Hunting can be a challenging and entertaining sport, but using a rifle can be potentially harmful for your hearing when the proper precautions aren’t taken. Learn more about how you can keep your ears protected!
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin found that men aged 48 to 92 who regularly participated in hunting were more likely to experience high-frequency hearing loss. This risk increased by seven percent for every five years that a man had been hunting.
Quite surprisingly, 95% of hunters and 38% of target shooters reported that they never wore hearing protection while shooting in the past year.
Hunting is a sport that comes with an inherent number of risks, including hearing loss. Steps you can take to protect your hearing include:
Use a Silencer
Using a gun suppressor, or a silencer, can reduce the amount of sound given off by the firearm. A silencer works by stabilizing the loud propellant gases normally given off when a shot is fired. Be sure to check state regulations regarding the legal status of silencers in your hunting range.
Take Long Breaks In Between Sessions
Be sure to take 15-minute breaks during hunting. The noise level involved with rifle shots can damage your ears if the exposure lasts over 15 minutes. The resulting ear damage can make it especially difficult to communicate with teammates during hunting sessions.
Alternate Between Different Rifles
Using a relatively low-volume rifle with a silencer on a regular basis will reduce the chances that you will suffer from hearing loss. A 7mm Magnum with a 20” barrel can make significantly less noise than a .375 Ruger with an 18” barrel and muzzle brake.
Be sure to shoot sparingly. In addition to scaring away game and wasting ammo, excessive shooting can expose you to repetitive noises that can damage the hair cells in your ears.
Always Use the Proper Ear Guard Protection
Make sure to use earmuffs when operating a rifle. Hunting earmuffs come in a variety of sizes for men, women and children. Be sure to choose the size that’s right for you, as picking a wrong size can cause ineffective shielding and unintended exposure to gunshot noise.
Alternate Shooting Arms
Asymmetric hearing loss can often occur when one ear is exposed more frequently to loud noise than the other. This is a common condition that not only affects hunters, but can also be found in people of all ages, regardless of their physical activities.
Asymmetric hearing loss can happen when hunters hold their rifles to one particular side of their body while hunting. One of the best methods for prevention is to alternate positions. Learning to alternate between your right and left hands can help to expose your ears to similar noise settings.
Rifles far exceed the noise level of most objects that you may encounter on a regular basis, even fireworks and jet engines. Taking the necessary precautions to guarantee safety will make your experience all the more enjoyable.