Reasons to Use Ear Protection when Shooting a Firearm



Wearing hearing protection when using firearms is always the best habit to form. Regular use of firearms without protection may cause hearing loss that mainly interferes with high-frequency sounds such as “s,” “f,” or “h.” Appropriate use of firearms offers safety, recreation, and livelihood. This article discusses why you should use hearing protection when shooting a firearm.


Hearing Loss FAQ

Gunfire is Dangerous to Unprotected Ears

So, why should you use ear protection when shooting a firearm? Gunfire is highly dangerous for unprotected ears, as it impacts noise. Impact noise is more assaultive to the ear as opposed to constant noise and always causes ear problems.

Decibel Levels of Gunfire

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), noises of 85 decibels and above cause hearing damage. Higher-caliber guns make a louder noise than smaller-caliber guns. However, any gunshot can be harmful if shot next to unprotected ears.

Are Your Ears Ringing from a Gunshot?

Ear ringing can occur from a gunshot because the concussive energy released rattles small bones in the inner ear, the eardrum, and the cochlea. The cochlea is an ear organ with a snail shape filled with fluid and thousands of small hair-like structures, which change sounds from the external world into electrical impulses for the brain to understand.

Your ear feels blocked up, and you cannot hear as properly as before after shooting a gun with unprotected ears. This hearing challenge is called a temporary threshold shift. The more your ears are exposed to noises that cause temporary threshold shifts, the more likely this condition becomes permanent.

How Long Does Shooters Ear Last?

Shooter’s ear is a condition where one of the ears experiences worse hearing loss than the other. This condition is common among people who are often involved with firearms, including members of defense forces. Avoiding this condition is a major reason you should use ear protection when shooting a firearm. The length and severity of “shooter’s ear,” resulting from the loud blast of gunshots, vary widely from brief, momentary discomfort to irreversible hearing loss, influenced by factors such as the loudness of the shot, exposure time, the specific firearm used, whether ear protection was worn, and personal vulnerability to noise-induced hearing damage.


Choose the Right Protection Gear for Shooting Sports

There is protective gear for every sport, including shooting sport. Shooting sports protection gear depends on the shooting environment. Here are tips to help you choose the right protective equipment for shooting sports:

Range Shooting

Gunfire occurs continuously and rapidly, especially if you do it as a sport. When it is done indoors, gunshot sound is more concentrated, and you need to wear a pair of earmuffs covering the foam earplugs for the most effective protection against hearing conditions and loss. You can acquire specialty earmuffs online or from a local sporting gear store near you. In addition, foam earplugs are available at affordable prices in drugstores. Consider buying those that fit because smaller or bigger ones are uncomfortable, and you may feel the urge to take them off.

Competitive Skeet and Target Shooting

In an outdoor setting, shooting involves consistently searching for targets, making it hard for shooters to wear earmuffs. If you are a skeet shooter, you should get custom molded earplugs that block all shooting sound completely to keep your ears safe. You can get a pair of custom-molded earplugs from a professional audiologist.


Even when hunting outdoors, it is important to hear what is happening around you. You should therefore avoid wearing ear protection that completely blocks all sound. Instead, when hunting, you should wear specialized digital hearing protection that muffles gunfire when pulling the trigger. Some types of this hearing protection, including the “hunting hearing aids,” have triggered noise suppression and increased sounds to improve hearing across all frequencies. You can purchase the specialized digital hearing protection at a sporting goods shop or online.

Custom Ear Protection & Audiology Services in Laredo, TX

Shooting is used for security, fun, or hunting. So why should you use ear protection when shooting a firearm? It would help if you used hearing protection to avoid ear challenges such as the shooter’s ear and ringing in ears after shooting. Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center offers Laredo’s best ear protection and audiology services. Contact our professionals to start your ear protection journey.

Image Source: LightField Studios / New Africa / Shutterstock


Schedule a Hearing Evaluation Appointment
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Masks encouraged for patients.