I’m seriously hearing impaired. Though I hear a lot of actual sound, inner ear damage from early childhood restricts how much of it I actually understand because I don’t distinguish one sound from another very well. That is most troubling when listening to human speech, because the different sounds are usually quite subtle. I’ve had to read lips and watch body language all my life.
Now I am starting to experience other hearing loss from simple aging as well. So you can believe that I am very, VERY careful to maintain good hearing protection when I shoot. I’ve made the big mistake of firing a gun, or being nearby when one is fired without protection, and it has not happened often if I could do anything about it.
But yesterday, at the start of the weekly shooting clinic I host here, I had the misfortune to be exposed to that first shot without much protection at all. I fired a 9mm pistol at an indoor range. It hurt, and my ears buzzed for several hours.
I have electronic ear “muffs” that allow me to hear conventionally, but which block most of very loud sounds like gun shots. I spent the money to buy really good ones, and they are terrific… as long as the batteries are good. My old muffs ate batteries at a terrific rate and I was careful to keep them fresh, but this new one has been in use at least weekly for six months and I simply forgot about the batteries until yesterday.
They had died… The muff itself helped some, and I know it would have been much worse without them, but the electronic part that actually dampens the loud sound couldn’t work without “juice.”
So, I have one more thing to add to my pre range checklist. When I open my range bag to check for ammunition, water, hand wipes and make sure I have my magazines and speedloaders, I will henceforth also put on the muffs to be sure the batteries are good. It would be nice if there was an indicator on the outside. A little LED light to indicate functioning when it’s turned on would be terrific. Some kind of hand held battery checker might be worth buying because unless there is a “loud sound” when they are on, it is really hard to tell.
This got me to thinking about how we might protect our hearing if we ever had to shoot in self defense. I hung the “old” ear muffs near the shotgun on the wall in my bedroom. I would hope to have time (and remember) to put it on if someone was kicking in the door. But they wouldn’t do me a whole lot of good if the batteries were dead. Need to go back to checking them regularly too.
I also carry standard foam earplugs in a pocket all the time. (The cardboard container disintegrates in the wash, of course, but even going through the dryer doesn’t seem to harm the plugs.) I have another set in my CC rig, and one on the desk in the office.
Would I have time to put them in during an emergency, either at home or out and about? Would I think about it in time if I did? No way to determine that, of course, but I know I would have no protection possible if I didn’t carry them. Seems worth the small effort.
Hmm, maybe it would be good to add that to my dry fire practice? Yep, I think so.
What precautions do you take to protect your hearing? Your comments are welcome, as always.