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Can a single gunshot damage your hearing?

Can a single gunshot damage your hearing?

We all know gunshots are loud, but how loud are they really? Can a single shot damage your hearing? And are earplugs enough to protect your ears? We will answer all of these questions and more in this blog post.

Understanding the Threat: How Loud Are Guns?

Before we can talk about how loud guns are, we need to add a little perspective. We measure sound intensity in decibels (dB). A whisper is around 30 dB, while a normal conversation is around 60 dB. On the higher end of the spectrum, power levels can exceed 100 dB and cheering crowds at a sports stadium can bounce between 100-115 dB. Anything above 85 can be dangerous for your ears with prolonged exposure, with the danger levels increasing as the decibel levels rise. 

Can shooting a gun damage your ears?

The short answer is yes, shooting a gun can damage your ears, and leave permanent hearing damage. Even though a single gunshot will only last a second, they range from 140 dB to 170 dB which greatly exceeds the safe limit of 85 dB. The exact dB of your firearm will vary, but even a quieter gun can cause hearing damage.

A single shot could result in tinnitus or hearing loss, and enough exposure could even cause permanent deafness.

How to regain hearing after shooting

Unfortunately, hearing loss caused by loud noises like gunshots is typically permanent. If the hair cells in your inner ear have been damaged, they cannot regenerate. We recommend looking for ways to improve communication, such as hearing aids and assistive devices.

What db hearing protection for shooting?

The level of hearing protection required depends on the calibre of firearms you’ll be using, and duration to the exposure. For low calibre firearms and occasional shooting, custom high-quality earplugs with a NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) of 25 dB or higher can be enough. If you get the chance, always opt for higher NRR earplugs if available.

For regular shooting or high-calibre firearms, we recommend a combination of earmuffs and custom high-quality earplugs with a NRR of 30 dB or higher. Once again, opt for higher if you can.

Are ear plugs good enough for shooting?

Yes, earplugs are great for shooting, as long as you choose the right ones. Custom high-quality shooting earplugs like our Pro Impulse earplugs are specially designed to protect your ears from gunshots, by reducing sudden high volume sounds from being transmitted to the inner ear, while allowing normal hearing at other times. Custom earplugs are moulded to your ear to allow maximum protection.

Despite being cheaper and easier to acquire, regular foam earplugs are singular use, do not provide as much protection and will block sounds at all times. For these reasons, we do not recommend using foam earplugs or other cheap alternatives.

In conclusion, gunshots will cause permanent damage, so always wear hearing protection. Prioritising your hearing is crucial, as it is impossible to regain your hearing once you’ve lost it. Earplugs can provide enough protection for casual shooting and low calibre weapons, but we recommend using a combination of earplugs and earmuffs if you use firearms regularly and they are high calibre.