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My path to partial deafness began in 1965 in the Navy when I had to qualify with the .45 Auto pistol. Indoor range, no eye protection unless you needed glasses to see, and no hearing protection. After that episode, I had ringing for the next 3 weeks, and the only "cure" was the advice from the ship's medic - "Try to blow your nose while you pinch the nostrils shut". The procedure only diminished the volume of the ringing for about 30 seconds. This, coupled with the sounds of the 5-inch guns directly aft of our flight deck, and the horrendous whine of jet turbine engines doomed me to a lifetime of "What?". Fast forward though the next 40 years of working in a jet-engine-parts machine shop listening to metal being cut at high speed. It wasn't until the last 10 years that hearing protection was mandated by the state health department, but the damage was done many years before that. These days, I can't hear violins playing, various alarms, like smoke detectors, and voices on the TV unless I crank up the volume, or suffer through wearing wireless headphones when the wife complains.
The ears have the ability to turn down the volume of loud noises automatically, however, it can't turn it back up. <HEAVY SIGH>
 

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Hearing protection cannot be over stressed! Everytime you get that "ringing" in your ears, from whatever loud noise, you are causing permanent damage to your hearing. For a while, the ringing will stop after a peroid of time but eventually it won't stop and you'll be listening to it the rest of your life! Having been around the three worst - jet airplanes, guns and loud music - my hearing is horrible, with way to many "What's" and "Huh's." And take notice, there is no cure! Some of it depends on the firearm and a fair bit depends on the caliber... for some reason, I find .223 downright painful! For anything other than hunting, where you should use electronic muffs if legal or at least plugs, plugs and muffs are a necessity with anything other than .22 LR. Personally, I used both even for a .22. This is especially important for the younger kids! When you have to travel to shoot, hearing protection for everyone should be the #1 item on the list!
Cheers,
crkckr
 

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I think of this a lot when I watch a TV show involving a gunfight in an enclosed area. I know it is just TV, but I am a stickler for realism. No mention of hearing damage, or reaction of the actors. But just feeling the concussion from firing of handguns in an inside range makes me realize that doing that without protection would be extremely unpleasant at the very least, with permanent hearing loss a likely result.
 
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Once when I was overseas, I went to the outdoor range to practice instinctive hip shooting at a close target.

Got everything ready, did a couple of dry draws. Time to go live...

First shot: Bang! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! (the sound in my left ear). I sheepishly looked around to see if anybody saw me, then I holstered my pistol, reached up to my head, and put my muffs on. Boy, did I feel dumb!

I couldn't hear for a few days out of my left ear after that.
 

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When I was in, we had ear pro in basic training, but not in-country. That's why so many Vietnam vets are darn near deaf. Fast forward to now. My son's in. Whenever they left the FOB in Iraq or Afghanistan, everybody was required to wear eye & ear pro, and a ballistic plate in their body armor. Platoon leaders and sergeants had to make sure everyone was equipped. The ear pro they were issued are the ones you see on TV these days, the ones that are the target of a class action suit because they don't work. That said, I don't know if these guys are any better off than we were.
 

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One of the worst things I ever did was to fire a Walther model 5 .25 acp without hearing protection. It's not that big a round... is it? I think it was louder than my .45 P-90!
 

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One of the worst things I ever did was to fire a Walther model 5 .25 acp without hearing protection. It's not that big a round... is it? I think it was louder than my .45 P-90!
I think the worst round I've fired was a .22 Mag out of a revolver. That sound has a frequency pitch that could penetrate steel. It felt like an ice pick was suddenly shoved into my ear.
 

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I guess I'm not the only one that gets serenaded by the charming tinnitus ... I've always used hearing protection when target shooting, I guess nothing stops it completely ... the noise that is. My hearing is bad enough that I can't hear the beeping of the electronic thermometer, wife and son find great humor in that ...
 

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I too have government incurred hearing loss. In real life ear plugs don't enter your mind as far as putting them on before pulling the trigger. I kept mine on my web belt in a clear plastic case but unless I was walking toward a aircraft with its engines running, I usually never had the time to use them. A M-16 is a bit loud, louder than our .38s, but out other weapons were louder, the M-60 for example. The quietest things we had were the 40mm grenades launchers, M-148, M-79, and M-174.You didn't need protection from those. When you get into the 41 magnum, the sound and shock wave, not to mention the fire from the cylinder and barrel will increase quite a bit, as well as recoil. Some police departments went for the 41, like San Antonio P.D. It gives a good solid hit and isn't as fierce as the 44 mag. The 44 magnum is as far as I will go with a handgun. It's a small cannon with a incredible amount of power to put on a target. The noise alone is completely different from the other mentioned weapons. I've ween people who were surprised by the power of a 357, afraid to even try a 44 when they saw the size of the round. I would have loved to be able to carry a 44 magnum while I was in S.E.A.
 
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