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Old January 21, 2006, 08:42 PM   #1
kesserman
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Plugs and Muffs - Indoor range

Just got back from my basic firearms safety class. I'm curious if shooters 'budget" the amount of 160+ decibel rounds they expose themselves to.

I get a little obsessive/compulsive about safety, and that extends to protecting my hearing. I bought a pair of Pro-Ears rated at 26db, and also used a pair of foam plugs rated at 33db.

I understand decibels are funny things (rated on a logarithmic scale) and NRR ratings are sketchy to say the least. In other words, I'm not getting 59db's of protection. Regardless, we're taking about 170db's of pressure! How can that not kill your hearing!

When I 'suit up', how much of that energy is making it to my ears? I'd like to know if I'm taking enough precaution.

I think I'm doing something right, because the last time I shot, I was only wearing a pair of Peltor 6's at an outdoor range. The guy next to me rattled me pretty good with his .45. By the end of my session, I was really stressed out.

My class had 8 shooters at a time. I felt the concussions, but not in my ears. I have to say, I didn't get stressed. I went outside when I wasn't shooting just to be on the safe side. (It might have been easier this time because we were just shooting 9mm and .38's)

Any thoughts on this long winded post would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old January 22, 2006, 12:20 AM   #2
Lutefisk
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Shoot outdoors if you can!

I'm as concerned with my hearing as you are-I wear plugs and muffs all the time. Now, you will never be able to be scientifically sure how much protection you are getting. If you are set up next to a tall shooter with a .44 magnum, it's gonna be obnoxious no matter what you do. See if you can get to an outdoor range, that should help right off the bat, Don't stress out- if shooting is a relaxing and positive persuit go for it, protect yourself and come what may. That's my attitude.
I'm looking at starting rifle and frankly, I don't know yet if I will be able to hack the noise even with plugs and muffs-all of us have the right to shoot what we wish based on what we will find enjoyable. I'll make up my decision based on a gut feeling of how my ears feel-I won't know scientifically.



Kudos to you for concern for your hearing.
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Old January 22, 2006, 12:45 AM   #3
kesserman
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My Instructors wore custom plugs.....

Thanks for the reply......

Glad it's not just me. It's a sick feeling where you're suddenly claustrophobic, and your nerves are frayed, and you just have to get away from the noise.

Back to topic....

I noticed my instructors running around with what looked like custom fitted plugs (no muffs). Again, how are you supposed to stand that kind of pressure? for two classes a day?

I didn't ask. There were 16 students in the class, and they had their hands full (plus I was plugged and muffed and wasn't up for a lot of conversation.)

I finally have some real shooting experience and it leaves me with more questions than answers.

I enjoy shooting. The discipline it requires has given me more self confidence. (not to mention, it's cool. I have my first silhouette target hanging on the closet door. Got my share of 'X' rings) But at the end of the day, I can't justify exposing myself to an inherently hazardous condition (hearing loss) for a sport.

The literature says "wear eye and ear protection", but that's all. I need some help putting this risk in perspective.
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Last edited by kesserman; January 22, 2006 at 02:31 AM.
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Old January 22, 2006, 02:55 AM   #4
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I'm the type that listens to my music as loud as I can with my ears pressed against the speaker. I thought I could withstand a lot of noise until I went into the range with my plugs just nonchalantly popped into my ears. I immediately turned around with my hands over my ears and found the exit. So I understand were you're comming from. However, I think its more a matter of feeling the blasts rather than hearing them. The way I see it, if its not accually causing your ears pain, then you should be fine. I try different exorcises while I'm in a booth next to someone with a big gun, like trying to load my clip as fast as I can or just holding my gun out and trying not to jump as a shot rings out. If you like to shoot, my advice would be to get in there as much as you can and try to get used to it. If it becomes overwelming, take a break for a few minutes, go outside and clear your head, then try it again.

I've also found that even "cheap" muffs work better than "good" plugs. Just my experience.

best of luck,
keep it up, you won't regret it
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Old January 22, 2006, 01:28 PM   #5
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While we're at it.....

Check out "Tactics and Training" forum's "I got shot at the range" thread. There is a lot to keep in mind in this sport-while stressing out about hearing protection, never let it distract you from situations like the "father with 2 kids" to your left getting in their first day at the range!
Bottom line, my profession demands good ears (there are several, I'll let you guess) and I feel that pistol, in an outdoor range setting with plugs and muffs in a generally uncrowded setting has not damaged my hearing. I bet it's a bigger deal for me than you, I don't take the plugs out until I'm in my truck driving off the property.
Take care.
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Old January 22, 2006, 01:36 PM   #6
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When others are around, such as in the thread noted above, wearing plugs with electronic muffs can still allow you to hear normal things going on around you by turned the volume up high on the muffs to overcome the near deafness plugs and muffs can produce, and yet still get the same plugs and muffs protection.
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Old January 22, 2006, 10:25 PM   #7
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Kesserman, I'm with you on the plugs + muffs. I do this when shooting my 22-250 Savage Striker pistol. I figure hearing is too valuable to risk, and don't shoot anything over .22 without it!! Also shoot outside if you can!! Andy
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Old January 23, 2006, 02:37 PM   #8
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FWIW, 33dB + 26 dB = 34 dB

I don't like shooting without at least 29dB myself. I shoot highpower with a pair of 31dB plugs and a set of Peltor 6s over the top (for a total of 32dB protection).

Ty
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Old January 23, 2006, 08:32 PM   #9
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I just wear 33db ear plugs. When I am shooting it does not bother me. But when I am next to someone who has like a .300wm I jump and hate it. Is this caused by hearing it or feeling the blast. When its like a 30-30 I just block it out. When I shoot indoors i use both plugs and muffs.

Any comments would be useful.

Last edited by aevilpig; January 23, 2006 at 09:08 PM.
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Old January 24, 2006, 11:48 AM   #10
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Muffs generally are better than plugs. Even if you are protecting the ear drum, a lot of noise (vibration from sound waves) is being delivered to your mastoid bone behind the ear. This would normally be covered by muffs, but plugs will leave that wide open.

Both are best, but muffs trump plugs.
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Old January 24, 2006, 12:00 PM   #11
stephen426
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Use Both Plugs And Muffs!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeF
Muffs generally are better than plugs. Even if you are protecting the ear drum, a lot of noise (vibration from sound waves) is being delivered to your mastoid bone behind the ear. This would normally be covered by muffs, but plugs will leave that wide open.

Both are best, but muffs trump plugs.
I have to agree with George on this one. Muffs are better than plugs but both are better than either one alone. I went to an FBI demonstration and they told us that the sound waves entering around the ear were still sufficient to cause hearing damage. While ear plugs reduce the sound waves going into your ear canal, muffs reduce the sound waves transmitted through the bones.

Try a little experiment... Turn up the radio and stick your fingers in your ears. You can still hear it right? Cup your hands over your ears. What seems louder? Your hands will block the sound (not 100% since the sound canstilltravel through your hands) from entering your ear canal and also reduce the sound that travels through your head. That is the same idea behind plugs and muffs.

USE BOTH! You only get one pair of ears so take care of them! Besides, your shooting will likely improve since you won't flinch as much... until the shooter in the next lane whips out the .500 S&W!
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Old January 24, 2006, 02:35 PM   #12
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Each type of earplug is designed to have a maximum NRR at a certain frequency. If you wanted to take the time, you could find someone with an oscilliscope to take to the range with you, and have them figure out what frequency range your firearm operates at. From there, instead of looking at the NRR on an earplug, look at the exact rated dB it blocks at the frequency your firearm operates at.

I have also found that the addition of shooting muffs while already using ear plugs made no difference in the volume, but changed the pitch (frequency).

A while back, I did a 2 week research project on earplugs in an attempt to answer a question on a sportbike forum I frequent, in regards to wind noise inside a helmet. Here is my best attempt to generalize my findings:

Softer earplugs take away from low frequencies more than high frequencies. Hard earplugs do the opposite.

With that in mind, I have also found that for midrange sounds such as gun shots, snare drums, and mail sorting machinery, medium-soft earplugs work the best for me. Specifically foam ear plugs made by a company called Radians.



Good luck in your research.
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Old January 24, 2006, 08:17 PM   #13
kesserman
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Does anyone here, who regularly uses hearing protection ever have any issues with hearing loss or Tinnitus after years of shooting?
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Old January 26, 2006, 12:54 AM   #14
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Anyone?
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Old January 26, 2006, 03:47 AM   #15
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Eeehhhhhh??
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Old January 26, 2006, 07:59 AM   #16
Chris Phelps
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Quote:
Does anyone here, who regularly uses hearing protection ever have any issues with hearing loss or Tinnitus after years of shooting?

Given the fact that hearing protection was not widely used until fairly recently, I would have to say we all learned the hard way. I have a slight hearing loss from playing in highschool rock, jazz, and marching band. Drums + no hearing protection. I also raced motocross when I was younger, and I never wore hearing protection for that either.
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Old January 26, 2006, 09:46 PM   #17
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i was new to firearms when i bought my first handgun.. it was a used s&w model 13 4 " barreled revolver... i just put in the federal factory loads i had bought and cranked off the first round.. oh my god! i thought someone might have slapped me in the ears... i had never heard enything that loud before.. i shot the rest of the cylinder full and didn't shoot any more until i had ear plugs.... i always use ear and eye protection when shooting or spotting silhouette... some of the handcannons my friend uses to shoot steel critters are really painful if you're careless.... like a custom barreled tc contender in .444 marlin!
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Old February 5, 2006, 03:56 AM   #18
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I have found that only ear muffs are good protection. I can leave the range and my ears aren't ringing. I have drivin a car with subs for a long time, shot a lot without hearing protection when I was young and stupid. I can still hear pretty good. My old roomate used to use ear plugs and ear muffs. I'm also not sure how that decibal thing works. I figure if my ears are ringing at the end of the day, I didn't do a good job of protecting my ears. I try to simplify things, I don't know
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Old February 11, 2006, 10:21 AM   #19
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Electronic ear muffs

I have always used hearing protection but it is very inconvenient when you try to talk to range buddies. I plan to buy electronic ear muffs but there are so many out there that it is a confusing choice to make. Does anyone have a recommendation on which model to buy? Money is not the issue, good protection and convenience is! I have talked to range buddies and ROs - only a few folks at my ranges have them - and they all have a different opinion (what else is new). I would hate to pay $130 - $300 just to learn they don't offer what I want. My requirements are simple, I want to eliminate all the bangs and allow all the smack-talking!
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Old February 11, 2006, 06:05 PM   #20
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FYI, there is no mastoid bone, per se. The mastoid is a process (protuberance) of the temporal bone.

The temporal bone isn't the only bone that transmits vibrations. It is just the last one through which the vibrations pass before reaching the business areas of the ear.
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Old February 15, 2006, 04:55 PM   #21
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I picked up Electronic Earmufs from Harbor Freight for $20. I will probably get blasted for buying them (cheap quality, etc...) but they work just great. They arent stereo, just one ear. But for $20 more you can buy another set and swap the unit out from that and PRESTO get a stereo set.

I have had much success with them and noticed no ill effects.
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Old February 15, 2006, 11:09 PM   #22
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Midway has these electronic muffs on sale for $24.95 this month.
I have a pair, and they work well. The sound quality isn't quite as good as with my Peltor Tactical 7S muffs, but they're great muffs for the price.
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Old February 16, 2006, 05:40 PM   #23
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Muffs vs plugs

I have worn plugs and or muffs for shooting since 1972 and plugs at work since 1979. The past several years I have used electronic muffs when I serve as a range officer and I find them quite useful ( Note: range officers are several feet behind the firing line). I have my hearing checked semi-annually and have only a mild high freqency loss in one ear (from working around ultra-high noise fans). Requardless of how it appears to you, plugs are better than muffs. The NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) is highest for Soft Foam Plugs WITHOUT the strings. The weak point for muffs is the seal between your head and the muff. Thousands of different heads but only 2 or three seal styles. You hardly ever get a "perfect" fit.

Sorry about the long rant, but I work in a "high noise industry" and know dozens of Grandfathers who cannot hear their grandchildren sing. It is very sad to watch someone set through their "golden years" unable to hear.
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Old February 16, 2006, 07:14 PM   #24
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schutzen,

Thanks for the reply. Nice to hear from someone who has been shooting longer than I've been alive (well, almost).
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Old April 8, 2006, 10:43 AM   #25
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This might be obvious to some and I think Ive read it here before but I thought I'd share this. I used to wear muffs whenever I shot until I shot a new rifle. I'm not sure if it was the stock design or just how I shouldered the weapon but my right muff lifted slightly off my head. I didnt notice it until it went BANG! Ive switched to plugs now but never thought of useing both. Just something to think about,
Ken
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