Guns are used for hunting, sport and personal protection, but no matter what type of firearm you use or the reason for using it, ear protection for shooting is important.
The fact is that loud sounds that exceed 140 dB of sound can lead to hearing loss, and even a .22-caliber round can meet or exceed this limit when fired.
When you get into larger calibers and more powerful rounds of ammunition, noise levels that result from firearms can reach over 175 dB, enough to lead to permanent hearing loss even during nominal exposure.
Hearing protection should be used while at a shooting range particularly as most ranges are enclosed spaces where loud sounds can reverberate. The concussive soundwave from a round of ammunition may also be amplified in an enclosed space, leading to additional dangers to sensitive eardrums.
The need for shooting ear protection is even greater for members of the armed services. Military service members may be placed in combat situations that require prolonged exposure to gunfire, explosions and other sounds that can damage hearing.
While not all combat noises can be mitigated, shooting ear protection can lessen the potential for damage.
Military Headsets, Shooting Ear Plugs, And Other Equipment
Standard hearing protection for use at a shooting range or while sport shooting usually comes in the form of foam ear plugs or a padded, insulated headset. Military hearing protection, however, is a bit more complex.
A military headset will not only need to be built according to specific standards, but it will also need to provide service members with the ability to complete their tasks without undue interference.
This can be difficult to balance in a combat situation as soldiers will need to be able to maintain the ability to communicate while also preserving the health of their hearing.
3M, makers of many specialty products for manufacturing and industrial applications, has been approved by the United States Army to supply military forces with the brand’s PELTOR TEP-100 tactical hearing protection equipment.
PELTOR TEP-100 utilizes talk-through technology that allows service members to reduce certain noises while providing the ability to communicate effectively with team members. 3M has previously introduced tactical ear protection for law enforcement through its PELTOR COMTAC III ACH equipment.
Even though 3M and other brands are approved to provide hearing protection equipment for military use, this doesn’t mean that soldiers are allowed to use civilian-grade hearing protection from these brands.
Instead, they must use approved and provided hearing protection equipment. This is done to protect soldiers, promote uniformity and provide a standard against which other military decisions are measured.
Preventing Hearing Loss Due To Military Service
Hearing protection is such a big issue when it comes to military service that multiple lawsuits are currently underway against the makers of some hearing protection for military use.
Although 3M has found success with its PELTOR lines of hearing protection, the brand has also been the focus of many lawsuits from prior service members who claim that 3M’s ear plugs were not sufficient to protect hearing during combat and live-fire training.
Service members who experience hearing loss symptoms or suspect that their hearing has been damaged during the carrying out of official duties should report cases to their commanding officers.
The military compiles data on hearing loss cases, and it is important for all affected service members to provide case data so that trends can be monitored and concerns can be addressed.
In the case of faulty hearing protection, the more cases reported, the faster the problem can be rectified and hearing can be saved.
Service members are also encouraged to work with training officers if they have questions or concerns about the proper use of provided military hearing protection.
This applies in all situations that involve loud noises, including shooting ranges, combat situations, training exercises and industrial sites. While training is provided in the proper use of personal protection equipment, questions can and do come up, and it’s better to receive clarification rather than risk your health.