Are you an avid hunter? Enjoy the quiet solitude of a forest? Nothing but you, the breeze, and the thrill of the chase? It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the peacefulness of the great outdoors that you forget that hunting actually puts a person at a very high risk for extreme hearing damage. That’s right. A single gunshot, rated at 140dB, can cause permanent hearing loss, according to government guidelines. Lower rates, sustained for even 15 minutes in total, can cause devastating long-term impairment. Even if you’re only taking a few shots per day, the cumulative damage can start to take a real toll on your hearing health.

‘Shooter’s Ear’ is seen everyday by hearing professionals. So what can you do to safeguard yourself? Ear plugs are certainly the cheapest option (running $10-$15 per pair), but without proper usage, are only about 50% as effective, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration research. The best investment for a serious hunting enthusiast? An amplified muff. These electronic hearing devices allow a shooter to make normal conversation normally while instantly suppressing the sharp noise of a gunshot. Though not billed as a hearing aid, amplified muffs do use similar technology. These electronic hearing protection devices come in a few discrete models – allowing you to concentrate on the hunt, instead of managing your hearing loss.

In The Canal

Ready to use out of the box, these tiny devices come with different sized soft-rubber covers that act like a regular ear plug, running you only $400.

Custom Models

Custom models are fitted by hearing-aid dealers, who make an impression of your ear canal for a perfect and comfortable fit. These larger devices also have more features and volume adjustments, enhancing your hearing with high-definition sound reproduction that’s especially useful when hunting from a stand. These aids are a bit more expensive – with the going rate of about $1200.

Most importantly, Audicus wants to remind you that your hearing aids do not offer you the kind of protection you need when dealing with explosively loud sounds. Most hearing aids are not a complete seal of the ear canal, thereby protecting your ears from loud external sounds. Instead, they have vents that allow you to hear outside sound to prevent you from feeling plugged up.

So whether you’re trapshooting at the range, or hunting water-fowl at the ranch, protect your hearing with plugs or electronic protection devices to minimize your risk of permanent damage. Keep your ears safe and happy. Here’s to a successful hunt!

By: Ariana Seigel