
Experiencing ear pain while shooting may indicate that your hearing protection is not fitting correctly or providing adequate noise reduction. Ear pain can also be a sign of improper insertion of earplugs or earmuffs. It is crucial to ensure that your hearing protection is worn correctly and comfortably to avoid discomfort or potential hearing damage.
For shooters who prefer wireless and convenient solutions, Bluetooth hearing protection earbuds for shooting are becoming increasingly popular. These earbuds combine excellent sound quality, wireless connectivity, and effective noise reduction, making them an ideal choice for shooting activities.
The Surefire Sonic Defenders are highly regarded hearing protection earplugs trusted by military and law enforcement professionals. With a range of colour options, these earplugs are not only functional but also suitable for tactical, hunting, and civilian use. Featuring a unique port-plug opening, they allow for passive sound to pass through, offering situational awareness while still protecting against harmful gunfire noise. The secure fit ear hooks ensure they stay in place even during intense movement, making them an excellent choice for shooters seeking reliable and versatile hearing protection.
The Honeywell Impact Sport earmuffs are designed to provide both hearing protection and enhanced situational awareness for shooting enthusiasts. Their slimline design makes them lightweight and comfortable to wear for extended periods. Available in various colour options, including high visibility orange and yellow for hunters, these earmuffs boast large and robust controls that can be easily operated with gloves. The ability to amplify passive sounds up to 85dB means you can hear range commands and conversations while still being shielded from high-impact gunshots.
The 3M Peltor TEP-200 Tactical Ear Plug is a high-quality and versatile wireless earbud option for shooters. With excellent build quality and comfort, these earbuds come with large physical button controls that can be operated even while wearing gloves. The earbuds' charging case adds convenience and provides a secure storage solution. With Bluetooth 5.0 technology, the TEP-200 offers improved battery life and a stable connection. These earbuds are customizable, with various tip styles available to ensure the perfect fit and maximum noise reduction for the user.
The Howard Leight Quiet Band offers a unique and convenient hearing protection solution for shooters. This product consists of a plastic neckband with attached earplugs, making them quick and easy to put on and take off during shooting sessions. Available in high visibility colours, they are easy to spot if dropped or left behind. The Quiet Band is an ideal choice for hunters and shooting enthusiasts who prefer a portable and compact design for their hearing protection needs.
The Sordin Supreme Pro-X Active Ear Defenders are premium-quality hearing protection with a track record of reliability. These ear defenders offer an impressive NRR of 32dB and 31dB noise cancellation, providing unmatched safety in noisy shooting environments. The IP67 waterproof rating ensures they can withstand tough conditions, making them suitable for all-day use in various shooting scenarios. With an AUX input for music and radio connectivity, the Sordin Supreme Pro-X is a top-notch option for shooters seeking the best in hearing protection.
Understanding the importance of using ear protection when shooting firearms is not complicated; it is the most straightforward method to safeguard your hearing over time.
Even a single gunshot can lead to permanent and irreversible hearing damage.
Whether you want to acquire more knowledge about Hearing Protective Devices (HPDs), explore hearing aid reviews, or obtain a hearing aid for existing hearing loss, EarPros is here to assist. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a licensed hearing professional.
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