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Normally, my local range can get me a lane in less than five minutes. There are two nights where this isn’t the case. Monday is ladies night and every other Wednesday brings the Sure Shots pistol league. I’m sure there’s a joke buried somewhere about women and having to wait around, but I’ll leave it up to you guys (and gals) to find it. Cut to Wednesday last week . . .

I messed up the alternating week thing and falsely assumed that the Sure Shots would be at the south location, and I could shoot in peace and relative quiet. It turns out that about 40 women had a different idea. So I spent a good chunk of my evening perusing guns and gear while I waited for a lane to open.

Normally, I’d find another night, but I needed to check the zero on my .243 for a potential shot at an antelope and I wanted to shoot at least 100 rounds through my 1911 in anticipation of my CHL test.

With close to twenty lanes occupied and everybody blasting, the waiting area and gun store was loud to say the least. But how loud? Enter a quick purchase from the iTunes store, Decibel that I have used for about a year and thoroughly enjoy. Keep in mind that the iPhone4 mic maxes at 105 dB. I did 5 data collections over 5 minutes at 15 seconds per collection to see just how loud it really was.

   Run           Avg               Max

       1              84                  100

      2              85                 105

     3               79                 105

     4               78                 103

     5               88                 105

As you can see, I had three data runs that pegged the capabilities of the iPhone mic, and my average sound level was 82.8 dB. The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders says that “long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dB can cause hearing loss.”

Now, they don’t define how long or how repeated that exposure needs to be to start damaging the very fragile hair cells inside your ear. So while 82.8 dB doesn’t cross that threshold, I would still be worried about the long-term health of the employees and frequent customers.

So what does this mean for you? Keep your head (and ears) on a swivel. Just like dehydration and thirst, if you are in pain, it is already too late. Keep a set of earplugs or Mickey Mouse ears handy. If you have a smartphone, download any number of free/cheap apps to do sound testing. Check your environment if you feel like it might be too loud.

You only have five senses. If you can touch, smell, or taste someone, they are already too close for comfort. Your defensive perimeter can be best maintained by your eyes and ears. Do the needful to keep those ears working in tip top shape.

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  1. Off topic, but unless the shooting portion of your CHL test is way more extensive (i.e., better) than NC’s, 100 rounds of shooting sounds more like fun than preparation. The day before my test, I went through one magazine just to make sure my gun wasn’t broken! (Entire comment highly sarcastic)

  2. Yeah- trust me, you are not going to have any trouble with the shooting portion of the course. In fact, if it’s anything like my experience, you’re gonna feel guilty about wasting expensive ammo on something so simplistic!

  3. Annie Oakley, all 5’1″ of her, performed under the moniker of “Little Miss Sure Shot.” I’m sure that the league’s “Sure Shots” name is an homage to her. It’s a perfect name for a ladies league.

  4. Thanks for posting this.I remember hearing protection being a problem on a range trip I organized with several military friends .I had my own ‘ears’ and sets of spare foam earplugs but noooo,two of my pals believed they were too macho to wear hearing protection.The guns out for use that day were a 30-06 rifle,two 12 gauge shotguns,and three pistols,so Mr. Macho and his companion Miss Macho were deaf for the better part of a week afterward.

  5. I forgot to put my ears back in when we started a qualification range once. I fired two rounds from my -16, then stopped and put them in. I’d rather miss a few popup targets than give myself permanent hearing damage. The worst case scenario is that I get to fire ANOTHER 40 rounds on the government’s dime (thank you, taxpayers) if I bolo.

    • I atucally have this exact same problem. I CAN hear, but my brain does not process the background noise or filter it out properly. My audiologist atucally did recommend that I get hearing aid. The normal $200 hearing aids don’t filter out background noise, but the fancy $3000 dollar hearing aids are like crazy small computers and they atucally sense the background noise levels and adjust for it. I’ve had pretty good luck with it. It doesn’t completely solve the problem, but I can atucally converse at a restaurant or watch a movie now which I could not do before at all. It’s very expensive, but it made a major difference in my life. Our insurance only covered $200 of it so it was basically all out of pocket, but for me it was worth it. You might want to talk to your adudiologist about it. If you are interested, I can get you the info on the hearing aid I use so that you could check it out. They have a very good website.Natalie

  6. When I was younger I played sax in jazz and R&B bands. My reward is a constant ringing in the ears. So when I took up shooting, I knew I didn’t want to make it any worse, so I always double up with ear plugs and ear muffs when I’m at the range.

  7. It isn’t just average noise, it’s also peak that damages your hearing. And the peak on guns is often closer to 160 than 105dB. Heck, Surefire advertises that their suppressors reduce the peak to “only” 133 dB. I have no ringing, but the doctor told me after a hearing test years go: “You should protect what is left of your hearing.” So I wear earplugs at concerts and plugs and muffs on the range.

  8. Any thoughts on electronic vs. passive protection? Currently, I double up with foam inserts and over the ear muffs. I’ve already got tinnitus (for many years before I was a shooter). Is there a particular model (electronic or not) of ear protective gear that is considered, far and above, the best? Thanks!

    • For myself, I’m looking for a pair of muffs that have an NRR of 30. Even with plugs I can get a ringing with my pistola… not good.

    • Higher NRR is better. The Pro Ears Gold models are expensive but very good – the only electronic ‘ears’ I’ve found with NRR 34. The ear cups are big and not friendly to long gun shooting though. They make a 26 NRR version with ear cups that work with long gun stocks better.


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