How far away can you typically hear shots from a centerfire rifle or muzzleloader?


Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
November 2, 2009, 09:52 AM
Like it says, how far do shots sound travel from a typical hunting rifle in typical/average weather conditions and terrain?

I count shots during hunting season, and I'd be interested to do some extrapolating based on a reasonable radius and # I hear.

See poll.

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November 2, 2009, 10:09 AM
Isn't going to depend upon the terrain. I live in mini-valley and the acoustics make it so on a quiet day (no wind) I can hear my neighbors (500 feet away) conversations very easily.

I would think that in deep woods there would be lots of baffles to deflect the sound waves.

November 2, 2009, 10:36 AM
I regularly here duck and goose hunters on a river 3+ miles from my house. And rifles are louder than shotguns so I think they carry pretty well.

November 2, 2009, 10:48 AM
Hard to say. In those early mornings, it gets dang quiet, and I'd imagine I could hear a report echo through the hills from miles away.

I've gotten out of the house, early in the morning, and heard duck hunters shooting, and they have got to be a couple miles from the house.

But I just don't really know how to guess the distance.

November 2, 2009, 10:52 AM
Terrain makes a lot of difference-as do buildings. I can tell a gunshot at about a 1/4 mile in the city,if conditions are right--and no, I don't know what 'right' might be; some days are better than others.

Approaching the range (out of the city) I can hear shots, occasionally, when I'm 3-4 miles away but cannot identify caliber. At the last turn-off, about 1 mile from the firing line, I can distinguish rifle from hand gun except for very large handguns and very small rifles; i.e my Encore in 270win sounds like a loud rifle, my 223 bolt gun can sound like a distant handgun.

Direction from the range is also important. Behind the shooters is much softer than to either side and if shooting is in a 3-sided berm all bets are off--too many echos.

In flat open terrain you can hear and pin point with fair accuracy gun shots and their sources. Add rolling hills and you get echos and reflection that make direction nearly impossible to determine and distance very nearly impossible to ascertain. Make the hills and valleys mountains and canyons and you probably need special equipment.

Two things you don't want to hear: the whistling warble of a bullet passing nearby and the slap, slap, slap of a bullet tearing trough foliage nearby. Need I explain why?

November 2, 2009, 11:00 AM
Out west where trees are limited and sounds carry well, distances can be great. In the East, in heavy cover - not as much

Sav .250
November 2, 2009, 11:18 AM
I hear then. Some loud,some not so loud. Hard to tell how far as I have no idea where the shot (sound) originated from.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
November 2, 2009, 11:51 AM
For the purposes of the poll, please assume thickly wooded area, with gentle rolling hills, rising perhaps 150-250 feet about the lower parts of the terrain. Thanks.

November 2, 2009, 02:40 PM
For the purposes of the poll, I don't have any idea how far I could hear in those conditions. I can hear rifles from greater than 3 miles here.

November 2, 2009, 02:57 PM
In forested rolling terrain you're unlikely to hear much more than a valley away, maybe a mile. But there are so many variables involved. The kind of trees and the density of plant life. The air itself makes a big difference. I don't think air heavy laden with moisture is going to transmit sound the same as dry high desert air. Temperature makes a difference as well. And of course the firearm itself. I've had rifles with barrels so long I hardly need ear protection.

November 2, 2009, 03:47 PM
Is someone planning to hunt with a centerfire in a shotgun only area this year? :p

November 2, 2009, 03:58 PM
Early am and firearm shot some what in your derection can be heard to 3miles + . been on different leases and had buddies shoot and then call that they had. It does depend on land and surrounding noises.

November 2, 2009, 05:32 PM
It also depends a lot on wind direction.

Around here, downwind, in typical fall landscape after the leaves fall off the trees, you can hear a high-power rifle several miles.


November 2, 2009, 06:53 PM
+1 to wind and terrain. IMO wind is huge. I've been upwind less than a 1/2 mile away from guys shooting geese in the fields. Geese come in, some geese fall to ground, rest of geese fly away. No reports. 15 to 20mph of wind makes quite a wall for sound waves.

November 2, 2009, 07:04 PM
how do you know how far away he is? i dont understand the poll. i have always wondered where shots were comeing from.

November 3, 2009, 12:55 AM
Deep woods here -- I said 3/4 mile. But I can believe out west it is much further.

November 3, 2009, 01:05 AM
depends on how dry the air is, really dry air say less than 7 to 10% sound doesn't carry well. Wouldn't know about woods thick or otherwise, cacti don't effect the sound much at all

November 3, 2009, 01:09 AM
Air temp and wind will also play a role. At my home on a crisp cold night I can hear train whistles from 16 miles out. With even a slight breeze I can't. Also if its warm out even with no wind I can't. A rifle shot in the creek bottoms or river bottom will carry for miles. Then on a windy day my wife has claimed not to hear me shoot a highpower from less than a 1/4 miles in the woods behind our home.

November 3, 2009, 01:19 PM
I just don't believe for a second that, given whatever conditions someone might consider perfect, it would ever be possible to correctly call out the caliber of each gun after their respective shots are heard. Impossible.

November 3, 2009, 04:32 PM
After spending considerable time in them, I would consider the pits on a High Power rifle range to be about the most perfect condition for hearing rifle shots.
.30 caliber is clearly a different sound coming from the line than .223. 7.62 vs. 30-06? That would be more of a challenge but after all, they are the same caliber.

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