Why are guns quietest when im shooting?


August 10, 2009, 04:34 PM
Ok this may be a real documented phenomena, or it may be adrenaline. Guns without fail, no matter the action, caliber, or if its a shotgun/rifle/handgun, are the quietest and least felt when im the one shooting them. It doesn't matter where im standing around the gun, even if im directly behind the shooter the gun is still louder to me if im not shooting it.

This is perfectly understandable if im slightly forward of the gun down the firing line, or to the action side of the gun, but i dont get why its louder when im directly behind the shooter compared to the gun being in my hands.

Is it adrenaline even on a range?

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August 10, 2009, 04:47 PM
Just a guess but you are exactly 180 degrees from the muzzle blast.

August 10, 2009, 04:50 PM
I would say it is because when you are shooting you are concentrating on making a good shot and not so much on the noise or the recoil. When you are just an observer your not concentrating on making the shot just watching it happen so everything sounds louder.

August 10, 2009, 04:53 PM
I've heard of perceived recoil, but never 'perceived volume'.

I'd guess that since your attention is sharply focused when you're shooting, you are in affect 'tuning' out the periphery. When you're watching a shooter, you're going to be affected more by the periphery.

Otherwise, I don't know.

chris got to my point before I was done with my post

August 10, 2009, 04:54 PM
Because you know when to expect the sound when you are shooting.
At least that is my theory.

August 10, 2009, 05:04 PM
It's called Auditory Exclusion. Basically your mind blocks the perceived sound.

August 10, 2009, 06:07 PM
it is because you are more focused on the target and other things rather than the noise when you are around the gun. spotters for snipers have the same problem, and what they probably do is just focus on the target and do all of what they can do to block out that particular noise. and what you can't do, that is where the magic of supressors can do. the reduced recoil and noise and all of that other side stuff can eliminate a flinch and make you think about your shot placement and your breathing and your trigger pull.

August 10, 2009, 06:14 PM
you must be getting a serious adrenaline pump
when im shooting on the "range", guns are really loud and kick like hell
when im hunting and shooting at game = no sound and no recoil

August 10, 2009, 06:34 PM
This explains some of what's going on here:


August 10, 2009, 06:36 PM
I don't perceive a lower volume from the gun I'm shooting. The only difference for me is that guns that are closer are louder, including the gun I'm shooting.


I wear highly rated earmuffs on top of highly rated earplugs. So, no gunshot sounds are jarring anyway.

August 10, 2009, 06:41 PM

Part of it could lay in the phenomena known as tunnel vision..

Kinda like snow skiing with musical earphones on blasting out one's favorite tunes to hit the slopes fast and hard, after 30mph, you don't hear a thing..

And, like mentioned, one knows when the boom is taking place, as opposed to the person in the next lane letting off a shot and, no matter, the first unexpected loud sound/boom, rocks your world.


August 10, 2009, 06:45 PM
so its my brain and not physics, thanks.

For the most part I try to be calmer and just think about being steady when im shooting. I focus on seeing the target after the recoil with the hole exactly where im aiming.

August 10, 2009, 06:54 PM
what I do not yet understand is that when I 'm hunting, the sound of the rifle does not hurt my ears...... but the sound from the same gun at the rifle range is devastating....

August 10, 2009, 06:56 PM
it has do to with your focus but also with the direction of the blast... away from you.... that is why when you add a muzzle break to a gun it is "louder" the blast is spread in multiple directions... straight ahead of you and the direction of the porting. also why a revolver seems louder than a semi-auto. the cylinder gap allows the blast to come through in a direction other than that of the muzzle blast....

Of course... I could be completely wrong but it makes sense to me.

August 10, 2009, 07:46 PM
All I know is when I was on a tank range with other tanks firing, the absolutely loudest tank was one you were directly behind. Hearing protection? What's that? Firing your own tank was nothing. I could sleep with tanks firing off to the side. Directly behind was painful. Go figure.
Newbies to the range would be jumping and flinching around at every shot. After a few rounds from a 105mm it was like I could block it out as soon as the shock wave hit the hairs on my arms. My brain was fast enough to recognize the blast and it didn't bother me at all. I was a platoon sgt and would be walking around checking my crews that were on the line. I learned quick to stay away from the rear of a tank that was hot.

August 10, 2009, 08:17 PM
what I do not yet understand is that when I 'm hunting, the sound of the rifle does not hurt my ears...... but the sound from the same gun at the rifle range is devastating....

Actually the sound DOES hurt your ears, whether you feel it or not, and just like recoil, the effect is cumulative......

August 11, 2009, 12:12 AM
Knowing when it's going to go off must be part of it, but muzzle blast is much louder to the side of a gun than from behind. I noticed this once when someone was shooting a magnum in the next lane; I thought it was at least .44 from the concussion, but it was just a .357

See page 3 for a diagram that shows this: http://www.audioforensics.com/PDFs/INCE06_gunshot.pdf

August 11, 2009, 11:02 AM
Pretty much all the above. Auditory exclusion, anticipation, physics. Sometimes I'll intentionally move to the lane next to a large magnum or an auto that is showering brass onto the shooting position over the divider with my wife to test her concentration. It is interesting to see if she can keep the groups small and centered while she is getting blasted or rained on (she has learned to wear a baseball cap and t-shirt to the range for "rain protection")

August 11, 2009, 01:20 PM
It's called Auditory Exclusion. Basically your mind blocks the perceived sound. For some reason with ear plugs in I don't hardly even hear the blast, but I do hear the firing pin. Very strange...

August 11, 2009, 01:46 PM
by just having them stand there, aim at a static target, and pull the trigger. The recoil and noise can be pretty shocking to a first timer.

Now take the same person and have them concentrate on a clay bird....or maybe a real one. They'll be amazed to discover the lack of recoil/noise. I think it's concentration.....mainly.

Double Naught Spy
August 11, 2009, 02:47 PM
simulatedjim's answer is correct based on physics.

August 11, 2009, 06:26 PM
Could be your like most of us and just going deaf........pretty soon you won't hear them at all............

August 12, 2009, 09:13 AM
My friend's joke I reach a "Zen" state. All my worries melt away, I come to peace, and my whole world is what lines up with my gun sights nothing else. You can't talk to me or bother me unless you tap me on the shoulder. And yeah the gun sounds less loud. But it is fun to get that pressure backdraft from the .357 and .44 Magnums that rattles your teeth a litle when shooting. Some folks just find shooting relaxing, things feel a little slower, a little simpler, and your capacity for awareness shoots through the roof as you hear everything going on around you. The only thing more stimulating to me is scuba diving around a reef when you can hear the coral, feel the water move, and become very aware of your own breathing.

August 12, 2009, 09:49 AM
I will also say that when hunting if i have time to watch the game i don't hear the shot or feel it and manage to stay calm after the shot,for i while then the excitement of the hunt kicks in. But also on any kind of range you do have over head reflection and in most cases side walls of some kind to redirect sound. Even though it is not as bad when shooting as being next to a guy crank'n off 357 mags i do always hear it. Some time enough to make me want to leave the range. Can't get that zen thing fired up i guess at a range. I have never found muffs good enough or muzzle blast calm enough not to both me at some time durring a range session. I can have a good quite and calm time shooting an in door match when just 1 person. Just werd sometimes what you can tune out.

August 12, 2009, 10:06 PM
Because your wearing ear protection. I hope!.....;)

August 13, 2009, 10:56 AM
Not when hunting, heck yes on the range.

August 13, 2009, 06:42 PM
There's a legitimate physiological explanation for this. There is a muscle attached to the stapes bone that pounds on your eardrum (stapedius muscle). If you are anticipating a loud noise, the muscle tightens and limits the movement of the stapes, reducing its impact on your eardrum. When you're expecting a loud noise (i.e., when you're shooting), your body unconsciously reacts to reduce the impact on your ear. When someone else is shooting you don't know it's coming, so you get the full effect.

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