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serious question on hearing protection...

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Slugo, Mar 29, 2012.

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  1. Slugo

    Slugo Member

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    about 5 years ago I began experiencing excessive ringing in the ears. After a few ENT visits and an MRI, it was determined that I was suffering with an acute case of tinnitus. Bad news, no cure for it, but you learn to live with it, you have to! Anyway, for all my shooting life I have used muffs, mostly for pistol shooting, and foam inserts for shotgunning. Both have seemed to work rather well. But, there must be better solutions.

    I'm now thinking about a more sophisticated and effective method to protect my hearing. Most likely some form of electronic sound suppression which will allow me to hear and speak to people while muffling out shotgun blasts. I'm asking for your recommendations and actual experiences with the devices available today.

    Thanks for any help...
     
  2. esoxhunter

    esoxhunter Well-Known Member

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    I have lived with Tinnitus for 35+ years. After awhile the ringing just becomes something you deal with. I use a "sleep aid" that has programmed into it different sounds. i.e. wind, surf, rain, etc. This enables me to sleep and I do not notice the ringing. (An electric fan also will do the trick). Now if you want total protection while shooting you can't beat ear plugs AND muffs. However, that doesn't allow you to hear on the line. I used many different kinds of muffs over the years. Most interfere with the stock, are hot in the summer and really do not give you a proper seal if you wear glasses. I have tried numerous plugs; but my ear canals must be weird as I can never get a seal that will stay during a round of trap. I finally have found a device that actually works without the various problems that muffs produce. I bought the SensGard SG-31. These work great and allows me to hear fairly decent. They don't interfere with the stock and I can wear shooting glasses without affecting the seal. They are comfortable and I know when the weather gets hot they will be much better than the muffs. Try them; you might like them. I might add that I have used several of the electronic muffs to include the ProEar line. I still prefer this device. And yes tinnitus is a bitch!! Ed
     
  3. Unknown1

    Unknown1 Well-Known Member

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    Muffs offer the advantage of covering the porous bony structures around and behind the ear that pass some of the frequencies of intense sound around the ear canal and directly into the inner ear. Plugs can do only a partial job no matter how much the manufacturer hypes them. Plugs and low profile muffs give the best protection even if you wear glasses.

    Keller
     
  4. bob easton

    bob easton TS Member

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    Like Ed, "esoxhunter," I too have lived with Tinnitus for a long time, about 40 years in my case. I also have been wearing hearing aids (except when shooting) for about 6 years.

    Mine came from a very specific incident while I was working as a mechanic around jet aircraft. {In fact, one ear sings at the idle speed of engine #3 and the other at the idle speed of engine #4 on a specific KC-135 tanker sitting at idle. Pre-flighted and ready to roll, they weren't about to shut down engines and start over while I changed a tire. My fault entirely for not having sufficient hearing protection for 12 minutes.}

    "No cure" is the standard answer, and that has been my experience. There are certain circumstances where it has subsided completely, but I'll mention that a bit further along.

    When shotgunning, I use foam plugs. When properly inserted (watch the YouTube video linked above), they make things quiet enough that I don't understand much speech. They work incredibly well for me, but I understand others having problems getting them to fit well.

    When pistol shooting, especially at indoor ranges which keep all the sound echoing around, I use both plugs and non-electronic muffs.

    I have also used the SensGard device that Ed mentions and like it a lot for shotgunning and also for air travel.

    However, none of those things are going to help with the hearing loss already encountered. None of them are going to relieve the tinnitus. Yes, they'll help prevent further loss, but won't fix what's already done.

    Oh... those few instances of relief are something I simply can't explain and don't understand, but the same thing has happened several times, enough to draw a correspondence. Several times the ringing has completely disappeared for a few hours. In each instance, it happened just after I had been swimming in a public swimming pool. Chlorination? I dunno.

    Lastly, below is a collection of information I have collected in recent months about quite a few hearing protection products.

    I hope some of this helps you Slugo. ... and don't try to worry too much about the ringing. It may never stop, but it can be a lot less annoying if you try not to concentrate on it.

    ---------

    All of these devices offer different levels of protection. Having already had a hearing loss (long ago, not shotgunning), I've done pretty thorough research into what is available and how it is rated. Most devices have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that tells in decibels how much noise they block. The more the better.

    In the list below, BE AWARE THAT 6DB IS AN EFFECTIVE DOUBLING OF SOUND VOLUME.

    In other words... 30 db reduction is TWICE as much as 24 db.

    20 db - custom molded "musicians' plugs" (silicone) - $200

    21 db - low end non-electronic muffs muffs - $15-$30

    22-24 db - low end electronic muffs - $20-$60 - example: Peltor 7 Passive - 24db - $25-$30

    24 db - polymer plugs - SureFire EarPro EP-6 - $15

    24-26 db - better electronic muffs - $150-400 - example: Peltor 7 electronic - 24db - $280

    25 db - Electronic custom molded ESP (silicone) plugs ($2000-2500) - NRR not published on the website, I got the number via mail from them.

    25 db - E.A.R Insta-Mold silicon plugs (at 125 hz - the frequency closest to a shotgun blast) ($1000)

    26 db - premium non-electronic muffs (Pro Ears Ultra 26) - about $40

    26 db - mix it yourself custom molded silicon plugs - $7 - notorious for very poor results

    26 db - SensGard ZEN, model 26, $25 - neither plugs nor muffs; dampens sound in air chambers

    29-30 db - foam earplugs PROPERLY INSERTED - 50 cents/pair - see THIS VIDEO for proper insertion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPNPZJingZA

    31 db - SensGard ZEN, model 31, $33 - neither plugs nor muffs; dampens sound in air chambers

    31 db - non-electronic muff - Browning Buckmark Hearing Protector - $20 (looks like a very good deal)

    32 db - E.A.R. yellow foam plugs - 21 cents/pair in bulk - again: PROPERLY INSERTED, see the video at the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPNPZJingZA

    Comfort and effectiveness are two different things. People have comfort preferences that may or may not give the most effective protection. It's debatable that one needs more than about 24db NRR for shotgun sports. Going for twice as much, 30-32db almost eliminates conversation with others. (Sure cuts down on hearing the snide remarks from the gallery.) So, there are lots of pros and cons. It's your choice. My own choice is properly inserted foam plugs when shotgunning, and a combination of foam plugs AND muffs when pistol shooting at indoor ranges.

    -- Bob Easton
     
  5. Johnny

    Johnny Well-Known Member

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    Slugo, more sophisticated won't mean more effective, more likely the opposite. The EAR yellow plugs are as good as it gets and they are not sophisticated. Also the slimline ear muffs will have a lower NRR than the bulkier muffs. I would avoid the molded plugs as they may or may not seal well.
     
  6. bob easton

    bob easton TS Member

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    Johnny makes a good point.

    If, by "more sophisticated" you mean the electronic muffs or plugs that allow normal conversation and then block out loud noises, take a close look at their NRR ratings. In most cases, you're giving up protection for the convenience of conversation.

    --
    Bob Easton
     
  7. esoxhunter

    esoxhunter Well-Known Member

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    I agree. As stated I've used a "ton" of them. The electronic muffs are no better, (and probably worse), than the inexpensive muffs. Again, I would agree that the foam plugs coupled with the muffs are probably best. I just got sick of the whole mess and went with the SensGard 31. I'll just probably go deaf a few years earlier than most. Ha... Whoops I think I hear the door bell, the phone or whatever. Ed
     
  8. g7777777

    g7777777 TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    Foam plugs with electronic muffs

    Now the electronic muffs I use are the Caldwell sculpted ones for 39 bucks

    The profile is right and they are better than $300 dollar muffs of only a few years ago

    Avoid molded plugs at all costs

    Regards from Iowa

    Gene
     
  9. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    When I was shooting the action pistol games with a very loud compensated .38 Super, I would use Peltor Electronic muffs over foam ear plugs. This made the gun blast a non-issue and I could still hear range commands.

    For shotgunning I just use foam plugs. I also use these everyday at work and wish I had done so during my entire career.

    If you can comfortably use ear muffs while shooting your shotgun then try a set of the electronic muffs. I was amazed at how well I could hear normal conversations - made me acutely aware at how much hearing I have lost.
     
  10. Slugo

    Slugo Member

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    this info has been most helpful. Right off the bat, molded plugs are off the table. I'll try and pick up a pair of thin muffs. Thanks so much for all of your help and suggestions. Much appreciated...
     
  11. Oscar Ray

    Oscar Ray TS Member

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    I have been shooting for about 45 years and I have used all kinds of plugs and muffs, the best I have found are the molded ear plugs I got at the NRA show in Frederick MD. They fit great, and really work well. I do not have to keep adjusting them and usually forget they are even there. I woould not hesitate buying another pair. I plan to have another set made at the PA state shoot in June as a spare set.

    jm2c

    Oscar
     
  12. motordoctor

    motordoctor Shoji Tabuchi in Branson

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    i use the yellow foam plugs and then use muffs over them when on the line. You should actually wear the foam plugs all the time you are at the club near the shooting--and yes sometimes inside the club house to block all the b.s. Try a pair of E.A.R. 1000 muffs. They are about 20 bucks and they fit pretty good. I wear them just a bit higher on the right side to not hit the gun but i have plugs in also. just a thought. motordoc
     
  13. ivanhoe

    ivanhoe Well-Known Member

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    I have said this on numerous threads of this type and I will say it again. Make an appointment with and audiologist.

    Tell them what you are doing and ask what they recommend. I am willing to bet that they will recommend something you can live with. You might be surprised what they recommend.

    Bob Lawless
     
  14. jhummell

    jhummell Member

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    Dang me my ears are ringing more just reading this post. I've had tinnitus for years and it don't get better, protect what hearing you have left, I use both Peltor muffs and foam plugs, when on the line. The more that you dwell on the ringing it seems the worse it becomes. I use a sleep aid at night, a Marsona sound machine the sounds of surf and or thunder storms helps me get to sleep.

    Jon
     
  15. Dr.Longshot

    Dr.Longshot Banned Banned

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    I use the Electronic Muffs and Moulded plugs together.

    Gary Bryant
    Dr.longshot
     
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