When hunting season rolls around each year, hunting enthusiasts across the country make last minute preparations to ensure they have everything they need; hunting licenses, the proper firearm, a place to hunt, special clothing for enduring the elements and hiding from the prey. The list goes on and on, but often doesn’t contain hearing protection as a required piece of equipment. Just one gunshot without adequate hearing protection can cause permanent hearing damage. Hearing protection needs be at the top of the list, not down at the bottom or forgotten altogether.
Who needs hearing protection?
First, let’s be clear. We’re not just talking about hunters here – EVERYONE who handles a firearm needs hearing protection. That includes someone heading out to the backyard for target practice, the weekend skeet shooter practicing at the local gun club, and the deer hunter who’s only going to shoot if he sees the perfect buck. Hearing protection is needed! Whether you’re going to be exposed to one gunshot or many. The type of activity you’re going to do will dictate which type of protection would be best.
Types of hearing protection for hunters and shooters
Hearing technology is constantly changing, providing more sophisticated ways to protect our ears and their ability to hear. This means more choices and less excuses for not wearing any hearing protection at all. Here are a few of the most common options currently available:
- Foam ear plugs – this option has probably been around the longest and is the most budget-friendly. If you’re looking for simple, inexpensive ways to protect your hearing from loud noises, this might be your first choice. Although, these don’t offer nearly as much protection as some of the other options listed below.
- Custom molded plugs – these can be made of many different types of material. They are comfortable to wear, and offer a little more protection than the one-size-fits-all foam ear plugs.
- Earmuffs – these completely cover the outside of the ear and help to dull or completely cancel out loud noises. Since they typically do not have to hear quieter noises at the same time, most target shooters can function quite well with this type of device.
- Digital hearing protection – this is by far the most preferred method of hearing protection for hunters. This unique technology allows hunters to hear the quiet sounds of the environment around them; the whisper of a companion hunter or the gobbling of a turkey, while simultaneously suppressing a loud gunshot. This is especially helpful in situations where the frequency and location of gunshots cannot be easily predicted, such as when multiple sportsmen are hunting together.
Since there are many options available, and individual needs vary, it’s often helpful to enlist the aid of an audiologist to determine the hearing protection that’s best for you. We’d love to help you protect your hearing so you can enjoy your sport for many years to come!
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