Fall 2017

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30 PULLUSA MAGAZINE FALL 2017 THE FIELD C OAC H K ELV IE'S C ORNER THE SOUND OF SILENCE HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT HEARING PROTECTION by JASON KELVIE illustrations by TOM RICHMOND earing protection comes in hundreds of styles these days, so choosing the right one for you can be quite a challenge. The industry has everything from standard foam plugs, to earmuffs, to higher-end custom-fit electronic devices. Some are so small you can barely see them in your ear while others are so big and bulky you can barely get your cheek on the stock. Regardless of what style of hearing protection you use it's key to understand the different types and how they can best work for you. UNDERSTANDING DECIBEL RATING When deciding which type of hear- ing protection is best for you, it's important to understand how hear- ing protection works. The volume of sound is measured using decibels (db), and the average shotgun blast comes in at about 150db. That's pret- ty loud. So to protect against hearing damage, you need to find hearing protection that will reduce that deci- bel level significantly. Hearing protection products are sold with a "NRR" number on the p a c k a g e . N R R s t a n d s f o r " n o i s e reduction rating." It means that once you put the hearing protection on, it will reduce the decibel level of noises in your environment by that number. The higher the rating, the more pro- tection the product will offer. For example, a standard 12-gauge shotgun produces roughly 150db when fired. Applying hearing protec- tion with a rating of -32 can reduce the decibels significantly making each shot as safe as possible. TYPES AND STYLES For years, disposable earplugs and earmuffs have been the most com- mon forms of hearing protection. Disposable earplugs don't often fit the best, and because of the mate- rials they 're made of, they lack the ability to provide the best NRR rat- ing. Custom-molded earplugs, on the other hand, are reusable and are form-fitted to your ear specifically. The better fit, and the denser mate- rials they're made of provide a much better NRR. Earmuffs are also a good option, as they are designed to com- pletely cover the ear creating a seal and minimizing excessive sound. The decision between earplugs and earmuffs is a personal prefer- ence. Some athletes may have sensi- tive ear canals or struggle to properly insert earplugs. Also, an athlete can increase their NRR by using both earplugs and earmuffs at the same time if they so desire. Either way, the key to selecting the right hearing protection for you is to make sure whatever you use is comfortable and in proper working order. RECOMMENDATIONS As a coach I recommend to all my athletes that they try both styles of hearing protection before deciding which fits them best. However, I've found that most of my athletes tend to go with custom-molded earplugs, as they won't interfere with mount- ing and shooting their shotgun. ✪ I F YO U P R EF ER E A R P LU G S TO E A R M U F F S , G O W I T H C U S TO M - M O L D ED R EU S A B L E E A R- P LU G S F O R A B E T T ER F I T A N D B E T T ER P R OT EC T I O N . TIPS H JA S O N K E LV I E / U S A H S C T L C OAC H ED U C AT I O N A N D S U P P O R T M A N AG ER

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