Hunting and Hearing Protection: Starting Early

Posted on January 9, 2013

AdventureDad.org viewer John O’Connor writes in on the importance of using hearing protection when hunting and shooting.

Begin Hearing Protection at an Early Age

Hunting has been a popular pastime for many years in the United States.  From the early ages when hunting was used mainly as a source of food to now although still used for food, hunting as a popular hobby and sport for families to engage in together as well.  Regardless of your reasoning for hunting, it is vital that while out in the field or at the range you and your family are equipped with proper hearing protection at all times.

As a child I remember helping my father gather together all of his gear the night before a hunt.  We would sort everything out, make sure he had it all, and pack it into his truck.  I would always ask him a ton of questions, about the guns he used, the animals he would be hunting for and which of his friends would be accompanying him this trip.  We would discuss stuff like this for hours, but as I look back to our times spent together talking about hunting I rarely remember having any conversations about the importance of wearing hearing protection while hunting.  From the first time my father shot a gun to the last time I helped him pack up his truck I never saw him with hearing protection.

 

As an avid hunter my father spent much of his free time either out in the woods or at home teaching me the ropes of hunting so one day I would be able to go out on my own and eventually teach my kids the ins and outs of the great outdoors.  Although a very experienced marksman my father often times when out in the field did not pay much attention to his hearing protection.  Even though he knew what a blast from a firearm could do to a person’s hearing he would often argue that he could not feel any signs of hearing loss so why should he have to protect against something he doesn’t even have.  Little did he know that every time he fired his gun without protection on he was further damaging his hearing levels.  Even though my father never wore hearing protection he always made sure that myself and the rest of my family had a pair of earmuffs on at all times.  He did not follow these guidelines in regards to hearing protection but he wanted to make sure his children were properly educated on this issue to ensure that we were always protected and to make sure that as we grew older and continued on with the family tradition of hunting that we were teaching our children the right thing to do as well.

 

My father is now in his late 70’s and is severely affected by hearing loss.  Although hunting is not the only cause of his decreased levels of hearing his doctor has said that it did play a major role in damaging his eardrums.  My father wears hearing aids in order to amplify the sounds around him so he is able to hear well.  Looking back on his hunting days, although he is sometimes upset that he chose to not wear hearing protection he is glad that he always made sure his children were protected at all times and that he instilled the proper hunting guidelines so that we could continue on teaching others the proper ways to hunt in the future.

 

Many people today realize what hunting can do to a person’s hearing but still choose not to protect themselves.  Researchers have found that being exposed to sounds over 80 dB for long periods of time can cause permanent hearing damage.  A shotgun can produce sounds upwards of 140 dB; almost double the advised level of noises that a person can be exposed to unprotected.  Although hearing loss can happen gradually over time, exposure to sounds at 140 dB just once can cause hearing damage.  That is why it is important for everyone, adults and children to always be protected when around guns.  It does not matter if you are shooting in the woods, practicing at the range or watching someone shoot, everyone must be protected at all times.

 

Just like anything else it is important to start things at a young age.  That is why it is important to have your children wear hearing protection when they are young so they feel comfortable doing so and so they can learn the reasoning behind why they should always be protected when around gunfire.  Even though my father did not wear hearing protection, it is important as adults for us to lead by example in regards to wearing hearing protection.

 

In order to ensure safety for all when hunting there are a few different options that you can choose from when looking into hearing protection.  The first line of hearing protection that people often look towards is a pair of earplugs.  Earplugs although they protect against hearing loss are not always the most effective form of hearing protection that should be worn when hunting.  In order to ensure maximum safety when out in the field the best option to look at would be electronic earmuffs.  Often a complaint by hunters is that when they wear hearing protection they are not able to hear other hunters in their group or game that may be approaching in the area.  Electronic earmuffs allow hunters to hear noises that are under 80 dB while blocking out any sounds that exceed this level.  This enables hunters to hear game and others while providing maximum protection at all times.

 

Whether you are just starting to hunt, teaching your children to hunt or have been hunting for years it is still extremely important to make sure everyone involved is fully protected at all times.  Hearing loss is not geared to one age group; children and adults can both be affected equally especially when around gunfire.  To ensure healthy hearing healthy for you and your children in the future take the proper precautionary steps in protecting your hearing today!

 

Hi my name is John O’Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss.  My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss.  I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can.  Check out my new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com!

Posted in Tips and Gadgets

One Response to Hunting and Hearing Protection: Starting Early

  1. Adventurer says: January 18, 2013

    Craig,

    I just read this blog post on hunting and hearing protection and I wanted to help you out with a couple of minor items for technical clarity/correctness.

    The damage factors for SPL do not follow simple math, so the comment that 140 dB is almost twice the recommended maximum, is not actually very accurate as it pertains to hearing loss. The 85 dB is a time weighted average calculation, based on an 8 hour/day exposure criteria. Gunshots are shorter in duration at much higher levels. There is not a clear relationship between the time weighted average figures for steady state noise and instantaneous impulses of gunshot noise. There is evidence that exposures to levels of 160 dB and above with gunshots can cause instantaneous damage.

    There is a new test methodology which quantifies the amount of attenuation that hearing protectors provide in impulsive noise, and Westone have tested our products that are designed for hunting and shooting according to this new standard.

    Meanwhile, you can check out our products at http://www.westone.com/defendear

    -Scott

    Scott Lake – MSE, COHC
    Manager – DefendEar Engineering and Technical Sales
    Westone Laboratories, Inc.

Leave a Reply