Over the past few days some folks have been taking the defibrillator to the long gone IGOTD about FPSRussia. Much ado has been made about how you don’t need hearing protection when you’re outdoors because when you’re outside the sound doesn’t have walls to bounce against and therefore isn’t as harmful. In the interests of protecting our readers—all our readers—let’s be very clear about this . . .
You need to wear ear protection outdoors. While it’s true that enclosed spaces make the noise of gunfire worse, not being outdoors only makes it better in relative terms. In other words, gunfire outdoors can still make you go deaf. Quickly. Permanently.
Click here for an article from the National Institutes of Health called Don’t Let Gun Sports Backfire on You: Use Ear Protection and Hang Onto Your Hearing. The article highlights the experiences of one Dave Henderson, a writer and hunting expert who began shooting at 10. Outdoors. After taking an entrance physical for the military, Henderson discovered he was losing his hearing—at the ripe old age of 19
“When I walked out of the test booth, the tester said, ‘You’re a shooter. Typical pattern.'” Henderson’s hearing loss was primarily in the high-frequency range, with slight loss in the middle range. “I never used any hearing protection as a kid,” he admitted. “Nobody did . . .”
Also quoted: Dr. James Battey Jr., Director of the National Institute on Deafness and other Communicative Disorders. Dr. Battey states that “Loud noise, such as the 140-decibel blast of a rifle, can irreparably damage the specialized cells of the inner ear—called hair cells—that enable us to hear. So it is vitally important for us to protect our ears when we are repeatedly exposed to loud noise.”
A quick trip to Dangerous Decibels will tell you that any sound above 85 db can cause permanent hearing damage, dependent on exposure time. The permissible exposure time for loud noises is dramatically reduced for every 3 decibels you go above 85. The permissible time for 115 db is approximately 30 seconds.
By the time you reach around 130db, there is no permissible time limit. If you have reached that point then you will be doing damage to your hearing instantaneously.
The average 5.56/.223 round has a decibel rating of around 150; meaning that all 30 rounds you pump out of a magazine on your AR can and will do permanent damage to your hearing if you decide to shoot sans muffs.
Multiply that by all the other mags you shoot every time you hit the range and every range trip you’ve ever taken. What do you get? A hearing aid. Or worse.
We here at TTAG have long argued that silencers should be available for any gun in any state of the union without any governmental interference. And we know we can’t force you to wear hearing protection. But there’s no excuse not to. It’s part of being a responsible gun owner.
Do the research, get the facts and the next time you go out shooting do yourself a favor; wear ear protection. If you don’t, you will pay the price. As will FPSRussia.