Previous Post
Next Post

As regular readers will note from our past coverage of FPS Russia’s unadorned antics, TTAG is pro-ear pro. We (the republican not the Royal version) can think of no reason not to protect your hearing while shooting, save those occasions where the bad guy’s impatience is obvious. Here’s how it shouldn’t be done: “Known as ‘the Queen of guns,’ [firearms tester] Huang Xueying estimates she has shot more than 3 million bullets during her 21 years of service for the military,” reports. “The constant exposure to such loud noises has damaged her hearing. But Huang said that only by hearing the shots can she precisely tell the quality of the gun and correct flight path of bullets.” Two words: active headphones. Clearly, China’s slave masters don’t give a flying-you-know-what about Mrs. Xueying’s health (or anyone else’s). Another horrific example . . .

To simulate firing the weapons in the dust raised by helicopters and tanks, Huang needed to shoot for hours in a sealed 10-square-meter cell in which an air blower continuously blasted dust particles as tiny as flour.

Huang, in a 20-kilogram rubber protection suit, could barely breath in the narrow room full of the smell of gunpowder. Several days after the test, there was still dust in her throat . . .

“After my son returned from a parents’ meeting, he asked why other mothers smell fragrant but I smell like gunpowder,” Huang said laughing.

Yet her happiest moment came on Oct 1, 2009, the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China, as soldiers in the parade held three new advanced automatic rifles, each tested by Huang and her colleagues.

In China, as elsewhere, the ends justify the means; individuals don’t have the right to protect themselves from harm at the hands of the state. Here’s hoping Huang doesn’t learn that freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. Meanwhile, ear pro people. And get the lead out. [h/t Bryan]

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. And yet, if you’re going to live under an authoritarian rule, you might as well rack up a higher round count than anybody else.

  2. I’ve often wondered about you stance on this. Isn’t ear protection less necessary out of doors? Wouldn’t some responsible people choose not to use it when shooting outside?

    • To be honest, I’ve often wondered about this myself. Depending on the activity, there has to be a break-even point somewhere, right? I mean, if you’re deer hunting, you might take one or two shots per day (or none if you’re unlucky). Is it worth spending the entire time wearing ear pro just to compensate for those one or two shots?

      • Yes as much as possible. Hearing loss starts at 85dB @ 8 hours with a 3 dB interchange (88@4hrs, 91@2, 94@1, etc). A gunshot is around 140dB. At this level permanent hearing damage will happen in less than 1/8 of a second.

        The difference between indoors and outdoors is the decay of the reflections (echos). The sound of a gunshot will stay louder longer as the sound bounces off the wall. The decay is still very quick, but it is still there. Being outside there is no echo from walls and the “bang” sound level drops 3 db for every doubling of distance.

        When hunting (and it will happen in self defense also), the shooter will get tunnel vision. This is where mentally the shooter is focus on one thing and the brain “ignores” other sensory stimuli. This does not mean that you will not hear the gunshot or prevent you from hearing damage. The ear is very delicate and will still be damaged. I advise to take a good pair of active ear muffs deer hunting. Not only will they protect your ears, but they can also help you ear rustling of the leaves.

        Hearing loss is a very gradual slope, and it never goes up hill. Many people don’t notice hearing loss as it starts off in the high end frequencies and comes down. A normal hearing range is from 20Hz-20kHz. Adults that have good hearing are closer to 20Hz-16kHz. Hearing loss starts to be pronounced when you get down to 12kHz. Voices will start to sound muffled, and certain sounds won’t sound “natural.”

        Hearing science has come a long way, and research is being down to help regain hearing loss, but it is still many years away.

        The best thing is prevention. Wear hearing protection whenever you can.

        • So for those of us who wing hunt, specifically duck, how well do the ear pros actually work? Where most of the time you must be able to hear the faintest wing beat, or a muffled call against the wind. Also, sound on open water carries farther so would this in effect, affect the usefulness of the ear pro?

        • With active hearing protection, you can hear BETTER than normal, as you can amplify sounds and hear stuff too faint for the human ear to normally hear. You become superhuman.

        • A gunshot is around 140dB. At this level permanent hearing damage will happen in less than 1/8 of a second.

          Yes, however one thing to keep in mind is that the 140-160db of things going boom is generally measured at the origin point. As is specific to rifle fire, you’re not at the origin point, but some feet behind it, and the sound pressure produced is highly directional.

          This is why someone firing a pistol right beside your ear will certainly result in acoustic trauma and permanent loss of some or all of your hearing in the ear in question. However, repeated rifle shots in open space will generally not. Over time, if you do it a lot (like anything), sure. Once or twice a hunting season, generally not.

          I don’t wear ears while hunting, and the handful of rounds per season I’ve been exposed to has not caused any hearing loss. (Tested annually)

          Your mileage may vary.

    • That’s the beauty of it. As much as we would like people to take the route of wearing hearing protection, it should never be forced upon someone. While it is less necessary to use outdoors, that ringing and sometimes pain from shooting without hearing protection isn’t a good thing. Some people are more responsible than others, but that is their choice.

    • Keep in mind that sound is just a pressure wave that dissipates as a function of the square of the distance from the source. Not having the secondary waves contained by the walls of an indoor range may help somewhat, but I suspect that most of the damage is from the primary source-i.e. the muzzle and/or action blast that is invariably less than 2′ from at least one of your ears.

    • Absolutely Michael. Especially if you’re using any variety of muzzle brake, a firearm used indoors will absolutely screw your hearing. Out of doors it is less necessary but still important. I have permanent hearing loss from one range day in 2007 (in addition to other shots and explosions I have had the misfortune to be in the proximity of since then) when I was conducting CQB training. Of course some rounds are worse than others; a .45 ACP shot indoors will damage your hearing far less than 5.56×45 or 7.62×51 rifle rounds. As a rule though, always use it to preserve your hearing, inside or out.

      If you’re ever in Texas Michael, I would gladly take you to the range for a day.

    • I fired my 5.56 rifle in training (What kind of training, son? ARRRMY Training Sir!) without hearing protection at an outdoor range. No permanent damage, but very unpleasant. It would have to be worse over time.

      Larger calibers – fugeddabouddit.

    • The fact that you asked that question says a lot about your experience with firearms, and thus why everything about them is so dark and scary to you. Guns are still loud outside, but louder inside.

    • This from the guy who thinks allowing a law abiding person access to their own gun in their own home is a safety hazard. Do you enjoy pouring out so much hypocrisy into the tubes?

      • I may strongly disagree with many of his opinions, but I don’t see how insulting people helps anything.

    • When I was 15 or 16(45 years ago), at a deer hunting camp I was offered the chance to shoot a 44 mag. Ruger handgun. I fired it one time without hearing protection and was instantly deaf for about 5 minutes. My ears rang for about a week. From that day forward, I wore hearing protection, even when hunting. I still have hearing loss and a continuous ringing in my ears that I attribute to that one incident. Maybe. Maybe not. Especially with the newer electronic protection available, there’s no real reason not to wear ear protection when shooting.

      • Exact same thing happened to me shooting a .41 mag. I probably shot it 5-6 times, deaf for a while then a low-level buzz for 1-2 weeks.

  3. Outdoors it can still be loud enough to damage hearing. It partially depends on what you’re firing, but as a general rule, yes you can still damage hearing.

    That’s why silencers are so great. They dampen the sound to hearing safe levels, not that hollywood style “thwip”

    Due to a bad infection I have what may be a pernminant ringing in my ears and some loss on certain frequencies, take it from me, it’s MADDENIG at times. As someone who always protected their hearing, it. totally sucks. I can’t imagine willingly participating in your own hearing loss.

  4. Last year I once packed my car with a pack of Shoot N c targets,200 rounds of ammo,and a Taco Bell meal for lunch.Some of you know where this is going,but for those who don’t on that day I drove 45 minutes,set up targets,ate my Chalupa,and went to go get my cans….which I left at home,45 minutes and 2000 feet away as the range was on an elevated mountain.

    Well,gas ain’t cheap fellas-but neither is your hearing.I stuck a couple of wads of paper in my ears,and for a time I thought it worked….until I fired up the car for the trip home and music sounded very off-timbre.Same music I heard on the drive up,but it sounded off note.

    Now,no hearing protection,no shoot.

    • “Last year I once packed my car with a pack of Shoot N c targets,200 rounds of ammo,and a Taco Bell meal for lunch.Some of you know where this is going[…]”

      I thought I knew where it was going. I was very disappointed when there was no indication of the effects of explosive diarrhea on your hearing.

  5. I have permanent ringing in both ears (tinnitus) and some hearing loss. I wear top quality muffs now when shooting, operating loud stuff like chain saws and wood chippers, when using power tools like a router, or circular saw, and even when sitting on my lawn tractor. Some times I wear plugs AND muffs if I am shooting .44 mag or anything else that is louder than usual. Both my father and grandfather ended up wearing hearing aides in both ears with marginal success. My hearing loss is definitely inherited, maybe genetically or maybe because they were stupid just like me when young and didn’t protect their hearing until it was too late. My hearing will never get better, so all I can do is protect what I have left.

  6. I love these noise amplifying/canceling muffs;–2. They are $50 on amazon, so don’t get ripped off by the $100 price tag at your local gun shop. They have an adjustment knob which amplifies sounds. I can hear better and farther away with them on than off. They also shut off within a few miliseconds evertime a sound over 82db is recognized. Any sustained 85db or greater noise is considerted bad for your ears. So when the larger than 82db sound is hear the noise amplifiying shuts off for a moment and during that timefram you have the 22 NRR (noise reduction rating) protecting your ears.

    • Last time I was at the range my friend was having a conversation with the range officer 5+ft behind me while I was up to shoot. I heard their entire conversation and joined in on it after finishing my mag.

  7. Two days ago, I went to a friends lake house and we set up some targets. Low ad behold, I forgot ear pro. Shooting my Ruger 10/22 was no problem whatsoever. When we got out the SIG Pro in 9mm, thats when the pain started. I only unloaded 2 magazines (30 rounds total), but it was still enough to leave a ringing in my ears and decrease my ability to hear significantly for about an hour.

    Lesson learned. Anything over .22 and the muffs are a must.

  8. The best quote:
    “But Huang said that only by hearing the shots can she precisely tell the quality of the gun and correct flight path of bullets.”

    So I guess her eyes are more jacked up than her hearing at this point? She is going to have a sad life in retirement!

  9. It’s her decision to stay in the military for twenty one years in the job testing bullets the same way without hearing protection. Authoritarian governments are evil and being a long-term low-level lackey or sheeple for them puts that person in the same category.

  10. I have some significant tinnitus and hearing loss, but from playing in bands when I was younger, not from shooting. My ears constantly ring, which is really noticable in quiet rooms, and I have trouble understanding conversation at times. Since I don’t want this to get any worse, I always double up on hearing protection at the range. Ironically, this is one of the times in which I hear my tinnitus most clearly, because it isolates me from other sounds which tend to mask it. It’s a good reminder, I guess.

  11. If you absolutely, positively must shoot without hearing protection, shoot with an open mouth. It helps to equalize pressure on both sides of your eardrums. You’ll still lose hearing eventually, but you won’t blow out your eardrums with one shot, so you’ll go deaf slower.

    • I recall seeing pics of soldiers firing 155mm howitzer rounds with their hands over their ears and mouths wide open.

      • Yup. Open mouth = equal pressure. Closed mouth = blown eardrums. But you have to do it right. The mouth must be open and the throat, too. If your tongue/epiglottis closes off your throat, pressure will not be equal and you can kiss your eardrums bye-bye. Which is anatomically impossible, but you get my drift.

  12. This story reminds me of the equally sad case of Yao Ming, the Chinese basketball player who was treated as a piece of propaganda equipment by the communist government. Playing basketball in the NBA and playing for the national team in the offseason. He was an incredibly gifted big man forced to retire way too early just because his government couldn’t give a rats a** about individual human rights.

  13. Something kinda hot about her, in a leather and whips sort way! I’d let her examine, and test fire my artillery piece, hey why not.

Comments are closed.