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Questions for the Experts: How important is good ear protection at the shooting range

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  • Written By: Felicia Messimer
Questions for the Experts: How important is good ear protection at the shooting range

We asked members of our medical staff to answer some common questions they hear from their patients. Read Audiologist Kathryn Schmidt-Miller, MS, CCC, answer to: I worry that my husband is going to lose his hearing because he doesn’t wear good ear protection at the shooting range.

A: You are right to be worried. Noise-induced hearing loss is usually slow and painless. But, it is permanent. The hair cells and hearing nerve cannot be fixed.

Noise-induced hearing loss happens when you listen to loud sounds. These sounds can last a long time, like listening to a concert, or they can be short, like from firearms.

Three things put people at risk for noise-induced hearing loss:

  1. How loud the noise is
  2. How close you are to the noise
  3. How long you hear the noise

We record noise levels in decibels, or dBA. The higher the noise level, the louder the noise. You can listen to sounds at 70 dBA or lower for as long as you want. Sounds at 85 dBA can lead to hearing loss if you listen to them for more than 8 hours at a time.

Firearms produce a decibel level of 140-150 and are not safe at any period of time without hearing protection.

You probably don't always carry a sound level meter with you, so here are some signs that the noise is too loud:

  • You must raise your voice to be heard.
  • You can't hear or understand someone 3 feet away from you.
  • Speech around you sounds muffled or dull after you leave the noisy area.
  • You have pain or ringing in your ears after you hear the noise, called tinnitus. It can last for a few minutes or a few days.

It’s very important for your husband to protect his hearing by wearing earplugs or earmuffs when he is at the shooting range.

Earplugs go into the ear so that they totally block the canal. Earmuffs fit completely over both ears. They must fit tightly to block sound from going into your ears. Earplugs and earmuffs can be used together to cut noise down even more.

Patients can have custom earplugs made in about two weeks at the Campbell County Medical Group Audiology Clinic. There is no charge for the initial and follow-up appointments, and the most common type of earplugs are about $250. Learn more here >>>

We're here to help you hear!
If you would like to know more about your hearring, or if a comprehensive hearing test was indicated, call the Campbell County Medical Audiology at 307.688.4368 for an appointment with audiologist Kathryn Schmidt-Miller, MS, CCC. At the Audiology Clinic, we provide identification, assessment and rehabilitation of hearing loss. Kathy is a member and has served on the board of the National Hearing Conservation Association. If hearing is your concern, we are here to meet your needs. Learn more at

  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Audiology, Campbell County Medical Group Family Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Complex and Internal Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic, Campbell County Medical Group Pediatrics, Campbell County Medical Group Walk-In Clinic & Occupational Health, Campbell County Medical Group Wright Clinic & Occupational Health, Patient Care, Wellness