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Thread: Has anyone ever hurt their ears shooting a gun?

  1. #1
    Dirt biker/carp hunter Stick500's Avatar
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    Has anyone ever hurt their ears shooting a gun?

    Has anyone out there ever injured their ears while hunting? Saturday (Dec. 12) I shot 4 rounds from a borrowed 30.06 at a deer, 3 shots really fast in succession and then had the usual ringing in my ears and thought nothing of it. Then my left ear felt "full" or pressurized" like when you come down in a plane. I googled hearing loss from guns and was horrified by what I read! I always thought it took lots of years of loud noise (like car racing) to gradually hurt your ears but sometimes it can only take one shot to do permanent damage. By all the symptoms I have(ringing, fullness, phantom clanking metal noises) it sounds like that's what I did and since the fullness hasn't gone away yet, it's a good bet I've permanently damaged my hearing in that ear. Beware! There's ear protection for hunters that allows you to still hear important quiet sounds. Wish I had 'em.
    I've seen crewman around funny cars and top fuelers in the pits adjusting running engines with apparently no ear protection! How can they do that?
    Now that I've hurt my ears I'm going to wear protection at those loud IndyCar races...
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  2. #2
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    Important warning. Thanks for posting it. I hope you make a recovery.

    I've never noticed anything from shooting my .30-06 without hearing protection. Although I should use muffs or quality earplugs, I'll get some before I shoot again. Thanks. I used to have a pair, when I shot more often, but lost them a couple years back in a move.

    I once shot a shotgun from under a shed roof/deer blind and I had ringing for more than a bit. I also was once near someone at a range who used a muzzle brake. Those things are horrible and when it went off unexpectedly near me it did hurt and I just about kicked the ### of the dude who fired it without warning. Muzzle brakes are awful. IMO. They direct much of the gases/sound out the side and backwards from the muzzle, instead of downrange, to counteract the recoil. And so they are very dangerous for hearing and nobody should shoot one of those things without earmuffs. Or be near one either. But we all should use hearing protection on other guns as well. The old salts from the gun mags often talk about the hearing loss they suffered more gradually over a career, and warn everybody to use protection these days.

    Good luck. Don't give up hope. I suppose it can be just one shot to cause loss (I guess they say there's some on every shot) but I've also heard of quite dramatic recovery even after the sensitive parts "shut down" for days. Maybe you will be one of the positive cases. Best wishes man. I don't know if it will rescue anything to go see a hearing specialist, but it sure won't hurt. An exam shouldn't cost an arm and a leg. You'll need to eventually so why not sooner rather than later.
    Last edited by Coyote; 12-18-2009 at 07:29 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Please believe all of this is very real. I have shot thousands of rounds of ammo at clay pigeons, been involved in auto racing in one way or another for most of my adult life, and played drums in a rock band for several years. I always knew I should be protecting my hearing, but thought I was too tough for that. Well, now I am 54 years old, and you can ask the young lady that sits next to me at work each day, my hearing is terrible. Please take the time/effort to protect yourself whenever exposed to noise. It is amazing that even noises that you don't think would make a difference, will do so in the long haul. Thanks for bringing this topic to light.

  4. #4
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    I used to waterfowl hunt a lot and I had the same thing happen. Me and 2 buddies always went together and it gets loud when 3 shoot at the same time from a blind. Anyway, mine have never stopped ringing, but I don't even think about it now. Like everything else, you get used to it. Oh, it was about 20 years ago or better.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Stick500
    Has anyone out there ever injured their ears while hunting? Saturday (Dec. 12) I shot 4 rounds from a borrowed 30.06 at a deer, 3 shots really fast in succession and then had the usual ringing in my ears and thought nothing of it. Then my left ear felt "full" or pressurized" like when you come down in a plane. I googled hearing loss from guns and was horrified by what I read! I always thought it took lots of years of loud noise (like car racing) to gradually hurt your ears but sometimes it can only take one shot to do permanent damage. By all the symptoms I have(ringing, fullness, phantom clanking metal noises) it sounds like that's what I did and since the fullness hasn't gone away yet, it's a good bet I've permanently damaged my hearing in that ear. Beware! There's ear protection for hunters that allows you to still hear important quiet sounds. Wish I had 'em.
    I've seen crewman around funny cars and top fuelers in the pits adjusting running engines with apparently no ear protection! How can they do that?
    Now that I've hurt my ears I'm going to wear protection at those loud IndyCar races...
    My story is almost exactly the same, Stick.

    Until I was 23, I had been shooting without ear protection all my life. In addition to playing guitar and going to airshows and drag racing and all the other loud things I do.

    One day I was out in the hills plinking with my AR-15, which I had owned and shot on a regular basis for about 5 years to that point. I loaded up the first mag, and fired one shot. One. AR-15s have a pretty sharp report.

    POP.

    I felt my left ear fill up, and it completely screwed up my balance. I fell over and puked. The drive home was not fun, either, particularly when I started the motor in my '74 Monte Carlo and that badazz old-school GM air conditioner cranked up. My hearing has never been the same; luckily it wasn't bad enough to lose my medical and keep me from flying, but thanks to all these years of guns, amplifiers, monitors, drummers, unmuffled alky-burning big-blocks, afterburners, and transonic prop blade tips, at 38 I have the ears of somebody closer to 90.
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    Man, another bummer deal. So is it because of the semi-auto action where the gas port opens down much closer to the ear Sea Fury?

    Because now that I think of it, I've never been bothered when I shot my guns (in the open) without hearing protection, 20 gauge, 16 ga, 12 gauge, .30/06, .30-.30, although once I was told different I began wearing muffs. At least some of the time.

    But my tiny .22 rimfire semi-auto is annoyingly loud. I hate it. My single shot bolt .22 makes a somewhat quiet "PPffft!" but the semi-auto makes an irritating CRACK in my ear. Just a .22 rimfire LR!

    And I have no other semi-autos, only bolt and pumps. So no gases escaping near my ear, just out the muzzle.

    If it's due to the semi-auto gas ejection it's something people should know. Or maybe not, just always wear plugs I guess.

  7. #7
    Minion of the VRWC Lemming51's Avatar
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    Cool

    Might be subject for a poll. Now that Stick500 brought it up, I'd think tinnitus would be pretty common among the fans and participants here at TF. I've got very mild tinnitus, only hear the ringing when all else is dead quiet, and even then it's not bothersome.

    While I have always carried hearing protectors to races, particularly for family/friends I took with me, I often wouldn't use them myself. But after a particularly loud Indy 500 (1998, 1999? whatever was the last year of 4.0L with 90-deg. cranks) where I "toughed it out" without hearing protectors, the ringing was very noticable and didn't calm down for several weeks and had me pretty worried. I've worn protectors ever since.
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  8. #8
    Been at Indy since 1956! ZOOOM's Avatar
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    The worst I have encountered were the F1 cars at Indy comming down the main straight from the upper deck...
    18,000 RPM just tickled my ears.
    Luckily we didn't sit there for the race...

    Never wore ear protection for races.
    Always wore headphones whil flying and shooting.

    Unfortunately I can STILL hear my wife when I screw up....

    ZOOOM
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  9. #9
    Dirt biker/carp hunter Stick500's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sea Fury
    POP.

    I felt my left ear fill up, and it completely screwed up my balance. I fell over and puked.
    from what I've gathered there's two ways you can harm your ears from a gunshot- one is piercing the eardrum and the other is damaging the little hairs that lay down in the fluid-filled chamber. It sounds like Sea Fury may have burst his eardrum as the symptoms were different than mine. I think my eardrum is still intact and that it's the little hairs that send messages to our brains that are messed up.

    and yeh, I had a mild case of tinnitus before the accident but just chalked that up to old age- now as I've researched this it seems it was racing, shooting, concerts, etc. that got me to this point

  10. #10
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    Wanna talk about loud guns. Back in the 80's when the Navy brought back the Battleships I was on the USS Fife. We were doing gun fire exercise's with the USS New Jersey, the roar of those 16 inchers was something I will never in my life forget.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZOOOM
    The worst I have encountered were the F1 cars at Indy comming down the main straight from the upper deck...
    18,000 RPM just tickled my ears.

    I was going to post the same thing. We walked from Indy T1 toward Indy T4 during a practice and being under the roof just killed my hearing for a week.

    Yeah...it's too loud and I'm too old anymore I guess.
    ...---...

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Coyote
    Man, another bummer deal. So is it because of the semi-auto action where the gas port opens down much closer to the ear Sea Fury?
    I think I read it's partially due to the .223 Remington's relatively high pressure and velocity. Strange because my uncle's Mini-14, same caliber, doesn't seem as loud.

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