How important is hearing protection when shooting a shotgun?
In the fieldsports world, one thing I see being overlooked time and time again is hearing protection. Shooting competitively at University I went to plenty of competitions and winced at the people playing hard and fast with their hearing protection. Some said oh they’re in my pocket/car/home but ill get them next time. Unfortunately, every time you stand near or shoot a shotgun you’ll need to be wearing hearing protection to avoid damage. The damage caused will be long lasting and irreparable.
Why do you need hearing protection?
The noise produced by a shotgun isn’t particularly long but is incredibly loud. A single shotgun shell gives of C. 155 decibels which means nothing when you compare it to the sound of an F1 car gives of 134 decibels at full chat. If you’ve ever heard an F1 car pass its enough to make you want to put your fingers in your ears. But a shotgun sound resonates so close to the ear and creates an even louder sound. The most pertinent issue is your hearing will not repair and will only get worse. While the ear can stand up to the occasional mistake with hearing protection its essential if you want to keep shooting through your life. I’m sure we all know an old boy who has shot every inch of the country and doesn’t wear any protection. What’s next is that you’ll realize that asking any question has to be done with a raised voice and regular repetition of the question. Once the ear has been damaged, sounds will be dulled and this gets worse as time goes on.
How can we protect our hearing?
Hearing protection is available in every gunshop in many formats. Digital, passive, over the ear, in the ear there are plenty of options if you are particularly fussy. My preference is digital over ears, while they’re chunky they damper the vibrations that also contribute to hearing loss. The foamy in ear buds are where most people start with at their first lesson. While they do offer up good protection but are liable to falling and not a long term solution. For anyone serious about shooting I’d strongly recommend investing in some digital alternatives. The ability to hear your surrounding and then have the noise cut out in the instant that there’s a shot is nicer than dulled sound the whole time. It’s also important to wear hearing protection not just only when you’re shooting but also stood near anyone shooting.
What Hearing protection should you pick?
This is completely personal but pick whatever’s comfortable to you as you’re more likely to wear them. Over ear protection has the benefit of dampening the vibrations that come off the stock that can damage the small bones in the ears. They are quite cumbersome and can potentially interfere with your mount. If this is the case then you might want to pick an in ear alternative. While they don’t dampen the vibrations they do eliminate the high volume high pressure sound. If they are fitted to your ear they create an excellent seal which is key with all hearing protection. Being low profile the Cens Digital are lightweight at 52 grams compared to 330 grams of the Peltor SportTacs. There is no right answer here as it boils down to preference. I started with big over ear headphones and haven’t felt the need to upgrade or change. However, if mine needed replacing id certainly look towards tome in ears for the low profile appeal.