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Old October 21, 2011, 11:01 PM   #1
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Training Without Hearing Protection

Went to dinner tonight with some friends and we were discussing firearms training. One of the guys made the comment that you should occasionally train by firing your weapon with no ear protection so you are prepared in a real life situation. He went on to say that the military does this to prepare for the sound of battle. I suspect nothing ever really prepares you for battle, but I guess I can see his point.

So, do any of you actually train by firing your weapon without ear protection? Is this common in modern military or law enforcement training?
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Old October 21, 2011, 11:11 PM   #2
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Wonder if anyone who wants to know if the got shot in real life gunfight shoots theirself to see how they will handle that! haha ear protection should be a must.. always when you can I have hearing problems now due to years of shooting in younger years without. Cant go back in time but would like to tell others it was a stupid thing to do.
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Old October 21, 2011, 11:12 PM   #3
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I did it twice by accident.

In the middle of a timed competition I fired 12 rounds from my M16 with no hearing protection. I fhad my earplugs in their case when the buzzer rang to start, I didn't want to lose time putting my ear plugs in.

Another time, a friend and I hiked 5 miles out to a spot to shoot and I forgot my hearing protection. If I had know then that I would have hearing problems later on in life like I do now - I would have hiked the 10 miles to and back.
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Old October 21, 2011, 11:13 PM   #4
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I don't know about military or LE, but I have tried it. It is a bad idea, and something I wouldn't recommend anyone do. Any hearing loss sustained is permanent, and in a gun fight, you won't hear the gun fire anyways. If at all avoidable, don't do it.
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Old October 21, 2011, 11:13 PM   #5
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tactically speaking - I wonder how situationally aware someone is going to be later on in life when they can't hear...
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Old October 21, 2011, 11:58 PM   #6
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Tell ya what, set your alarm for about 3am and without turning on any lights or using a flashlight, grab your hd gun and pop off a few rounds. That should do the trick. And for added practice, get into your vehicle and pop off a few rounds inside to simulate a car jacking.

Save your hearing and wear protection all the time.

You can't realistically practice for that 3-4am home invasion or that gas station robbery. Besides, if you ever do have to use your gun you won't remember that time you didn't wear ear protection anyway.
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Old October 22, 2011, 12:05 AM   #7
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Heh ? Waddich ya say?


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Old October 22, 2011, 12:44 AM   #8
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This sounds like one of the things I hear a lot.

Not so bright people trying to make themselves look brilliant by proving that conventional wisdom is wrong.

"hey, you know what? when you are shooting that elephant, you won't have hearing protection, so you better make sure you're used to listening to your .700 nitro express without protection! You wouldn't want to flinch, would you?

Conventional wisdom USUALLY becomes dominant because of a couple of things. It is tested by time, and many, many people, have found it to be right. Unconventional wisdom is seldom either wise, nor conventional. it's not stood the test of time. All it is is a protesting counterpoint.

We're not talking about grey areas like fast and light vs slow and heavy, this is a pretty specific point. Can a person become an effective hunter or combat shooter while wearing hearing protection at all times? Gimme a break. Of course they can. Once a trained shooter puts the finger to the trigger, the mind will be focused to the exclusion of most estraneous stimuli. A point to consider is that EVERY time he pulled the trigger on a live round, it went bang, and there was recoil. Is the degree of loudness really going to distract someone to the point that he can't function properly? Come on.

OTOH, anyone here of my age can testify to the ongoing cumulative damage from shooting unprotected. 20 years ago, I capped a giant cottonmouth with a super hot .357 round, and that one shot began a permanent tinnitis condition that just keeps getting worse.

Training with duty rounds to acclimate oneself to the recoil, noise, and other factors is necessary. Training without hearing protection so that one will be used to loud noises is ridiculous.

Did the guy perchance mention that you need to train without safety glasses, as well, because your sights will look different to your bare, unprotected eyes? If he hasn't suggest it to him, so he'll have another silly idea to share with people.
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Old October 22, 2011, 06:35 AM   #9
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That's a really dumb idea. Your ears will experience enough wear-and-tear just going through life as it is.

My hearing is still pretty acute, but it already is declining some due to my age. I have a couple of friends who suffer badly from tinnitus however, and some of it is due to shooting without hearing protection.

If I'm ever in a SD or HD situation, I won't be too worried about the insult to my ears, but why court trouble needlessly? Silly

Yeah, do people shoot themselves to test how they handle that situation? Crazy thinking.

Last edited by Sparks1957; October 22, 2011 at 06:43 AM.
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Old October 22, 2011, 10:00 AM   #10
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20 years ago when first training for security in the military... they had us one at a time fire "1" Round without hearing protection at an outdoor range. Just .45ACP out of a 1911. That was all I needed to know that firing without hearing protection is a bad thing.

/two cents
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Old October 22, 2011, 10:28 AM   #11
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That is pure nonsense, and will ruin your hearing fast.
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Old October 22, 2011, 10:30 AM   #12
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It's a terrible idea. I was in the infantry for 6 years and hearing protection was always part of live-fire training.

About 12 years ago, my future brother-in-law and future uncle-in-law asked me if I wanted to go shooing on some family property they had access to. We brought a couple of .45's, an AK-variant, some .22's, etc. So I proceed to break open a package of ear-plugs to distribute and they actually scoffed at me! I was shocked esp as my now-wife's uncle had already told me of his vast firearms experience.

He's had permanent hearing loss from that day alone.
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Old October 22, 2011, 10:43 AM   #13
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Shooting w/o hearing protection is not a part of modern LE training. I have however shot without hearing protection, sometimes due to forgetfulness and sometimes due to necessity.

The noise of conventional defense weapons won't bother you in a fight, if you're outside.

In enclosed spaces, you'll notice it but that's about it. It might interfere with your ability to hear radio traffic or normal conversation, during the event. You may suffer some ear pain or hearing loss afterward. You can live with these things, which incidentally, you have to be alive to notice.

I do not recommend any firearms training which does not include hearing protection. Kinda pointless to be so tactical that you can't hear the Wonder Bread truck bearing down on you...
I'm inclined to think if a man hasn't gotten his point across in 4912 attempts, 4913 probably isn't going to do it.
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Old October 22, 2011, 11:02 AM   #14
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I've never been through a military course of fire that did not include hearing protection, and I've never heard of such a military course of fire. I have to wonder if the OP's friend made that up.

As far as it being a useful thing.... it might be equally useful to train at shooting when injured by knife or gunshot, yet I don't know of any courses that stab, slash, or shoot their students prior to the course of fire. Similarly, I don't know of any schools that break the primary arm, to force good weak-hand training.

So, no, I don't actually see any utility whatever in deliberately training without hearing protection.

Shot a .30-06 outdoors once, without protection, and had about 8 hours of tinnitis. Shot a .357 indoors, once, with slipped hearing protection, and had three days of tinnitis. I was VERY happy when that subsided, since I wasn't sure it would.

I'll pass on any further such exposures.
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Old October 22, 2011, 12:03 PM   #15
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Training Without Hearing Protection

So, do any of you actually train by firing your weapon without ear protection? Is this common in modern military or law enforcement training?
The two sheriff's departments with which I was affiliated did not train without hearing protection.

I will not intentionally experience the hearing damage that occurs when guns are fired. I will always wear hearing protection if I have a choice.

I have experienced the sound of shooting without hearing protection. I also have significant permanent hearing loss. My last hearing test about ten years ago showed a 20% hearing loss in my right ear in the mid range frequencies. My hearing is so bad I can not reliably tell in what direction a sound originates. I have great difficulty in understanding someone speaking if there is any other sound to interfere with hearing what is being said.
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Old October 22, 2011, 12:23 PM   #16
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I think the only military that practices without hearing protection is the National Defense Force of the Republic of Elbonia
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Old October 22, 2011, 01:36 PM   #17
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I wouldnt deem it totally necessary to train without hearing protection due to potential damage to your ears; however, Awhile back when I was younger and dumber I actually fired one full 6 shot .38 without ear protection out doors. After each shot my ears rang louder and louder and By the last shot my ears rang and contiued to ring for days. Dumb I know however no conceavible damage seems to have remained. I do look back at that and pretty much believe that a .38 or similar "decibel" sounding caliber is pretty much the max noise I want from a defensive gun. It's tolerable enough and not disorienting as larger calibers could be. Audio exclusion is a possibility that could occur in gun defense situation some will say but on the other hand I shudder to think of shooting say a .357 indoors without ears. OUCH.
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Old October 22, 2011, 02:58 PM   #18
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Not really a good idea and I don't think it's worth the "added experience"

When I was 10 years old I set off a lady finger firecracker in a small foyer-- no ear protection of course. I have permanent tinnitus from that and my ears still ring decades later.
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Old October 22, 2011, 04:01 PM   #19
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We all did things I'n the past that we pay for now. I shot without protection back then and can't hear correctly now. Last night my wife said she was I'n the mood and i thought she said she wanted to move. I'm gonna start trying to lip read.
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Old October 22, 2011, 04:21 PM   #20
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...He went on to say that the military does this to prepare for the sound of battle. I suspect nothing ever really prepares you for battle, but I guess I can see his point.
Not the same thing. Military battle sounds aren't (usually) the same as SD spittin' distance situations. Not an expert on the subject, but I'd look into the issue of auditory exclusion that many citizens and LE experience in real shootings.
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Old October 22, 2011, 04:46 PM   #21
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I don't know about other Department of the Army Police forces but with mine if you are on the range you wear hearing and eye protection. As one of the instructors I make sure our officers have both. We are considering doubleing up on the hearing protection (using both plugs and muffs). The only exception would be if you use electronic muffs. Fortunately both instructors bought their own electronic muffs.
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Old October 22, 2011, 05:08 PM   #22
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I am already legaly deaf. I train with hearing protection to keep from loosing what little I have left. My hearing aids will dampen the sound of one shot. Though after that they do not do anything. I have not even tried to see if they work for the first shot. Ear plugs are cheap.

Hearing aids cost me $2000 if my hearing were better then I could have bought a very nice gun, or three with that money.
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
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Old October 22, 2011, 05:38 PM   #23
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People keep bringing up "auditory exclusion" as though it's some sort of inherent protection. It isn't. Think of it more in the sense of "tunnel vision" of the ears.

In other words, you may not hear things when in fight or flight mode, because of diversion of blood to other areas. However, the nerves in your ears are still encountering the changes in air pressure that sound energy makes - they just aren't conveying the impulses to your brain in their normal manner.

What this means is your ears are still taking damage, you just don't notice it.

To add to the fun factor, past a certain point, nerve damage is cumulative, and often permanent.
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Old October 22, 2011, 06:20 PM   #24
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None of the courses of fire I've shot in the military ever had us without hearing protection. As a matter of fact, we couldn't shoot without it. The only time we didn't have hearing protection was if it fell out by accident or someone took out their earplugs.

Shooting without earplugs doesn't prep you for combat, it makes you lose your hearing. No, you probably won't have hearing protection in a firefight. But until then, why rush the hearing loss? Use common sense, use eye and ear pro when you can.
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Old October 22, 2011, 06:33 PM   #25
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Dumb, dumb, dumb. I have batteries in both ears now, and it stinks. Shooting, playing in bands, working with power tools and machinery, it all added on to a probable genetic predisposition for hearing loss and I needed hearing aids before I hit 50.

As MLeake says, auditory exclusion is a phenomenon that dampens the perception of the sound by the brain. The physical effect of the sound waves on the fine structures of the ear, where the real damage to the hearing apparatus occurs, is not abated. Think of it this way: If the sound reaches the ear, it causes damage, regardless of whether it goes the rest of the way in to the brain.

The feeling of isolation when conversation is going on around you and you are the only one who aren't a part of it is not something anyone should willingly inflict upon themselves.
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