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avoiding ear damage with powerful rifles

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by mainecoon, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. moonzapa

    moonzapa Well-Known Member

    I lost most of the hearing in my left ear while sighting in a .338-06 Ackley Improved at my local range. I believe it was either a Barrett .338 Lapua or a .50 cal bolt action rifle that was fired next to me. I tried to ignore the blast but my ear really hurt. I was using foam ear inserts and I only wish I would have gotten a heads-up from the Barrett shooter that I may want to opt for Mickey Mouse ears.
  2. moonzapa

    moonzapa Well-Known Member

    North Africa - WWII

    Just a comment or two about hearing loss from firearms...My father was a veteran of the North Africa campaign during WWII, U. S. Army 1st Division, 16th Infantry (Big Red One). He had a hearing loss and after the war had a mastoid process performed on one of his ears. He told me that along with small arms fire, Garands and M-1 carbines, machine guns, etc., he also had the misfortune to be near the blasts of German and Italian artillery fire. The Vichy French also fired artillery on our troop ships passing by the Rock of Gibralter in WWII. A lot of "boom" factor going on. So, if you know some old WWII, Korean War, or Viet Nam vets don't be surprised if they don't hear very well. :)
  3. wow6599

    wow6599 Well-Known Member

    One of the RO's at a range near me can't hear a thing; you have to repeat yourself over and over.
    Last week I finally asked him if being around firearms has caused his hearing loss. The RO said that in Vietnam, they were told to use cigarette butts in their ears "if the noise bothered them".

    Times have changed.....
  4. ArMagoo

    ArMagoo Member

    I also use the double up method. I just picked up a pair of noise canceling ear muffs from Costco pretty cheap and they let in conversation but really help to cancel out loud noises!
  5. Gaiudo

    Gaiudo Well-Known Member

    Most gun shows do the molded rubber ear plugs that are customized to your ear canal, and often will harden as you wait or walk around the show. These lock in easily. I got some for me and my wife, and that's the only way I've been able to get her to shoot.

    Then I combine that with the suppressor....

  6. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Well-Known Member

    Have our younger veterans noticed a definite loss of hearing from fights with insurgents?

    Can't imagine the deafening sounds in alleyways, but inside a house must be the worst.
  7. Say it again in my good ear???

    I have ringing in my ears as i type. I have mistreated my ears alot not knowing any better. I use to listen to head fones at night before i went to sleep, I've been shooting since i was 3, use to run a 6 head wood moulder for years. Now i would wear hearing protection sometimes , much more as i got older and yes doubling up alot. The worst hearing problem i had was when i was deer hunting. Looking East out of a 4' x 6' shooting box, i turned and looked west and there was a deer herd 30 yards from my box. 20 of them just standing there grazing and looking up at the box. I slowly adjusted my self and picked one, the only problem was the muzzle was still inside of the box. When i shot it felt like somebody jabbed a ice pick in each ear at the same time. My left ear got the worst of it. I swear i got a mild concusion from that. Then one day i got the bright idea to put a muzzle brake on my rifle since i love long range shooting. I figured i could use all the help i could get. It doesn't kick much at all now but that SOB is sooooo loud and it sends a shockwave like a triangle, backwards and forwards. It is a rem 700 270wsm, i am trying to retire it but it is so dam accurate its scary and hard to. I am looking at ear/head gear and think ive made my mind up for this up comng hunting season. Also i find that even thou i am hard of hearing(people mumble) my ears are sensative. Things(sounds) hurt my ears and other people say it doesn't bother them. Dunno if its because i've damaged my ears and they are tender???
  8. Comrade Mike

    Comrade Mike Well-Known Member

    I double up on hearing protection no matter what. I like my ears.
  9. Mastrogiacomo

    Mastrogiacomo Well-Known Member

    I have moderate, sloping to severe hearing in my left ear, and severe, sloping to profound sensorineural loss in my right ear. My mother had Rubella when she carried me so it's been this way from birth although it's getting worse as I age. I love to shoot so to protect my hearing, I'm getting custom made ear plugs through my audiologist and will look to get better ear muffs to wear on top of that.

  10. marvinlozano

    marvinlozano New Member

    of course, protect your ears well to avoid regrets later

    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013
  11. crashyoung

    crashyoung Member

    I second what Thunder Struck says...

    After years of use and abuse, before hearing protection was easily available, and working 30 years at an airport with big LOUD jets, my ears have a constant ring as well.
    The fact that I love LOUD RocknRoll never had an effect tho...

  12. kkayser

    kkayser Well-Known Member

    remove brakes

    Muzzle brakes increase the sound pressure at the ear drum about 100%, for the shooter. Others, more. With loud firearms, I don't think there is a point where "no" damage to hearing occurs. The less sound pressure, the better. People vary widely in their tolerance to noise. If you have any ringing or other hearing disturbances after shooting, you are damaging your hearing.
  13. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

    Big thunderboomers combined with big muzzlebreaks are a recipe for hearing loss. In my early 20's I shot a lot of 50 BMG, and have tinnitus now. Muffs aren't enough, especially if you are spotting for a 50 BMG rifle with a muzzle break.

    Anyone who shoots 50 BMG needs to be considerate and conscious of bystanders, and the state of their hearing protection.

    When I pull RSO duty at competitions, even though the rules of the shooting range I shoot at say "eye and hearing protection is highly recommended", I set up the rules on competitions so it is *not* optional when I'm running the line. I have removed people (even paying members of the range who were spectating) from the immediate vicinity before when they refuse to put on hearing protection.

    I don't let people who are participating remove hearing or eye protection until the range is cold and all firearms are cleared and hands-off. I also visually confirm every competitor has eyes and ears before giving the command to commence fire. People are forgetful creatures, and I have yet to run a match where someone hasn't had to be reminded to put on ears or eyes. I don't want 10 or 12 high powered rifles going off all around someone without ears or eyes!

    I do the opposite sometimes; forget to remove them during cease fire. Last month one of the competitors nudged me and said "range is cold, take off your ears, you are yelling at people."

    I said "Damn right I'm yelling. These ears help me keep my voice volume up where it should be so people pay attention and hear me give commands."

  14. varanid

    varanid Member

    Literally every veteran I know has different degrees of hearing loss.
  15. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart


    The best method I've found is a good set of earplugs combined with a decent pair of amplified muffs.

    The amplified muffs allow you to hear range commands clearly through the earplugs, but cut out to provide increased hearing protection whenever shots are fired.

    Pretty much the best of both worlds, increased hearing protection and increased safety.
  16. jimsouth

    jimsouth Well-Known Member

    I had a Model 70 .243 - and even with good Silencios - after the range - I always had a ringing in my ears. Hardly a big caliber - but always the ringing. Not so with my old 03 Springfield - go figure.
  17. teetertotter

    teetertotter Well-Known Member

    I am with Swampman, ear plugs + good set of amplified muffs. With .22 rifle, I use just the amplified ear muffs outdoors.

    For our club indoor range with 10 stations with poor acoustics, it is the ear plugs with plain earmuffs rated at 31db for winter practice sessions.
  18. bainter1212

    bainter1212 Well-Known Member

    I asked my grandfather once (a Korean War vet) if all of that gun and artillery fire had affected his hearing. He said he wasn't quite sure but his ears would be ringing bad after every bit of prolonged combat - he figured he probably suffered some damage but he is lucky not to have tinnitus or hearing aids.

    A couple of years ago, my grandmother and aunts got it into their heads that grandpa had bad hearing and needed hearing aids. My uncle and I thought that was odd, because my grandpa never says "what?" or asks you to repeat yourself. So grandma made him go get a checkup.
    Next time I saw him, I asked him how his checkup went. He picked up the results from the table and waved them proudly, saying his hearing was very good. My grandma had a grumpy look on her face and said it was "all a bunch of bull".
    I joked that grandpa had achieved the dream - he can tune out women at will!
    I swear my grandpa never laughed louder since I have known him.

    I learned later that studies have shown this to be true....that men teach themselves to tune out a woman's voice after years and years.

    As far as I stand......I suffered some high frequency loss after working on the flightline for several years in the Air Force. A few years later, I had regained most of it......but not all. Goes to show you that there is short term AND long term loss, but all in all damage is damage and if your ears ring, you just damaged them.
  19. 46R

    46R Member

    Definitely double up on your hearing protection, and if you really want to keep your hearing, then don't be afraid to spend some money on the best hearing protection too. Maybe even active ANRs.

    I fly a small experimental airplane (extremely noisy inside) as another hobby, and happily spent nearly a thousand dollars on a premium ANR headset for that.

    As a result of protecting my hearing all my life, including back in the 1980's when I used to run sound for live rock bands, now at 52 yrs old, I can still hear faint sounds at nearly the full 20Hkz upper limit. Too bad my vision hasn't fared nearly as well as I've aged... I'm going to be getting bifocals for my next eye exam :cuss:
  20. kkayser

    kkayser Well-Known Member

    Does active noise reduction reduce the maximum sound pressure on the eardrum? Do they respond quickly enough to be effective against gunshot noise?

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