Hearing protection issues


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Z_Infidel
January 4, 2007, 09:30 AM
I had an experience last night that I would like to get some feedback on, especially since some forum members seem pretty knowledgeable about hearing loss and protection issues.

As far as handguns, I usually shoot .45ACP or .44 Special and I always wear hearing protection. In the past, whenever shooting .357 Magnum indoors I usually doubled up with muffs and plugs.

Several years ago there was an incident where I was subjected to a couple of shots from a revolver, outdoors, without hearing protection. It left me with a permanent slight ringing in my left ear -- which surprised me, but in retrospect it's understandable.

So last night I wanted to see how my GP100 handled the recoil of a certain .357 Mag round that I normally use in my Marlin carbine. I was outside, and wearing good ear muffs. When I fired the round, it didn't seem loud -- not even a little bit. But I immediately had the impression that it had virtually pummeled my left ear somehow, and sure enough my left ear was ringing a little more than usual for the rest of the evening. I was surprised and somewhat frustrated.

Now I'm wondering what conclusions I should draw from this, and how I might need to limit my shooting from now on. If you wish, please give me any insight you might have into the following possible conclusions:

1. Don't shoot magnums any more, and stick with lower pressure cartridges.
2. Don't shoot handguns any more (that would hurt).
3. Don't shoot any more (that would REALLY hurt).
4. This is normal for magnums, just double up on hearing protection even outdoors.
5. I am more prone to hearing damage than most people.
6. Not enough information to draw any conclusions.

Another question I have is why I don't notice the same thing happening when I shoot rifles with the same level of hearing protection. Even the times I shoot a round or two at game or a varmint without hearing protection I don't notice any significant effect on my ears (I always use hearing protection at the range).

Opinions, insights, suggestions please?

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dracphelan
January 4, 2007, 09:38 AM
I would say 4 or 5. I'm not normal (I have extremely sensitive hearing), so I always double up on hearing protection.

2TransAms
January 4, 2007, 09:50 AM
You'll feel the blast from a .357 in your ears even through good muffs if you have sensitive ears. If I'm shooting magnum loads I use earplugs,then earmuffs on top of that. That really seems to help. I use the big industrial 30db earmuffs too...I look like a dork but I don't care.

1911 guy
January 4, 2007, 10:09 AM
It becomes progressively easier to damage them again. That's been my experience, anyway. I have the same thing, usually not noticeable, sometimes nearly deafening. Double ear protection is the way to go. I'd also stick with non-magnum loads in handguns since the pressure wave is closer to your head and usually louder than a comparable rifle.

I get the same sensation from even the relatively low powered (compared to a .357mag) .45acp. If I shoot without plugs (not anymore) I'd get a "stuffed up" feeling in my ears and ringing for a while. It gets longer and louder every time.

dfaugh
January 4, 2007, 10:19 AM
Several years ago there was an incident where I was subjected to a couple of shots from a revolver, outdoors, without hearing protection. It left me with a permanent slight ringing in my left ear -- which surprised me, but in retrospect it's understandable.

I would say that if you have a noticible IMMEDIATE problem, after only a coupla shots(from almost anything), you probably have very sensitive hearing. That's NOT to say even one shot can have an effect, but to notice it that quickly, would be surplrising. You'll find alot of older guys (I'm 51) with significant tinnitis (constant ringing) and hearing loss, as we never wore any hearing protection years ago. I personally shot thousands for rounds of trap, and many Centerfire rifles w/o hearing protection. And, for many years, my hearing was fine, in fact quite good. but now, years later, its taken its toll (as did lots of hard rock music, and messin' with race cars). But at the time, I never felt any noticable effects.

Of, course, now I wear muffs, I even have a pair of Swiss army "artillary" muffs (80 Db noise reduction) I use sometimes. But, this will only keep it from getting worse.

jfh
January 4, 2007, 11:12 AM
my personal history of hearing abuse is pretty similar to his, and since I have 11 years on him, I can add the following.

My own tinnitis has been mostly unnoticable, and generally easy to 'not notice.' However, in the last four months it's become much more noticable. The point is, there does seem to be a progression (for me) probably based in aging / genetics as well as our behavior. This is with a history of no exposure to loud noises for several years now.

There does seem to be a correlation between that and some chemotherapy side effects--but I don't really know.

Good luck with it.

Walkalong
January 4, 2007, 11:20 AM
Some nights I go to bed and my right ear rings like crazy, some nights not at all. In my youth I shot without hearing protection. All my life I have worked around noise. Right now I can hear my right ear singing a bit. Most times I do not notice it. Evan after shooting somedays my ear does not ring. No one, I believe knows all the answers to this and if they could find a cure they would make millions!

Trebor
January 4, 2007, 01:17 PM
I think you should see an audiologist and get a medical opinion on the status of your hearing and what you can do to protect what is left.

At a minimum, I'd suggest always doubling up with plugs and muffs (like you do now) and finding the highest dB rated ear protection you can find. I like the Peltor Ultimate 10 or HD10 muffs. They are rated for 29 and 30 dB and are the best I could find. Avoid the electronic muffs as their dB rating is actually lower then this.

Geronimo45
January 4, 2007, 01:36 PM
A good .45 ACP should make your ears ring for a few hours - a .357 magnum should do the same, if not more.

Double up on hearing protection for sure.

I think that rifles, by virtue of being fired a longer distance from your ears, don't bring so much sound to your ears.

P.S.: There's a reason that Fairbairn said that the man who got the first shot off in a gunfight - be it a hit or miss, had the upper hand. Even a .32, when fired from a covered porch, sounds like field artillery.

Z_Infidel
January 5, 2007, 09:39 AM
Thanks for all the responses. What really surprised me in this was that the report didn't sound loud at all but seemed to affect my left ear anyway. I can only guess the concussion is as important as the noise level. That's what I'd really like to get some feedback on.

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