How to cure "loud noise pansy syndrome?"


January 20, 2003, 12:40 PM
I only recently went shooting for the first time. I enjoyed it immensely and recoil doesn't bother me much at all, but I discovered something bad about myself: A tendency to flinch and cringe horribly at loud noises. I was wearing ear protection, of course, but I found myself extremely anxious and scared of the blast from the short bolt-action rifle two stalls to the left of me (a measly .243) My friend's shorty AR had me jumping, too. And this was at an outdoor public range! I mostly shot my own 10/22, but that was no problem at all. And shotguns didn't bother me at all, either, in fact, the shotgun range was far and away the best part.

The problem seemed to be less severe when I was behind the trigger of the weapon myself (i.e. the AR.) When I wasn't, though, I found myself next to my friend, nervously staring at his finger in the trigger guard and waiting with a kind of dread anticipation for each shot. It was embarassing as all hell.

Will this sort of thing just fade on its own? Would "total immersion" work for this? I've heard a lot of advice on introducing new shooters that says "start them off small so they don't 'develop a permenant flinch.'" What would you recommend? Shooting is a lot of fun, but its not nearly so fun when you're a nervous wreck at the end of the session.

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January 20, 2003, 12:45 PM
Have you tried both earplugs and earmuffs?
Have you tried earplugs, earmuffs and a terry cloth towel over your head? :D

When you are guy with the finger on the trigger, all your concentration should be on keeping the rifle steady, eyes focus on the front sight, and breathing and steady trigger pull. After that, you could be shaking like a junkie going cold turkey, and it doesn't matter one whit.

January 20, 2003, 12:53 PM
Just remember one fact: humans are born with only two hardwired, inbuilt instinctual fears: a fear of falling, and a fear of loud noises.

I still flinch, too, even after having been shooting for over 40 years. The good thing is, the flinch is usually only present during range sessions; I have not noticed any flinch tendency when shooting either IPSC or IDPA matches, and it doesn't occur when I'm hunting, either.

January 20, 2003, 12:53 PM
Don't wear such tight jeans.....


January 20, 2003, 12:56 PM
There is only one cure: ammo - lots of it.

4v50 Gary
January 20, 2003, 12:59 PM
Short high power carbines tend to bark more. You notice it more when you're alongside the gun than behind them. That's why those muzzlebrakes on ARs make it so uncomfortable for everyone else.

Besides eye & ear protection, have your friends w/long guns (24" plus bbl lengths and not 20" carbines) shoot beside you. It may help reduce the concussion and the bark.

January 20, 2003, 01:01 PM
Only through practice will you overcome the flinch when you're pulling the trigger.
When you are the shooter, TRY TRY TRY to let the shot take you by surprise.
I can't emphasize that enough. Concentrate on actually being surprised when you pull the trigger and hear the crack. Don't even worry about accuracy until you are surprised EVERY time the shot goes off.
As far as other shooters, I still flinch after way too many years.

January 20, 2003, 01:13 PM
You do get used to it some.
If you ever spend a day next to someone firing a large, belted magnum, everything after that will seem trivial. :eek:

January 20, 2003, 01:14 PM
You may have crappy hearing protection. I wear plugs and muffs when I'm at a match (60 centerfire shooters at a pop), and muffs normally. Don't cheap out here, but you don't need the expensive electronic ones either.

January 20, 2003, 01:24 PM
I've been a shooter for 56 yeas, and every time I get on the range when the riflemen are there, I go straight back to day one - the kick in the diaphragm when a heavy .30, or bigger, is touched off still draws me up short, for the first few. It doesn't last (familiarity breeds contempt) but it takes time. As posted above, it is hard-wired into us and has to be worn down. Handguns (or at least those below Linebaugh specs) don't bother me in the least, and haven't for many years.

January 20, 2003, 01:45 PM
is to fire one shot exactly 90 degrees to your left and then one shot exactly 90 degrees to your right.

After that, the range will be very quiet.

Other than that, there is nothing you can do except get used to it or bring your own 18" .458 Win Mag and fire a few rounds to clear the place out.

I get most of that through the sinuses. Can actually feel the sound waves blasting up my nose and into them.

Not pleasant. In fact, when I shoot my Mini-14, I use plugs and muffs. Usually wear both anyhow whenever at a range.

Guess that's why I like the .22 so much.

January 20, 2003, 02:23 PM
Echoing Bogie's comments, don't go cheap on hearing protection (range provided muffs), but you don't have to go super expensive either. I often use the Peltor Ultimate 10 with a 29dB NRR. Cost about $20.

Also, as suggested, doubling up is a great help. My wife had a terrible problem with noise induced flinching when we first started shooting indoors. I thought with exposure she get used to the noise and would be fine (immersion). Opposite was true, it got so bad she didn't want to go shooting any more.

We solved the problem with some high quality (yet inexpensive) disposable 31bB earplugs, used along with her 29dB Peltors.

Here is a link for the plugs, but most safety products companies should stock them as well:

You should be able to get good muffs from any local gun shop (the Peltors are the bright blue ones). As I recall, and please correct me if wrong, a NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) of 20 is 10X better than a NRR of 19. Bottom line with regards to NRR is that its not linear.

Another option is to get some custom made plugs. Mine were $35 and have a 35bD NRR. I got them fitted at a gun show: they squirt a putty like goop into your ear and wait for it to solidify into a hard rubber. When they pull it out, you have a perfectly formed ear plug. For me, these work better than the plugs and muffs combo, but getting them in is a bit of a process: I prefer to use them when its too hot to wear muffs.

Don't feel bad about the flinch, you can't control a reflex. Just don't give up either, there is a solution.

Please let us know what finally works for you.

rock jock
January 20, 2003, 02:25 PM
"loud noise pansy syndrome?"
This is your brain's way of saying that you need more ear protection.

January 20, 2003, 02:44 PM
Don't wear such tight jeans.....

Trisha, he said 'pansy' not 'panty'! :D

Lord Grey Boots
January 20, 2003, 02:52 PM
I usually wear custom formed earplugs, and then a good set of earmuffs on top of that.

When looking at earmuffs check the ratings, the amount of noise reduction varies.

January 20, 2003, 03:11 PM
If the sound of a gun is so loud that it makes you flinch the chances are that your hearing protection (whatever it might be) is not sufficient. Aside from flinching the possible damage to your hearing is a serious matter. Can't tell you how many friends I have that now have impaired hearing because they thought wearing ear protection was "sissy stuff". Now, many of these guys suffered hearing impairment because of work related situations, not just shooting. But the principle is the same. protect your hearing!!! Good shooting:)

January 20, 2003, 03:17 PM
What is the db rating of your muffs.

I double up. Muffs are 31 NNR noise reduction. Plugs I use are 29 NNR. The total reduction is additive so my total is 60 NNR. I can't hear normal conversation with both in. If I need to hear conversation I'll cock up one muff then drop it when someone shoots.

Go top drawer on your hearing and eye protection. Both are too valuable to go cheap.

January 20, 2003, 03:30 PM
Ignore it. I know, easier said than done, but it helps. I think theres a little voice in your head that says "Gonna be loud, might hurt..." (Tell him to shut up.) and force yourself to concentrate on the shot anyway. Clear your mind of ALL THOUGHTS until after the shot breaks. The only thing in your mind should be 'front sight, press'...dont think about anything until after the shot, this is called 'follow through' and your concentration should be such that you can call your shots every time.

After the shot breaks realize that 'you're OK' and the voice lied and was wrong. Stuff it down his throat and do it again. If you cant call your shots, then that means that you're lining up your sights and then sub-concisously shutting your vision off in anticipation of the shot / noise / recoil, and then pulling the trigger. Might as well shoot over your shoulder unsighted at all.

I know this sounds a bit wacked out but it worked for me. Its all in the head...

January 20, 2003, 03:48 PM
When I go to the range with a buddy of mine on his first shot I flinch like someone just hit me with 220 volts of juice. After that I am fine.

Malone LaVeigh
January 20, 2003, 04:17 PM
For me, the flinching gets worse over the course of a shooting session. When I notice it affecting my shooting, I stop and take a few deep breaths. Then slow down and concentrate on beating the flinch instead of outcome.

With a revolver, I leave one or two cylinders empty. The aim is to have the no-fires the same as the shots.

January 20, 2003, 04:24 PM
joint will help you concentrate on your sights and trigger pull. Otherwise, its called practice....chris3

January 20, 2003, 08:48 PM
I still have a problem maintaining any kind of concentration when there's somebody with a revolver to either side of me.

Been "kissed" too many times from the old cylinder/barrel gap.

Maybe another 10 years... the last 10 haven't seen much improvement.

ah feel yer pain

January 20, 2003, 08:57 PM
Hang out with a bunch of .50 cal shooters for a day
after that everything else will seem pretty quiet.

Another vote for double ears, little foamies with peltor tac-6's

January 20, 2003, 09:11 PM
...........don't worry about a thing, I just find the noise annoying but rarely have to deal with it.

Your only problem is the fact that you have to deal with this>> " two stalls to the left of me"

Range shooting truly sucks so invest the time and a bit of $$ to build a good shooting bench and find some good open country. It makes shooting MUCH better (and quieter!)

Being behind the weapon really helps. Back in the Army we found that actually shooting the 60 was a blast and could be done w/o plugs but being the ammo-guy next to the thing was loud as hell!

January 21, 2003, 04:17 AM
I like using those little foam ear plugs that expand into your ear. The're cheap and comfortable. You can double up with a good set of muffs until the flinching stops, but I find the little foamies offer good protection all on their own. I have my hearing checked annualy and there's been no problem so far ...

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