The loudness of gunshots is immense. Although it depends largely on the type of gun and equipment used with it, the loudness reaches something between 140 to as high as 165 decibels depending on various factors as glimpsed earlier. For comparison, the sound produced by a jet engine during takeoff is around 130 decibels. Even a whisper is about 20 decibels, while busy traffic is approximately 80 decibels. The sound while a rocket is launching is around 180 decibels. One thing to keep in mind is that for safe hearing, a maximum of 85 decibels can be reached, and as per science, anything across the limit is potentially harmful to the ears. That explains why the sound produced by firearms is dangerous for our ears. Long story short, we need to take preventive measures while shooting a gun and hearing protection should always be part of firearm safety. There are around 466 million people around the world with hearing loss, and people who regularly use firearms without adequate protection are at risk of experiencing hearing loss, adding on to the already huge number.
Understanding the decibel range of firearms
In general, a decibel is used to measure the level of intensity of an incoming sound. However, be clear that intensity never means loudness. They are two different terms that are often misused. In general, you can say that for every 3 decibels, the sound is twice as loud as the previous one. However, as discussed earlier, it depends on the type of weapon used, and not all firearms produce the same level of noise. For comparison, a .22 caliber rifle produces a noise level of approximately 145 decibels. On the other hand, a 44 revolver will produce a noise level of about 170 decibels. And that level is quite large for your sensitive ear cells and goes in like shockwaves to them when equipment is not used properly.
Why Do You Need Hearing Protection With Firearms?
As said earlier, for safe hearing, a maximum of 85 decibels can be reached, and sounds at 140 decibels or louder can cause damage to the ears. It may cause pain and ringing in the ears in the short term. However, they can also cause permanent hearing loss and damage in the long term if not taken proper care.
It is now clear to see why hearing protection is important when using firearms. We will now discuss the types of hearing protection that you can use to safeguard your ears.
Types of Hearing Protection
In general, there are two different types of hearing protection that you can use for hearing safety. The first one is known as earplugs and the second one earmuffs. If a comparison is drawn, we will say that earplugs are generally better than earmuffs at reducing sound when bought of the same quality. However, they both reduce between 15 to 32 decibels of noise. We will recommend you to go shooting wearing a combination of protection, such as plugs and muffs that would increase the NRR rating and the overall level of protection for your ears. Noise reduction rating (NRR) is a rating method used in the United States to evaluate hearing protection, and is the number of decibels sound will be reduced by when worn.
Protecting Your Ears While Hunting
In hunting, it is important to hear the animals or other noises in the environment but not more important than saving your ears. There are types of hearing protection on the market that allow hunters to hear soft noises while protecting them from louder sounds, for example, nonlinear and electronic earmuffs.
Shooting is fun, but at the same time, it is deteriorating for your ears too. It is better to play it safe and go shooting while wearing some sort of hearing protection device.