It’s not always feasible or even legal to use a silencer. Each state has different rules about owning silencers, but if you can have one, a silencer can be one part of an effective ear-protection strategy for the gun owner.
A silencer won’t be enough all by itself, and some guns aren’t compatible with silencers anyway, but it’s a good first step. Hearing loss is cumulative, so every quieter shot is one less trauma for your ears.
Always use ear protection
Photo by Kyle Smith at UnSplash
Ear protection for shooting ranges from muffs that cover the whole ear to simple, cheap earplugs, to custom-molded plugs that fit your ear perfectly. The louder your gun and the more often you shoot, the more robust your ear protection should be.
Major manufacturers and distributors of accessories like Caldwell Shooting often provide tools like steel targets for sale as well as other quality gun and hunting accessories, including an array of ear protection options to choose from. It may take a bit of trial and error to find the right solution for your shooting situation, but it’s well worth it to protect your hearing.
Switch it up
Don’t always shoot from the same arm. Give the ear on one side a break by going over the other side. Asymmetric hearing loss is common in hunters, but you can avoid it by shooting from your non-dominant side regularly.
There’s another benefit to switching up your shooting side. If you practice using your non-dominant hand and eye, you’ll be able to keep both eyes open no matter which side you shoot from, making you that much more accurate. That gives you access to all your peripheral vision, which could be key in a defensive or hunting situation.
Even more importantly, with regular check-ups, you’ll know whether your other hearing protection measures are working. You might have to try different hearing protection aides until you find the best one, but it will be worth it to avoid permanent hearing loss.
Change up the gun
You need to practice with all your weapons to remain accurate with each, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all the same way. If you just need to blow off some steam at the range, prioritize your smaller caliber weapons to preserve your hearing.
Some guns can even shoot more than one type of ammo. If that’s true of yours, use the smaller caliber for practice and on the range as much as possible.
Know the signs
Be on the lookout for any signs of hearing loss so you can see an audiologist right away. Anything over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss, so even your smallest weapons could be damaging your hearing.
If you notice that sounds seem muffled, if you have trouble distinguishing words in a conversation, or if you’re having trouble telling where sound is coming from, get your hearing checked out immediately.
Take up the bow
Bow hunting is every bit as thrilling as hunting with a rifle; and far quieter. While there’s no need to give up your explosive weapons entirely, you can spare your ears and give yourself a real challenge by learning to hunt with a bow.
There are plenty of benefits to bow hunting. It’s more economical than rifle hunting. It makes your stronger, helps you develop balance and coordination, and doesn’t scare off every game animal for a mile if you happen to miss a shot.