Living in New York means that one of your favorite pastimes might be hunting and shooting, but did you know that repeated exposure to gunfire can negatively impact your hearing, even at a young age? Hearing loss in hunters is a relatively common condition, and it does not discriminate. The noise from a gunshot can cause damage and even long term hearing damage in both young and old people. Unfortunately, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin, out of the 3,753 participants, only 5 % of hunters and 62% of shooters wore hearing protection during the previous year. The same study also revealed that the risk of hearing loss increases 7% every five years a person hunts.
Hunting season is almost here, so plan ahead and start thinking about how you can protect your ears and prevent hearing loss now. Remember, prevention is the best form of medicine, so check out these simple hunting and hearing loss tips you can implement this season.
- Alternate Rifles – If you have other guns, especially ones that shoot at a lower-volume, make sure you alternate between them when you are out shooting. If you commonly use a gun that has a “lower volume” you will significantly help reduce your chances of hearing loss.
- Use a Silencer (If Possible) – If it is legal in your state, then you should consider using a gun suppressor, or a silencer to help reduce the volume of your firearm. Just make sure you double check your state’s laws and regulations regarding silencers before you do so.
- Take Breaks – You don’t want to be exposed to loud, continuous noise for more than 15 minutes at a time, as this can damage your ears and affect your hearing. Take preventative measures and make sure you take 15-minute breaks in between hunting/shooting sessions.
- Shoot Sparingly – Make sure you are not shooting more than necessary. Unnecessary shots not only waste ammo and your money, and scare off the game, but excessive shooting increases your chances of hearing damage since it can damage the hair cells in your ears.
- Wear Protection – Wearing the proper ear guard protection every time you are out shooting, or hunting is imperative if you want to protect your hearing. Earmuffs are available for men, women, and children, so there’s no excuse. Just be sure to pick the appropriate size for you and keep them on, even if you are not shooting. If you are around other shooters and you are not wearing protection, you are putting your ears at risk.
- Alternate Arms – When you are shooting, make sure you rotate your shooting arm. Otherwise, if you only shoot with one arm, you can develop asymmetric hearing loss, which can occur when one ear is more exposed to loud noise than the other ear. To prevent this, don’t hold your rifle to just one side of your body. Instead, learn to alternate between your left and right hands. By doing this, you can expose both of your ears to similar noise settings.