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Hearing loss and shooting.

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by PinnedAndRecessed, Jun 19, 2005.

  1. We're all interested in the shooting sports and how it impacts our hearing. Noise hurts us and is measured in decibel levels.

    Here are some examples. Video arcades - (110 dB), firecrackers - (125-155 dB at a distance of 10 feet), live music concerts - (120 dB and above) , gunshots - (150-167 dB), movie theatres - (118 dB), health clubs and aerobic studios (120 dB), sporting events (127 dB), motorboats - (85-115 dB), motorcycles - (95-120 dB), snowmobiles - (99 dB) , "boom cars" - (140 dB and above).

    Gradual hearing loss may occur after prolonged exposure to 90 decibels or above.
    Exposure to 100 decibels for more than 15 minutes can cause hearing loss.
    Exposure to 110 decibels for more than a minute can cause permanent hearing loss.

    Properly fitted earplugs or muffs reduce noise 15 to 30 dB. The better earplugs and muffs are approximately equal in sound reductions, although earplugs are better for low frequency noise and earmuffs for high frequency noise.

    Note that some earplugs only reduce the noise 15 dB. If you’re shooting a gun at 167dB, the noise level is still 152dB.

    Simultaneous use of earplugs and muffs usually adds 10 to 15dB more protection than either used alone. I use cheap muffs and cheap plugs. If they’re only providing the minimum protection level, then I’m still suffering hearing loss while shooting. Plus, muffs won’t seal around glasses. (I wear glasses.)

    I’m making an appointment with an audiologist this week to figure it out.
  2. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Well-Known Member

    There are some audio charts floating around the Internet with similar information. One SPL chart states long term exposure to 90dB sound (over an 8 hour period) can cause permanent damage as much as higher decibel sounds over a shorter period of time which might afflict those who work in a loud noise environment.

    There are also audio curves that show hearing damage isn't linear across the audible spectrum and certain frequency noises are more harmful than others. Bass frequencies from 20 cycles to about 80 are long and less energetic than shorter wavelengths cycles are not as hard on the ears and therefore have a greater threshold before damage can occur (but still isn't recommended to boast it up on those yo homie cars). Treble is going to be more energetic and I'm sure anyone who has turned up the treble knob until it's harsh and raspy on a pair of tweeters has felt that the sound actually hurt their ears and made them cringe.

    Also depending on the environment you're in, the preceived and actual sound can change. The impulsive sounds generated by shooting in an indoor range presents a room with many hard parallel and flat surfaces that can reflect nearly equally intense reflections and reverberate it which increases the duration of a firearm's report. I'm sure almost everyone has noticed that perceived gunshots are much louder indoors than outdoors. The acoustic energy in a given sound outside usually doesn't reflect back to you as strongly as that indoors.

    In terms of hearing protection, I now use a pair of 33dB foamies and ~30dB cans indoors. There is a good thread on this that's already been started in the shotgun section and might provide some insight. It can be found here: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=141788
  3. Third_Rail

    Third_Rail Well-Known Member

    I wish silencers were title 1 or better yet, like ammo.
  4. TMM

    TMM Well-Known Member

    i second that, third rail.

    what a wonderful thing they would be to have.
    do you need a Class III liscence or just need to pay the $200 tax stamp to the ATF?
  5. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Well-Known Member

    To put things into laymen's terms:

    Years back I got 8th row tickets for the Rolling Stones. Afterwards my friend and I couldn't hear a thing for at least an hour, and hearing was affected for over a day after.

    Once, on a cycle trip in Utah, when the heat was unbearable, I sat myself under a juniper tree and took aim with my revolver at a Pepsi can. One round of Federal Hydra Shok .357 ammo and I couldn't hear a thing for hours, then had a ringing in my ears that continued the next morning.

    When using indoor ranges, I put on plugs and muffs. It also helps me concentrate by completely eliminating the conversations around me.
  6. You don't use protection outdoors?
  7. Taurus 66

    Taurus 66 Well-Known Member

    The flash and report from a .357 - (priceless) :neener:
  8. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    P&R, you need to consider different muffs if yours will not seal around your glasses, or maybe different glasses. I wear glasses and have facial hair that does not seem to seriously preclude the sound protection.

    You mentioned above where using muffs and plugs together doesn't add all that much additional protection. I have read this other places and don't understand it. If you wear muffs with a NRR of 25 and are up against 150 dB noise, then the sound penetrating the muffs should be 125. If you are wearing plugs with NRR of 25 under the muffs, then they are working against 125 dB, the sound penetrating the muffs. Since they provide an additional 25 dB of noise reduction, the the sound passing through the muffs and plugs in the auditory canal should be 100 dB. However, folks say it is more like 110 or 115 dB.

    Aside from the problem of bone and soft tissue sound conduction that I have not seen explained and measured, why isn't the doubling of protection supposed to produce actual doubled protection?
  9. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

    Folks might like to add their browsing on this thread to include THIS ONE started by Dave McCracken - some more useful thoughts and info.
  10. Guy on another forum said to spear a foam plug on the arm of my glasses. Move said plug onto the arm where the muffs contact the glasses. Thus sealing the area.
  11. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member


  12. That's exactly what I said. He explained you put a foam ear plug on the part of the glasses that go over your ear. (Like putting a marshmallow on a hanger.) Move the plug to where it will be just underneath the earmuffs. It seals the gap.

    (Sure is starting to sound like a lot of work, isn't it?)
  13. PAC 762

    PAC 762 Well-Known Member

    I'm only 26 and my hearing is already down to 60% in my left and 80% in my right ear. I used to only wear those plugs with the BB's inside that offer minimal protection. I now always wear plugs and muffs while shooting, and plugs + full face helmet when riding my motorcycle. I also stay in the back at concerts.
  14. dingaling

    dingaling New Member

    any one have any idea what freq's those 150to160db gunshot loudness ratings are taken at?
  15. Waitone

    Waitone Well-Known Member

    It has chapped my diapers for some time now that federal law basically requires the participants of some sports to endure health threatening and destructive rules. It is one thing to live with threats to health because that is my choice. It is a different issue to be endangered by state law.

    I wonder if perhaps we couldn't get the NRA tee'd up to push back this one federally mandated threat to the health and well-being of official American taxpayers.
  16. gbelleh

    gbelleh Well-Known Member

    I'm 28 and I have some hearing loss from playing in orchestras for over 10 years.

    I always wear double hearing protection when shooting.
  17. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Well-Known Member

    PinnedAndRecessed: "You don't use protection outdoors?"

    Of course. But I just go with the muffs alone, not combined with ear plugs.
  18. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    If it's any encouragement, I've been shooting for ~20 years, generally using both plugs and muffs together, and have better-than-average hearing (I'm 34). You don't have to lose it.
  19. aerod1

    aerod1 Well-Known Member

    I have some hearing loss but it is due to working in the construction industry for the last 39 years. While shooting, I have been using plugs and muffs for years. I use both for shooting indoors and outdoors. It seems like the safe and prudent thing to do.
    Have fun shooting and take care of your hearing. Once the hearing goes it doesn't come back.

  20. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Better, I think, to lose one's hearing than sight, but there are times when my hearing loss is an embarrassment, and I've been known not to notice ambulances and police cars until they were right behind me.

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