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On Hearing Protection...

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Dave McCracken, Jun 6, 2005.

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  1. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    The Audiologist broke it to me gently.

    "Mr McCracken, you have good hearing up to about 2K Hertz. Above that, your ability to hear is quite attenuated. Unfortunately, there's not much that can be done to help you. The Tinnitis may be reduced a bit through medication"....

    Most young people hear well into the 20KH range. I'm 58, but the big reason my hearing is so bad is noise, plain and simple. Tinnitis is hearing crickets, peeper frogs and hisses that live only inside my head.

    I shot a 22 first at maybe the ripe old age of 5. No hearing protection.

    I shot a shotgun for the first time around the age of 9 or 10. No hearing protection.

    The first time I used protection was basic training.

    My ears have endured gunfire, jet engines, chainsaws, explosions, unmuffled piston engines, and enough rock music to deafen anyone both as spectator and performer. 20 years in front of a wall of amps leaves its mark, and not just on Ozzy.

    The Otolaryngologist wasn't as diplomatic as the Audiologist. "What your ears have endured is decades of abuse. Take up golf"...

    Now to watch TV, I have a remote speaker near my better ear so the family can stay in the same room with me. In a crowded room, I cannot follow a conversation.

    Wanting to keep what little I've got left, I asked some questions and got answers of less comfort than I like.

    The Ear Doc again.....

    "A shotgun's report is on the order of 150 decibels. Good plugs will reduce that maybe 25 or 26 DB. That still leaves enough noise to create damage. You have to get the pulse under 95 DB before damage doesn't happen".

    The disposable plugs I'm using at the moment help 22 Db's worth.My favorite Silencios run 26. IOW, further damage happens with every shot. There's three sets of muffs here, the best here is rated at 28 DB. The trouble is these do not stay on during the shot. So, no help there.

    Using a long barrel and light loads do help a bit, but even a 28 gauge with 3' of barrel will hurt your hearing.

    The Ear Doc recommended the Christmas tree style of plug, not because of its efficacy in reducing damage, but they are less likely to ram ear wax against the drum and reduce hearing and increase the chance of infection. That's why I went to him originally. He mined old wax from my ears and now my hearing is not as bad as before. Still bad though.

    I'm trying out a new style of protection, its a ball of some clay like material that one does not insert like a plug, but covers the entire ear well and blocks sound. What one hears then is conducted by bone, and reduced in Db and effect. I'll also look for muffs that stay in place during the firing cycle.

    The moral of this tale? Stay protected.
     
  2. A Cleaner

    A Cleaner Member

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    I'm sorry to hear the news, Dave.

    Thank you very much for putting this out there and making everyone else more aware of the risks of hearing loss associated with gunfire.

    A quick story:
    I once had a female friend that was a classical ballet dancer. If you know any dancers at all, you know that their feet endure endless abuse and after a particularly long rehearsal can end up looking only a little better than meat falling straight from the grinder.

    Once, my friend Jess says to me, "I hate my feet and I hate the way they look. I can't ever wear sandals because my feet would scare people."

    I replied, "Jess, those feet look the way they do because you pursue one of your passions much further than the average person. Viewed in that light, they're beautiful. They are a symbol of your dedication."

    Hopefully a little silver lining there. Thanks again.
     
  3. Blue Line

    Blue Line Member

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    My story is far too similar to Dave's so the only thing I can add is:

    WEAR HEARING PROTECTION BEFORE ITS TOO LATE - DOUBLE THE PROTECTION WITH MUFFS AND PLUGS!
     
  4. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    I lost hearing in the military, too, 3'50 cal rifles a few feet from my head, with sound powered phones as hearing protection...yeah, right!
    I used to "try" a few rounds from my chosen personal weapon to "see what it really sounds like", when I was young and stupid. Probably another source of my hearing damage. I will probably be deaf before death. Oh, well, then I won't need hearing protection anymore....
     
  5. Dave R

    Dave R Member

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    As usual, a well-written education for us. Thanks, Dave. Good advice.
     
  6. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    Another "me, too!" here... :(

    I've got hearing damage in both ears, the result of too many gunshots without protection (on patrol in a combat zone, you can't wear earplugs, as some of you will know all too well! :D ). I now double-up with plugs and muffs to save the remainder of my hearing, but as Dave says, there are some muffs that won't let you get the proper stock weld when shooting long guns. I must try some of the new miniaturized muffs, to see if they're any better in this respect.
     
  7. Clemson

    Clemson Member

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    Yeah, I was stationed at Ft. Rucker in the days before they issued hearing protection for helicopters. I think the best I ever got was cotton for my ears at the range.

    Nowadays I wear EAR foam plugs underneath muffs. The EAR's are rated at 29 dB and the muffs that I have been using are rated at 26 dB attenuation. I can really notice a difference on the pistol range.

    Clemson
     
  8. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    Thanks, folks.

    A Cleaner, Photographer Annie Leibowitz took a pic of Barishnikov's feet for a Rolling Stone article. Like your friend's, they show the years of toil and abuse.

    I just can't accept deafness as the price of expertise. As we all know, expertise comes with practice.

    Note the advice to double up on plugs and muffs, everyone.

    Preacherman, old friend from my youth was an artilleryman in Nam. Bronze Star, and at 58 he uses two hearing aids to get about what I have left.

    A conversation between us must appear to outsiders like an argument. We both talk quite loudly to the other.
     
  9. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    I went to work for Uncle Sam in the early '80s. When I inprocessed into my first duty station they gave me a full battery of exams to establish a health baseline, to include a hearing test.

    That was after 20 plus years of shooting, much of it before anyone warned about using hearing protection. I had measurable loss of hearing 'way back then. You can be sure it made me a believer and I have used plugs and muffs religiously since, and insist on others doing so as well.

    Dave, sorry to hear of your impairment. Glad it is no worse than it is, and thanks for the warning- well said, as usual.

    lpl/nc
     
  10. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Dave - I hope the younger guys heed your warning and make sure they are well enough protected. Hopefully these days there is so much more emphasis on this that most will be better off than we were.

    I have lost some ''top end'' too tho knock on wood, not enough to make me struggle too much. How well tho I recall, 1960 thru 63, when shooting long range rifle with MkIV's at Bisley as an Army cadet (UK) - we had usually nothing - other than a twisted piece of cleaning patch stuffed loosely into each ear. Spotting for another guy was almost painful from his blast - and yet back then little was thought about the potential for harm.

    For sure - hang on like heck to what is left!
     
  11. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    Lee. I hope and pray they do also. Hearing is too precious to waste.

    95, when I shot at Bisley in 68 or 9, everyone had plugs or muffs on. Great range.
     
  12. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Sl off main topic but yes indeed Dave - Bisley camp has probably one of the finest sets of ranges anyone can imagine. They shoot (or shot) The Queen's Prize there.

    In those early years I shot 200 on the ''short'' range and for 500 we used the magnificent ''Century'' range.. Out beyond the Century, sorta buried away was the IIRC ''Little Siberia'' - which was the place for full auto's (grin).

    Going up the other way from the 200 short were all the pistol ranges (I shot em all back in the 80's when going there for Pistol (insert year) whenever I could.

    Even further up beyond those was the 1000 yard deal and beyond that the running deer range. I guess it is all about the same now but (sigh) so long since last time there - must be 1988 that was my last pistol visit.

    OK - nostalgia over - for now! :rolleyes: :)
     
  13. auschip

    auschip Member

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    I'm 29 approaching 30, and have had tinnitus for the last 10 years or so (a mixture of shooting, loud music, & working arund industrial plants and equipment). I double bag with custom molded ear plugs from Ear inc. ( http://www.earinc.com/ ) and muffs. Together they give somewhere around 56-60db of reduction.
     
  14. TrapperReady

    TrapperReady Member

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    Sorry about the loss Dave. We're probably in about the same boat, except that I'm not quite 39 years old. Mine started going quite a while ago, and has gotten noticably worse over the past few years.

    Funny how the combination of military service and recreational shooting can really do a number on your hearing. The past couple years, I've found that my tinnitis has gotten more irritating (to the point where I don't like total silence -- road noise while driving is an almost perfect white-noise cover).

    For a while, I used either foam or custom plugs and muffs. However, when shooting rifles and shotguns I found that the seal would often lift open on the right side of the muffs... so I've gone to just the custom plugs. I use long barrels and light loads, but probably should look into some low-profile muffs to add on.

    In any event, I watched my father-in-law go through social withdrawal due to age-related hearing loss. I'm determined not to suffer the same fate... even if I do have experience a similar problem. He was always shy and uncomfortable about his hearing loss and would try to pretend that he could understand what people around him were saying. I've taken the opposite approach and am completely comfortable with telling people I can't hear them very well, and will ask them to look directly at me and speak a little more slowly. Everyone I've ever asked to do that has been willing and happy to comply.

    I do make hearing (and eye) protection a topic which is covered in depth with any new shooters I am introducing to the sport. There's no reason to screw things up any worse than they need be.
     
  15. GRB

    GRB member

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    Dave,

    Sorry to hear the poor diagnosis.

    Recently I went to a ear doc myself because I have lots of trouble picking words out of people's sentences and I have that nasty ringing in the left ear (the one usually pointing more or less forward when I shoot a rifle, a shotgun or even a pistol using my stance). Funny thing is the doc said I have no hearing loss, I guess his equipment knows better than me constantly having to ask people to repeat themselves because I would have sworn I did not hear what they said. Sure I can barely hear those audible beeps through a head set in a sound proof room, but that does not make it any easier to hear what anyone says to me.

    Oh well most of my problems probably stem from working at an airport for 15 years and guns. The thing is I almost always use hearing protection and I often double up while shooting. I use both foam ear plugs and an ear muff type set of hearing protectors. The reason I use both is, as I have been told, because a lot of sound it transmitted into the inner ear not only through the ear canal but through the area around the ear. The muffs help prtect from this sound somewhat. The added foam ear plugs also help if the muffs get knocked out of place, such as when shooting a shotgun. Who knows maybe that is why I can hear those darned beeps so well. Now if only I could figure out how to stop the incessanr ringing in my left ear I would be a happier man.

    All the best,
    Glenn B
     
  16. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    Dave, I'd like to know how the tinnitus medication works out if you decide to try it. Mine is so bad I can't hear a tree full of locusts - not entirely a bad thing come to think of it.

    Cutting down on the caffeine and aspirin helps some.

    John
     
  17. Spider

    Spider Member

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    Dave, the North-South skeet tournament is at PG Trap & Skeet this weekend, and I am sure there will be a big vendor turnout. You might want to consider going by there and dropping the $35 - $40 for a set of custom-molded earplugs. They definitely attenuate sound more than the over the counter foam plugs and similar, and will last a few years if taken care of. I have been very happy with mine.
     
  18. frankt

    frankt Member

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    I am sorry to hear that anyone has to put up with the hearing problems talked about on this thread. I have a couple of friends in the same boat and luckily they could afford some very expensive hearing aids that have given them back a degree of hearing where they can enjoy life a lot more.

    As a note to the younger shooters,Hearing Protection Works! I have always been sensitive to load noises so I wore hearing protection for my comfort and not because I knew better. Luckily at almost 59, I can hear a deer walking long before most people can see him.

    This is after four years of working on the flightline with the Marines and 32 years of Aircraft maintenance for a big airliner and a lifetime of shooting.

    So Kids :D Always wear hearing protection. Muffs and plugs are best but anything is better than nothing.

    Dang, My wife is calling me. Time to pretend I can't hear again! ;)
     
  19. TallPine

    TallPine Member

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    Huh :confused: :D

    It doesn't help when the young people talk 90 mph and drop out their consonants :(
     
  20. AnthonyRSS

    AnthonyRSS Member

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    I make it a point to speak clearly and look at the person I'm talking to, especially older people.

    I wear plugs while shotgun shooting but double up when I shoot pistols. I think the noise is why many people flinch, and anything to avoid that is worthwhile.
     
  21. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    Chris, I shot on the 1000 yard range. I was alternate on the Base rifle team. But enough thread drift....

    John, it's unlikely that I will take meds for the chirps and whistles. I'm on a massive amount of drugs now. Cardio Doc says I take more stuff than any other patient he has or had. I take aspirin on command, but caffiene and I are splitsville since the angioplasty last July. FYI, knocking off the java was harder than cigarettes.

    I hate to add anything else to the list that doesn't deal with a life threatening situation, I've been fortunate in avoiding adverse interactions so far.

    An aside:

    This Doc told me the stent they installed came with a lifetime guarantee. That sounded good until I thought about it....


    TR, I've been ducking noisy parties for years because I can't follow a conversation. That's not good, I'm a gregarious soul.

    As for custom plugs, I may go that way to preserve what's left. Both of the docs in the thread start say hearing aids will not help.
     
  22. Billy Sparks

    Billy Sparks Member

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    Dave take a good look at the custom molded ear plugs. I have a set and hear them when shooting rifles and shotguns. Altough I am not quite 40 yet and got into shooting late I can tell I have lost some hearing. In case no one has noticed over the years they have started moving the sirens and airhorns off the top of firetrucks and ambulances to the bumper, etc. I started my second life in the fire/rescue service at a VFD in 1980 back then we plopped a 100 watt siren speaker directly over your head, then you had to turn the radio wide open to hear anything.
     
  23. dfaugh

    dfaugh Member

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    I got the same news 4 years ago at age 46

    Besides guns, I was into hard-rock music (still am), and racing cars...So I'll just reinforce what Dave said to all the younger shooters out there...WEAR HEARING PROTECTION...My kids still don't get why I'm paranoid about them wearing hearing protection, but they know that I'm half-deaf, so that helps...But worse for me, anyay, than the hearing loss, is the CONSTANT noise(s) I have to put up with(was that the doorbell? Oh sorry, guess not!)

    Now, of course, I always wear hearing protection, but its a matter of too little too late.....

    Suspect alot of people in our age group are suffering with this, but let's not let the new generation of shooters do so....Its for the children!
     
  24. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    Custom plugs it is. Will advise.

    To our younger shooters. Let this be a lesson......
     
  25. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    I don't know if I have enough of a hearing loss to register at the doctor's checkup. I've gone through that little audio machine with the beeps and came out fine according to him. I've even checked with a tone generator to see if I have full range of hearing without fading in the upper frequencies and it sounds fine.

    However after one too many loud rock concerts, I've had ringing for many weeks which eventually died down to a very, very faint buzz that I can only hear in the dead of night when I'm trying to sleep. My ears will also sometimes spontaneously start ringing for a few minutes and die down again. It causes me to jerk and look around because it can be startling and I get looks sometimes.

    At 22 years of age, it's scary enough that I double up indoors now. Outdoors the sound intensity drops off quite a bit and traditionally I only used cans and it deadens the sound very well. I also added additional stuffing to my cans so it adds a little more protection. However, I'm going to start doubling up outdoors or move to some high-end plugs since big cans are a pain to get a cheekweld.

    In the military, do you get hearing protection during basic and your selected MOS/school training? I'm planning to go this route and I was curious (and nervous)
     
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