Serving the Hearing Healthcare Needs of the AK Valley Since 1958

What Is the Best Ear Protection for Shooting?

a pair of standard earplugs

Hearing aids are a fantastic way to enhance your hearing capabilities if you have started to experience hearing loss. For most situations, your hearing aids are vital for minimizing a significant shift in your lifestyle, enabling you to continue to live your life the same way. However, some situations may not be suitable for hearing aids. 

These are typically environments with excessive noise, including music concerts, construction sites, and shooting. The loud noise within such environments can severely damage your hearing, so it is vital you follow the proper guidelines to protect your hearing as much as possible

Dangers of loud noise

The audiologist community recommends that noises exceeding 85 decibels are unsafe for human ears and could permanently damage your hearing. It is essential to recognize what 85 decibels are equivalent to so you can protect yourself adequately if you are exposed to such high noise levels. 

For context, a regular conversation between friends and family over coffee or at the office will typically reach no higher than 60 decibels. This is not enough to cause any damage at all. Therefore, 60 decibels is considered a ‘safe’ noise level. 

For more dangerous noise levels, idling bulldozers will emit noise of 85 decibels. While this may not be dangerous if you are exposed for a few minutes, being close for the entire workday (around eight hours) could cause lasting damage. 

However, even this pales in comparison to the decibels when firing a gun, which can reach up to 190 decibels depending on the type of firearm you use. As this is twice as much as the dangerous noise level, you must wear hearing protection when shooting

Should you wear hearing aids while shooting?

Wearing hearing aids when shooting is not recommended by your audiologist. As hearing aids will enhance any sound in the area, you can risk severely damaging your hearing, and if the noise level is high enough, there’s a risk that you could damage the components. 

Likewise, you may also go shooting during extreme conditions. This can also cause problems for your hearing aids, and exposure to extreme weather, regardless of it being heat or moisture, can harm the device and even render it unusable. 

Despite these warnings, many hunters and people involved in shooting will still wear their hearing aids. They do this for several reasons. One is that they feel they need to wear their hearing aids no matter what. Others will continue to wear hearing aids because they want to hear the ambient noise of the forest of range, and also be able to hear anything approaching, rather than have something ’sneak up’ on them. 

What if you need to wear hearing aids at all times? 

Some people, however, will need to wear their hearing aid at all times. So, what can you do about this? While older hearing aid models did not come with a range of features, modern devices offer plenty of functions to enhance comfort and prevent any issues, even when shooting. 

One of the most effective of these features is noise cancellation. This feature causes the hearing aid to cancel out noise above a certain decibel, meaning you will be able to protect your ears while shooting. 
As you might expect, some issues can still arise from this. For example, you may not realize (or rather trust) that you have fired the shot. To overcome this issue, make sure to pay attention, which is what you should be doing regardless. 

The best way to protect your ears when shooting 

Due to the excessively loud nature of shooting firearms, you must ensure you wear sufficient hearing protection when shooting. Whether this is hunting or at a range, hearing protection will prevent severe hearing loss issues for you in the future. 

Over-the-ear protective gear defenders are the best way to protect your ears while shooting. This will suppress the noise to a safe level and eliminate the risk of damage. You can also double up on this protection with earplugs to give you more confidence. 

It is not recommended to wear hearing aids while shooting, but if you have no choice, you should still wear ear defenders to protect your hearing and use suppressive functions and volume control to reduce the noise level further. 

Get in touch today

To learn more about the potential issues from excessive noise or more information on the services Rametta Audiology & Hearing Aid Center offers, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our offices to arrange a chat appointment. For those around the Tarentum area, call (724) 224-6811. For anyone closer to Vandergrift, contact us on (724) 567-7381.