Target Shooting and Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Support' started by latestnight, Apr 2, 2014.

tinnitus forum
    1. latestnight
      Crappy

      latestnight Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      ~2010
      Hello everyone,

      I am wondering if anyone can help shed some light on recreational target shooting and the utilization of hearing protection.

      For some background information, I have long enjoyed target shooting, and I have always worn doubled up hearing protection (wearing both ear plugs and muffs).

      I have had tinnitus for a number of years, and while I have mostly habituated, lately I have become perhaps overprotective of my hearing and stressed about the prospect of my tinnitus getting worse. This brings me to my current question; is it still possible to suffer hearing damage while wearing properly worn double hearing protection?

      As for some numbers, lets say that the average firearm report is around 160 dB in loudness. I wear ear plugs with an NRR of 32 dB, and I wear muffs over the plugs. I have read that wearing double protection adds about 5 dB reduction on top of the higher rated hearing protection. So lets say that with my doubled up protection I have a total NRR of about 37 dB. As an aside, it should also be known that I almost always go shooting at an outdoor range, which by default is less noisy than an indoor range.

      This is where I start to doubt my understanding of the logarithmic decibel scale. With the above numbers in mind, am I still looking at a report of 123 dB with each shot? This level of noise is still clearly within the range in which hearing damage occurs. As for the past, every time I have left the shooting range I was stress free with no discernible hearing damage or lasting effects on my tinnitus.

      I am hoping someone can review my understanding of the decibel scale, and provide feedback. I am also wondering if I am at a point at where I am venturing into a realm of allowing my tinnitus to negatively impact my life too much, in which I am eliminating hobbies that I enjoy. I don't know right now how to balance the protection of my hearing and still participating in things that I enjoy.

      Thank you everyone for reading. I hope that any responses are as objective as possible, as I am sure I am not the only one who has been wondering about some of these thoughts.
       
    2. pef

      pef Member

      Location:
      Georgia, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      3/16/2013
      The dB reductions are additive, but bone/tissue conduction and other factors are limiting. (Someone will set me straight if I am wrong).

      I'm also an avid shooter. Since my onset of T over a year ago, I have doubled up on ear plugs and ear muffs, and I have shot about 3,000 rounds of 9mm, .38, .357 mag and .44 mag in an indoor range. Another 600 of .22, but those are relatively quiet. My hearing and T are unaffected.

      (Incidentally, my T was caused by one shot of a .357 without hearing protection).
       
      • Funny Funny x 1
    3. latestnight
      Crappy

      latestnight Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      ~2010
      Thanks for your reply pef. My experience in how my hearing is affected after a range trip mirrors yours.

      Still wondering if someone can shed some light on my understanding or lack of understanding of the decibel rating scale and hearing protection.
       
    4. attheedgeofscience
      Uninvolved

      attheedgeofscience Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Denmark
      Tinnitus Since:
      Childhood
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Head Injury
      db reductions from dual hearing protection are not additive ie. 25 NRR + 33 NRR ≠ 58 NRR.

      An addtional 5 to 10 decibels reduction rating is achieved when wearing dual hearing protection. But then again, that is still not insignificant given that the energy carried by a sound wave doubles for every 3 db.
       
    5. Kimbo Slice
      Balanced

      Kimbo Slice Member

      Location:
      Canada

      Hey, havn't heard from you on the AM-101 thread. How is the treatment going may I ask?
       
    6. attheedgeofscience
      Uninvolved

      attheedgeofscience Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Denmark
      Tinnitus Since:
      Childhood
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Head Injury
      It is beyond me to really comment on that. What I can say is the following: there seems to be consensus in the medical community that, once someone's hearing has been damaged (ie. tinnitus is present) then the noise level/exposure required to induce further damage is less than that for someone with normal hearing (ie. no tinnitus). What I can also mention is that at loud concerts where the noise level will reach about 115db, there are reports of people having worn earplugs and still ending up with tinnitus.

      I live in Germany, but every now and then I will return to Geneva in Switzerland where my Father still lives. I will usually go for a jog once or twice in the woods while I am there. Nearby is a shooting range. Even when I am 1 km away from the shooting range I can (still) very clearly hear the noise. Suppose someone had been using a chainsaw 1 km away, I doubt I would be able to hear the noise. That just shows how loud gun fire is (from high powered rifles). Also, you are not just exposed to the noise from your own gun fire, but to every one elses', too. It all adds up...

      My advice: stay away from loud noise (with or without ear protection).
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    7. Hudson
      Cowboy

      Hudson Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2003
      I used to go target shooting all the time. I wore ear plugs and some ear muffs over them and I never had any issues whatsoever. The only time my tinnitus has gotten worse is when I have been exposed to loud sounds without protection.

      You can hear gun shots from a long distance away because of the wavelength of the sounds... they carry very far.

      The speed of sound is determined by the frequency * the wavelength. Without getting into the physics of it much, a sound with a large wavelength can travel much farther than that with a very short wavelength (high frequency). That's why elephants use ultra low wavelength sound to communicate over long distances. Whales do it too. High frequency sounds are for close communication.

      Long story short, the blast from a gun is loud (has a pretty good intensity) and has a long wavelength. Therefore, it will travel far because of the high intensity of the original sound and the large wavelength.

      A loud sound of equal intensity but much higher frequency would travel a much shorter distance. That has to do with the friction of the air that is the medium carrying the sound.

      It's up to you though. I personally never had a problem with shooting and my tinnitus, but I did not do it constantly. If you're a person who likes to go shooting every day, well, it possibly could be a problem. Everyone is different though.
       
    8. latestnight
      Crappy

      latestnight Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      ~2010
      Right, I understand that much. I am wondering however if computing noise reduction is as simple as subtracting the combined NNR of about 37 dB from the total noise level of 160 dB.

      I have heard that about damaged hearing, and subsequent noise exposure. Definitely one of the reasons I am examining this past time of mine.

      When I would go target shooting regularly, I would go to the range twice a month at most. Not often at all... And I haven't been in months.

      Thanks for the replies everyone. Still not sure what I am going to do about my hobby, or the control T has over my life for that matter.
       
    9. Sean

      Sean Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      01-01-2011
      IMHO - I Would stay away from loud noise? I am you enjoy target shooting, but i wouldnt take risk what so ever when it comes to T. I went to concert after getting T. It was NOT loud concert at all, but i had MEGA T for 4 months..
       
    10. attheedgeofscience
      Uninvolved

      attheedgeofscience Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Denmark
      Tinnitus Since:
      Childhood
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Head Injury
      Yes, it is as simple as that eg. noise of 160db - 33 NRR = 127 db exposure. However, ear protection devices do not protect equally across all frequencies. 33 NRR for earplugs is the maximum reduction at a specific frequency (usually for the higher frequencies such as 6-8 kHz, less so for the lower frequncies). I am pretty sure you can find graphs of this on the Internet if you search around for a bit...
       
    11. here2help

      here2help Member

      attheedgeofscience, you wrote that "ear protection devices do not protect equally across all frequencies." It is true that over the counter ear plugs do not evenly attenuate sound across all frequencies. But a good pair of custom-made musician's ear plugs do an excellent job providing fairly even protection across a wide range of frequencies. As a result, well made musician's earplugs, such as the type that can be purchased from Etymotic Research, provide good hearing protection while enabling users to hear external sound very clearly, without the muffled sound we hear when using OTC ear plugs.

      You also wrote that "33 NRR for earplugs is the maximum reduction at a specific frequency (usually for the higher frequencies such as 6-8 kHz, less so for the lower frequencies." I disagree.

      I am looking at the back of a package for Flents Soft Foam Ear Plugs, an excellent over the counter brand. These ear plugs have a noise reduction rating of 33 dB. The maximum attenuation provided at 6 kHz is 45.4 dB with a standard deviation of 2.2 dB. The maximum attenuation provided at 8 kHz is 46 dB with a standard deviation of 2.4 dB.

      It is true that a good pair of over the counter ear plugs provide less hearing protection in the lower frequencies than in the higher ones, but they still attenuate sound by at least 33 dB at 125 Hz and provide protection in the mid to high 30s in the frequency range of 250 Hz to 2 kHz.

      here2help
       

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