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Old March 9, 2013, 10:07 AM   #26
natman
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I was thinking about this today. I have never shot a gun without ear protection. Has anyone here had to do that in an emergency situation? Is it so loud that it can damage your ears the first time?
Yes. Even more likely if you do it more.

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Is it pretty scary?
I don't know if about scary, but it's certainly unpleasant. The scary part is wondering when (or even if) the ringing will stop. Because if you do it enough one day it won't.

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Does adrenaline help you overcome the shock of the sound?
This is a common misconception. Being in a stressful situation can distract you enough that you don't notice the sound. Your ears are subjected to the same damage nevertheless.
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Old March 9, 2013, 10:19 AM   #27
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Occasional exposure to loud noises doesn't measurably damage hearing, assuming they aren't so loud that the pressure wave causes burst ear drums. Frequent or constant exposure does damage hear through fatigue of the moving parts. If you shoot a gun and hear a ringing for a while afterwards, that's a sign that you don't want to routinely do that, but not that you have permanent measurable damage. If you limit these experiences to few and far between, genetic factors are more likely to have an impact on your ability to hear in old age.
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Old March 9, 2013, 10:31 AM   #28
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On what do you base that claim, Cesure?

Audiologists and OSHA would disagree; you don't have to burst your ear drums to do permanent damage.

Nerve cells regenerate very slowly, if at all. Until a few years ago, it was thought that they simply did not regenerate, period.

The amount of potential permanent damage is a function of peak noise decibels and duration of exposure. If a sound is loud enough, the duration required for potential permanent damage is measured in seconds.

So, I'd really like to see you back up your last post. I don't think you can, and I think you are giving stupidly dangerous advice.
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Old March 9, 2013, 10:34 AM   #29
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Audiologists and OSHA would disagree; you don't have to burst your ear drums to do permanent damage.
Audiologists, OSHA, and just about anyone who's done the slightest bit of reading on the subject.
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Old March 9, 2013, 10:53 AM   #30
FoghornLeghorn
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Any noise above 140 decibals will damage your hearing. All centerfire calibers start at well above that. Like some have already mentioned, back in the day we never used hearing protection. Back then, they didn't have hearing protection.

I just had my hearing checked for the first time ever. I have low to moderate hearing loss in my left ear (I shoot left handed) and low hearing loss in my right ear. I always hunted without any protection. I'd dread that first shot because it was literally painful. Now I hear cicadas 24/7.

Some of you are talking about shooting without protection. I want you to move away from your computer. Done that? Ok, now slap yourselves. Once your hearing is damaged (and a single shot has the potential to do that), it can never be repaired.
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Old March 9, 2013, 11:11 AM   #31
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From a guy with batteries in his ears:

If you have to accept hearing damage in order to save your own life or that of someone you love, do so. Damaging your hearing just to know what it feels like is most unwise, and will be a decision that you regret.
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Old March 9, 2013, 11:22 AM   #32
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What I want to know is do soldiers wear hearing protection
I was a US Paratrooper for 22 years and, while we always wore ear protection on a fixed range, or in the aircraft, the minute we hit the DZ, or went into the field, the ear pro went away. We figured it was more important to hear the badguys coming than to attenuate our own weapons fire.

Yes, it damaged my hearing (Just ask my wife! She doesn't call me "sordo" for nothing!).
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Old March 9, 2013, 11:32 AM   #33
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At the beginning of a rather lengthy competition stage, of around 24 quickly fired rounds, my ear protection fell off and I kept going, with a 9mm handgun.
Only the first round seemed loud.
For the next two days, it was like having ear congestion from a cold.
But there didn't seem to be any permanent damage.
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Old March 9, 2013, 11:33 AM   #34
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As said, it's not the burst eardrum. It is the damage to the fragile hair cells that detect sound. Look for some images of healthy and noise damaged hair cells. That's the game. Currently, there is no way to regenerate them that is guaranteed, if at all. Fish might, mammals - no or weakly (debated).

The common misconception is that not noticing the sound due to selective attention is protection against damage. Not true.
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Old March 9, 2013, 11:41 AM   #35
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The bit about the so-called NRA instructor who had his students practice a few rounds without hearing protection, so they could know what it was like if they got into a gun fight, made me think of other things people might want to practice (or have their more gullible students practice):

1) Have somebody kick you really, really hard in the crotch, because that is a fairly likely technique to be employed against one in a physical altercation;

2) Have somebody poke you in an eye (or both eyes, if you really want to go for hardcore training) with their thumbs, so you know what that's like;

3) Cut yourself across both hands and forearms, so you know what defensive wounds feel like;

4) You get the idea.

Deliberately doing things that are likely to cause injury, or even somewhat likely to cause injury, in order to "prepare" for what is already a fairly unlikely contingency is, how to put this gently, not smart.
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Old March 9, 2013, 11:41 AM   #36
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Thank you so much for all the great advice.

I already have tinnitus (rock concerts), and sometimes I can't notice it, and sometimes it's ramped up. I just want to mention that I take Arches tinnitus formula, and it has helped me a lot. I've been able to go weeks, occasionally months, and not heard the buzzing and ringing. You can send me a message if you'd like me to tell you where you can order it.

I didn't know that about the foam earplugs not being enough! I just got out my muffs, and I'm using a double clasp to attach them to my jeans. From now on, when I go out with my gun, those muffs are coming with me -- and they're going on before I shoot.
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Old March 9, 2013, 12:20 PM   #37
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Shooting a gun without ear protection

Foam earplugs suck. If I had to use those I may not shoot. The other plugs & muffs are kind of like sunscreen only alot worse for your hearing. My ears ring all the time anyway. Last time I went to indoor range even with muffs on you could hear & feel the 50cal.pistol. Being shot 6 lanes down in a different closed section. I can only imagine what it be like shooting without protection.


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Old March 9, 2013, 12:22 PM   #38
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I didn't know that about the foam earplugs not being enough!
In point of fact, not even plugs combined with muffs is always sufficient. There's also bone conduction of sound waves. This degrades your hearing also. IIRC, it's a factor when we're talking about heavy equipment operators or when firing heavy recoiling (think 50 BMG) guns.
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Old March 9, 2013, 12:27 PM   #39
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Mleake, you forgot the soccer kicks to the head. I never really warm up without a few of those. Fight like you train; Train like you fight.
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Old March 9, 2013, 12:28 PM   #40
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Shooting firearms without adequate protection WILL damage your hearing. One shot might be enough to cause a long term permanent ringing in your ears.

Protect your hearing even when shooting 22 rifles.
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Old March 9, 2013, 12:33 PM   #41
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It's great to read through this thread and see how many people now "get it" about noise-induced hearing loss. It's a change from just a few years ago, and a very welcome one.

Electronic ear muffs are good. The better-quality ones (don't buy them at Harbor Freight ) cancel out loud sounds, while leaving softer ones unaffected. You can even turn up the gain if you're doubling up with plugs, and still hear conversation, range commands, etc. A lot of people now wear them for hunting. If you're so inclined and have the money, an even better solution for hunting and other outdoor use is a set of custom-molded electronic plugs. They're spendy -- but you're only issued one set of hair cells, and as Glenn noted, they don't regenerate. (I wouldn't use the electronic plugs indoors -- you can't double them with muffs and get the same effect.)

More and more people are keeping a set of electronic muffs handy for home defense, as well -- on the nightstand, for example. Some argue that it's pointless because you won't have time to put them on; it's true that you might not, and if so, just do without. But if you do have time to put them on, another benefit is that they can enhance your ability to hear soft noises...
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Old March 9, 2013, 12:34 PM   #42
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JimmyR
When I took my NRA basic pistol class, they made us shoot a few rounds without the ears on, just to help us be used to it if we ever needed to use our gun.
Bad NRA Instructor. Even worst if it was indoors.

The thing about hearing is that damage is cumulative. One extra push (as in a single shot) can push your hearing over the edge.

I've told this story a couple of times already, but I had inadvertently shot a little old 22LR round out of my rifle without hearing protection outdoors at the club last year. That little shot pushed me over the edge. My ears started ringing right afterward and subsided, but I still hear a little ringing pretty much 24x7 from that day forward.

With regard to shooting a gun w/o hearing protection, sure, it's better than being dead or worst. The adrenaline will mask your brain from processing the noise, but it doesn't mean it prevents physical damage. Your hearing might be fine afterward, or you could suffer from tinnitus permanently.
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Old March 9, 2013, 12:36 PM   #43
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More and more people are keeping a set of electronic muffs handy for home defense, as well -- on the nightstand, for example. Some argue that it's pointless because you won't have time to put them on; it's true that you might not, and if so, no harm done -- just go without. But if you do have time to put them on, another benefit is that they can enhance your ability to hear soft noises...
Yup, the wife and I do exactly that and it does enhance hearing. A small advantage in stressful situations at night.
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Old March 9, 2013, 12:56 PM   #44
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Actually, some plugs are pretty good, even better than muffs. These, for example, have an NRR (noise reduction rating) of 30 db, better than most models of muffs, which typically fall in the mid 20's or even less. And that assumes that the muffs fit tightly, which can be a problem when wearing glasses and hats (both of which should be worn when shooting. The plugs, of course, need to be inserted properly to achieve the rated noise reduction, but that's not a big problem. That said, the best thing to do if you really want to protect your hearing is to wear both.
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Old March 9, 2013, 01:18 PM   #45
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Yep
Gunfire damages your fine hairs in your inner ear every shot,
I was shooting my 270 wsm last week with lots of protection and I still felt a shock to my ears for a day, sound is transmitted through air and tissue to the inner ear
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Old March 9, 2013, 01:39 PM   #46
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One reason why the foam plugs don't seem to work well is how they are used.
Just pushing them in the ear doesn't do the job.
They have to be rolled between the palms until they are long and skinny.
Then when they are inserted in the ear canal, they expand to fill it properly.
Try it next time and see the difference.
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Old March 9, 2013, 01:44 PM   #47
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Actually, some plugs are pretty good, even better than muffs. These, for example, have an NRR (noise reduction rating) of 30 db, better than most models of muffs,
If I remember correctly, the formula for ascertaining the above is to take the higher NRR of the two, then add five. So if the muffs have a NRR of 30, and the plugs have NRR of 20, you're actually getting 35 dB of noise reduction. You don't just add the two.

That's an important consideration. A single noise/shot/explosion of 140 dB or more will damage your hearing. (BTW, those little "hairs" are called "ganglia.") So let's say you've got muffs and plugs and are getting 35 dB of noise reduction. The 223 generates, again IIRC, about 153 dB. So you're getting 118 dB actual noise reaching your ears. (My numbers aren't precise; this is just an illustration.)

Anyway, you see how it works. Again, this doesn't have any bearing on the concussive sound waves transmitted through the bones in your jaw/skull. That's present no matter what.

Edited to add: my knowledge of this subject has increased in direct proportion to my degradation of hearing. I guess John Wayne was right. "Life's hard. It's even harder when you're stupid."
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Old March 9, 2013, 02:41 PM   #48
Vanya
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Originally Posted by FoghornLeghorn
If I remember correctly, the formula for ascertaining the above is to take the higher NRR of the two, then add five. So if the muffs have a NRR of 30, and the plugs have NRR of 20, you're actually getting 35 dB of noise reduction. You don't just add the two.

That's an important consideration. A single noise/shot/explosion of 140 dB or more will damage your hearing. <snip> So let's say you've got muffs and plugs and are getting 35 dB of noise reduction. The 223 generates, again IIRC, about 153 dB. So you're getting 118 dB actual noise reaching your ears. (My numbers aren't precise; this is just an illustration.)
That's right. The important thing to keep in mind is that you're trying to reduce intensity of the sound that reaches your ears to the point where it doesn't damage them. I use lighter, more comfortable muffs, with a lower NRR, if I'm shooting a .22 than the ones I use with larger calibers.

Quote:
(BTW, those little "hairs" are called "ganglia.")
Er, no... they're not. The official term for them is "cochlear hair cells."

There's a good article on the structure and function of the inner ear here:
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Sensor...ditory_Anatomy

And for a fairly detailed discussion of noise-induced hearing loss, try this:
http://american-hearing.org/disorder...-hearing-loss/
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Old March 9, 2013, 02:43 PM   #49
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f I remember correctly, the formula for ascertaining the above is to take the higher NRR of the two, then add five. So if the muffs have a NRR of 30, and the plugs have NRR of 20, you're actually getting 35 dB of noise reduction. You don't just add the two.
Decibels are on a logarithmic scale. A 3 point change doubles the value so adding two 30s would only get you to 33. Adding a 20 to a 30 would be somewhere south of that.

I have no hearing in my left ear so supposedly have nothing to damage by not wearing protection. I try to always protect by good ear when shooting but once, out of curiosity, I only protected my good ear and left the bad ear uncovered. I don't remember what I was shooting but found the pressure wave of the shots quite uncomfortable.

My hearing loss is nerve related with a tumor cutting off blood flow to my inner ear so the ear structure, the drum and all those little bones you saw picture of in health class, were unaffected. Since I couldn't hear the noise the sound did not distract me from how it felt and there was no ringing afterwards to distract me. All I had was feeling and it felt bad. Nothing that felt like that could avoid doing damage to hearing. Luckily, the muff on my bad side is useful for keeping the other one on my head.

Outdoors I protect both my good and bad ear when shooting. I double up on the good side when shooting indoors. I've also found that electronic muffs are a net positive. The internal mikes pick up sound from by bad side so I actually can hear it and I'm safer on a range. I also get the highest NRR I can find since I stink at addition.
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Old March 9, 2013, 03:55 PM   #50
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I never used hearing protection before unless I was at the range where I had to. Now after shooting my about 15 rounds through my .44 Mag, I'm trying to find me some good ones.
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