Author: Mike Schoby
Hearing is believing.
If you hunt, or target shoot and happen to enjoy your sense of hearing - protecting it is a good idea. According to recent studies the more you shoot, the more important protecting your hearing becomes. And while it is a fact that repeated exposure is very harmful to hearing, don't be fooled into thinking damage only comes from a lifetime of abuse - sometimes it can be a single event that permanently impairs hearing.
The vast majority of target and recreational shooters wear some form of hearing protection while at the range, but far fewer do so in the field mainly because of the key role hearing plays in a successful hunt. If you can't hear a gobbler sound off, a deer approaching through fallen leaves or an elk bugle, you are not going to be as effective. In addition to being effective, these sounds, for many of us, are why we go outside in the first place. Wearing hearing protection that inadvertently muffles the audible grandeur of nature is akin to going to a fireworks show with welding goggles on.
However, protecting your hearing in the field is just as important as at the range - in some cases more so. Magnum calibers can produce severe muzzle blast and ported barrels often direct the sound waves back at the shooter, which is extremely harmful to the ear. All it takes is one or two shots from a ported, high-powered rifle to ring your bells - do it a couple times a season, and expect those bells to keep ringin' for a long time - maybe forever.
It used to be a trade off - protect your ears and miss out on a possible shot opportunity (as well as the majority of the outdoor experience) or go "commando" and lose a little bit of hearing each time the trigger is pulled. But this isn't the case anymore. In fact, with today's technology, you can protect your hearing and hear better doing it.
Recently I had the opportunity to use Walker's Game Ear Quad Muffs at the range and was amazed by their performance. I have used electronic sound amplification devices before, but have never experienced anything more comfortable to wear, better sound quality, and providing such "stereo-like" directional sound all with sufficient noise protection for any shooting situation.