It is normal to find shooters walking into an active shooting activity without ear protective gear. But, do they understand the risks involved in the long run? How many hunters above 60 years still have good hearing?
Although hearing every shot to a duck, elk or deer is important, it erodes your hearing abilities, robing hunters one of their important senses. At times this goes to an extent where a hunter cannot properly engage in a conversation. The damages caused to the ears can either be temporary or permanent.
Wearing ear protection does not only protect the hearing loss, but it also saves a hunter from using hearing aids in the future. However, good news to the hunters is that they can prevent themselves from permanent conditions like tinnitus and induced hearing loss.
Facts indicate that a single gunshot can cause a permanent hearing loss. Over 85 decibels of gunshot noise can cause has negative impact to a hunter’s hearing capabilities. Remember a normal shot ranges between 130 -180 decibels louder whether it is a give or take.
The effectiveness ofa hearing protection gear is based on the NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). Therefore,the higher the NRR, the higher the hearing protection you get from a device, resulting in the reduction of exposure to loud noise.
While Earplugs are better than hunting on naked ears, earmuffs are effective for shooting and hunting ear protection.
It is important to wear ear protection when exposed to noisy environments and when you enter any shooting range. Luckily there are better options available on the market to address the problem. This guide will make it easier for you to make the best choices that meet your needs.
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These electronic earmuffs are by far some of the most popular earmuffs you will see at the range. They work really well to block loud noises and amplify quiet sounds.
If you want to protect the eardrum from excessive pressure produced by the gunshots, I recommend Howard Leight Impact Sport. They come with a slim profile that cannot affect a hunter’s cheek weld when undertaking a long shot.
The product is fairly priced although their price is much higher than that of regular ear muffs or normal earplugs. However, they provide greater performance compared to other cheaper form of electronic hearing protection out there.
So, apart from protecting your ears, they improve your hearing abilities as well. Most hunters prefer them because they are easy and simple to use as they have an adjustable headband.
While, the inbuilt NRR 22 decibels, provides hearing protection under normal circumstances, you can enhance extra protection by combining them with earplugs.
Also, they allow the hunter to have normal conversations with their partner. Consequently, the user can hear little sounds like that made by an approaching deer. They are ideal for both waterfall and big game hunting.
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This device is a comfortable design and has a noise reduction rate of 26 decibels. It cuts down all the unwanted sounds, as well as amplifying low sounds while you can still hear background sounds.
They are simple to fold around the cups making it compact and easy to store. Also, the adjustable headband features allow users to adjust to their desired sizes and fittings.It comes with soft ear cushions and a deep earcup design that provides comfort when worn over long hours. They are ideal for airport ground personnel, forklift drivers, industrial workers, and maintenance mechanics.
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This product works really well compared to other options in the market. They have high range definition speakers that produce a superior sound.
Even though they have a higher noise reduction rating stand of 23 decibels, you can still hear sounds from outside the muffs. This sound is directed to the ear through the alumni directional microphones at a delay of .02 second.
The user can easily control the volume even when wearing gloves as it is featured with a ridged off and on control model. The razor slim Electronic Muff has the AAA batteries than prolong its battery life.
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The Honeywell Sync Wireless garget allows the hunter to talk and work wirelessly, ensuring safety to theirears. It is also possible to connect with other Bluetooth devices for calls and music.
The microphones are effective in noisy and louder environments as it picks only the voice of the user, thus ensuring clarity in the audio output. This device can also rotate to your back to avoid destruction when not in use.
The headband is made of tough steel that improves its durability hence its overall lifespan. Also, the ear cups and the headband have added padding for comfort and extra protection.
This hearing protection model limits the sound output to 82Db, thus protecting the headphones. It also comes with the airflow technology, which ensures noise is well managed across all frequencies.
The 32Db rating of SNR and a 25Db, NRR ensures proper hearing protection for you to continue enjoying your work and hobbies.
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This gadget offers the highest flexibility as you can easily connect to your audio device or phone through wired or wireless connections. While it is ideal for connecting your devices through Bluetooth for a wireless experience, you can switch to an audio cable when you need a more reliable connection.
The device comes with adjustable features to fit different head shapes and sizes. The headband has ventilations inform of cutouts to give you comfort when hunting for long hours. Also, the rubberlike shell texture around the ears provides a comfortable seal around your ears.
This gadget applies the dynamic suppression time to measure the energy of each gunshot noise to set the suppression time, which eventually reduces echoes, thus increasing overall comfort. Based on the NRR, the device protects 26Db, which is an ideal range for you to enjoy shooting or hunting at the range.
By using the device, you have the option of switching between the 2 AA batteries and the Li-on rechargeable battery. You can, therefore, choose the charging option that fits your needs. Also, you can replace your AA batteries when they run out of power or recharge your rechargeable battery to save more time ad money.
The lightweight design and the low profile of these headphones ensure no distractions when shooting. Also, thee cut out design provides a resting place for the gunstock at the lower part of the ear cup. This design allows the aiming down of the gun with the stock without a feeling of awkwardness.
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These earmuffs provide you with hearing protection in all noisy environments. You can also perform activities like landscaping work, lawn mowing, and machine operation without risking your years to induced hearing loss.
These earmuffs have an NRR rating of 29 Db, which provides very high noise protection. The NRR from this device is tied with the Mpow HP102A.
This device supports FM radio, which is a unique feature of it. There is, therefore, the best choice for people who like listening to their favorite radio when carrying their everyday chores. You don’t need to connect to a device as it has a high sensitive inbuilt antenna and a channel memory which allows you to access your programs by scanning your radios frequencies.
This earmuff allows you to have a wireless or a wired connection to your phone. You can choose to connect with either your Bluetooth or a standard jack cable for a wired connection. Additionally, Bluetooth syncing will allow you to connect two different devices at the same time.
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This earmuff comes with soft ear pads and PU leather that is friendly to the skin. It offers a comfortable snug fit since the earpads rest easily around the ears.
Also, it features an adjustable headband that accommodates users of different head sizes and shapes. This feature allows the headphone to distribute its weight which eventually reduces pressure on the head.
This headphone reduces noise to its lowest level, the reason why it has an SNR rating of 36Db, and an NNR rating of 29Db. Also, the foam pads offer a tight fit around the ear, ensuring blockage of excess noise into the year.
This device features precise controls and buttons that allow you to navigate and adjust to your desired audio connections and volume. You can also answer your calls when necessary.
As a user, you have the option of connecting your audio device or mobile phone via a 3.5mm audio input or Bluetooth. This flexibility allows you to connect your devices to your preferences.
The above recommendations can be a great place to start for beginners. Also, you should consider the following factors before buying a hearing protector.
Noise Reduction Rating
The main function of hearing devices is to reduce noise from the outside environment. Always ensure that the noise reduction rating is included in the description. The NRR measurement determines how well the hearing protection device protects against excessive sound levels. This higher rating is also ideal for people with sensitive ears, damaged areas, or those exposed to high levels of sound.
Ear Muff’s Size and Weight
The electronic muffs should be compact and less bulky. The cup needs to be to its minimal size to accommodate most users.
You can find ultra-slim cuffs on the market although they might be expensive. Another factor to put into consideration is the head size. However, these devices are unisex and can, therefore, accommodate a wide range of measurements.always go for earmuffs equipped with an adjustable band because they will help you to get the smallest or the largest size to fit your needs.
Important features contribute to comfortability include, the texture of the foam that makes the headband and also the weight of the headset. Very tight ear muffs do not offer comfortability and may result in neck ache, headache or slip offs when less expected.
Electronic earmuffs come in square, oval, and rectangular shapes. Users feel better on one form than the other.
Electronic ear devices are very much affordable. Also, make sure you get the value for money when you go for the expensive category. At this stage, you can always experiment with the cheaper ones before upgrading to the most expensive ones.
Key Additional Features
You should target those devices with additional features like convenience, comfort, and protection. Other detailed additional features include; building a microphone, antimicrobial materials to prevent allergic reactions since the device will be against the skin.
Water Resistance – Ear muffs that are water-resistant are durable as they can withstand harsh weather conditions and any other form of dampness that may be caused by sweating. Prolonged exposure of these devices to moisture may reduce their functionality.
Foldable Ear Muffs –foldable devices are easy to carry around as they also occupy less space. It also means that they are not prone to breakage when bent accidentally.
Microphone – devices that come with microphones allow you to connect to other external audio devices. You can switch to your favorite channels.
Color choices – Although black is the common color of muffs, manufacturers have now produced different colors to fit your style and preferences.
Protective Case – Every user needs a protective case to store your device or to protect it when traveling.
Warranties, guarantees, and return policy
For you to feel confident, you need to ensure that return policies and guarantees are included in the purchase. This policy should indicate the actual dates when these policies expire.
The traditional September first dove opener is almost certainly the single biggest opening day in the United States. It’s also one of the single biggest days for shotshell manufacturers, with millions of rounds expended against these speed demons.
A dove’s small size, speed and acrobatic flight all combine to make it one of wingshooting’s most difficult targets.
It’s said that one bird for five shells is a pretty good average. Usually, I can beat that, but add factors like a stiff breeze or birds that have already been shot at and one per five starts to look pretty good!
I just had a refresher course in missing doves in the grainfields of Sonora, Mexico. I was shooting with Alcamp (U.S. agent: Doug Mauldin, Derrydale Press, Lyon, Mississippi) near Hermosillo.
The doves were there in thousands, but so were extenuating circumstances: windy days and doves that had been shot at for months.
These were the most difficult doves I’ve shot at in years–and I won’t divulge my shell-to-bird ratio. But with Mexico’s higher bag limit and abundant birds, I did have a chance to relearn some old lessons.
Here are dove hunting tips for beginners:
Due to their small size, doves are rarely as far as you think. Most shots are between 20 and 30 yards, and 40 yards is very, very far.
In most situations, you’ll drop far more birds with an Improved Cylinder or Skeet choke than with Modified or tighter. If your gun has interchangeable tubes, start with an open choke; you can always tighten up if the birds are flying high.
Generic “dove loads” are usually cheaper due to second-quality shot. Less-uniform shot means poorer patterns, and doves are small enough to be very unforgiving of holes in your patterns.
Buy good shells. Target loads are a good choice; they’ll cost a bit more, but chances are you’ll shoot fewer in filling your limit. Number 8 shot is generally the best choice.
Doves will normally fly along definite terrain features; rarely do they enter or leave fields or go to water in a random fashion.
Treelines, fence lines, drainage ditches, even prominent individual trees, and shrubs are likely spots to take a stand.
Avoid spots surrounded by high vegetation where recovering downed birds would be difficult.
Don’t be too stubborn to move if it looks like birds are flying better down the line. But don’t crowd your neighbor–make certain you know exactly where any other shooters are, and make certain they know where you are.
Doves become wary as soon as the first shots sound. Pick your spot in some taller grass or weeds, so your silhouette is broken.
If there’s enough cover so you can stand, all the better. Alternatively, bring a camp stool so you can sit comfortably and rise quickly if the cover is not enough.
If you have to hunker down on the ground, you won’t be in a comfortable position to shoot and you’ll lose some opportunities because it takes too long to stand up.
Under ideal circumstances, you can see doves coming a long way out. Stay still and let them come.
Pick your bird, then raise the gun, swing, and fire–all while the bird is in range. Raising the gun and tracking the birds too early invites unhittable acrobatics.
It’s almost impossible to watch all directions, so pick the most likely direction for birds to fly and concentrate your attention there, understanding that you might miss out on the odd birds that do the unexpected.
Pay attention, swiveling your eyes back and forth across the horizon.
If more birds are surprising you by coming from behind, you may have missed the flight pattern, so don’t be reluctant to shift your focus.
On incoming birds, your best opportunity is to shoot them as they come in, with the shotgun at no more than a 44-degree angle to the ground.
Optimally, you should wait until the last moment, then raise the gun and fire as quickly as possible.
The ones that surprise you by coming from behind must be taken even more quickly; add in reaction time and such birds are out of range unless you can get on them fast.
I find that my second most common error comes from simply raising the shotgun and firing, without properly seating the gun to my shoulder and getting my head down on the stock–especially on those birds that seem to come out of nowhere.
Concentrate on mounting the gun smoothly and getting your head down on the stock as your eyes and hands begin swinging with the bird.
Everyone is most likely to miss by shooting behind the bird. How much lead depends on distance, wind, and speed of the swing, so there are no absolutes.
But if you’re missing, chances are you’re either stopping your swing or not leading enough. Both mean you’ll shoot behind the bird.
On a windy day in Sonora, I found myself needing fully six feet of lead on crossing shots with the wind–and the birds weren’t all that far away!
The scene of my first-ever dove hunt was one of those crowded fields where you have to root for a bird to get by everyone else so you can shoot it. The slow, the stupid and the unwary fell from the sky long before they got to within 100 yards of the knoll where I sat, partially hidden under the branches of a tree.
The doves I shot at streaked by with their eyes and their throttles wide open. Up to that day, the only birds I had ever seen over a shotgun rib were ringneck pheasants clambering up and away over the cornfields. Nothing in my experience prepared me for the stream of tiny gray bullets zipping overhead.
Experts, of course, brag about shooting a limit of doves “inside a box,” taking 10, 12 or 15 birds with one box of shells or less. So it’s my duty to tell you that on that very first dove hunt, 25 years ago, I easily bagged my limit inside a box.
Unfortunately, it was one of those big boxes that hold 10 smaller 25-round boxes of shells.
There’s no question doves make one of the toughest targets in the sky. Ammo companies estimate hunters shoot five times for each bird they bag. I’ve improved my average a good deal since that first hunt years ago. You can too.
Becoming a better dove shot began, of course, earlier this summer, when you put in your time shooting skeet and sporting clays (you did, didn’t you?). Nevertheless, the transition from clay targets to real birds can be a rocky one come opening day.
It’s not so much that doves are fast; in fact, serious clay target competitors tell me they often shoot in front of live birds after a summer of clay birds. The problem is, clay targets fly straight paths while doves juke all over the sky.
Clay target shooting sharpens your hand/eye coordination and builds solid shooting form, but it can make you a little complacent, too.
After a summer of target shooting, when you look at the dove and judge its line of flight, you assume it’s going to keep going the same direction at the same speed. When the dove changes direction, it leaves your muzzle hanging in space, pointed yards away from where it needs to be.
What’s worse, many hunters treat smoothbores as if they were anti-aircraft weapons, mounting the gun, aiming down the rib and tracking the bird as it comes into range.
The longer you track a dove and the more carefully you measure your lead, the greater the chance you’ll slow or stop your swing or that the bird will dodge out of harm’s way. Instead, think “eyes to the target, hands to the target”–in that order. Lock your eyes onto the dove as it comes to you, but don’t budge the gun until you’re ready to shoot.
Rather than leaping to your feet while the bird’s still a way out, it’s often best to wait until the dove is right on top of you before making a move.
As you mount the gun, your first move should be with the muzzle, sweeping it along the dove’s line of flight and holding slightly below the bird so you don’t obstruct your view of the target.
Raise the butt as the muzzle moves with the target, and shoot the instant the pad hits your shoulder. It’s a short, compact move.
On the close shots, you won’t be aware of leading the bird at all; you’ll be shooting as the barrel passes the beak. If your eyes remain locked firmly on the dove’s head, your hands and the gun will follow to the right place automatically even if the dove pulls a last-second evasive maneuver.
On shots that require short leads, simply flick your eyes ahead of it at the last second, and the gun will follow.
Pretend the bird has a dollar bill in its beak, and make that your target.
Doves crossing in the distance require a slightly different technique. Rather than swinging through the bird, insert the muzzle ahead of it. You still move the barrel along the bird’s flight line as you raise the gun, but your target becomes an invisible, moving spot two or three feet ahead of the dove.
Don’t try to measure the lead; just get the muzzle out in front of it, and good things will probably happen.
Overhead doves present a shot that looks much more difficult than it actually is, and it impresses bystanders when you pluck a bird from what seems to be the stratosphere.
A dove over your head appears much farther away than it actually is, just as the moon looks huge when it’s touching the horizon yet seems smaller and smaller as it climbs into the open night sky.
The overhead shot used to give me fits, until the day I was fortunate enough to find myself crouched behind a levee at the edge of Uruguayan cornfield. Spot-wing pigeons (think “doves on steroids”) flew over me in waves, and I’d hide behind the levee until they were right overhead, then stand to shoot.
From that afternoon on, the overhead shot has been my favorite.
Most of the time, birds that are overhead don’t require much forward allowance at all. Swing the gun fast along its line of flight, and when the bird disappears behind the muzzle, shoot.
Don’t peek around the barrel at it to measure lead. Just blot the bird out, pull the trigger and keep swinging.
Do it right, and you’ll be rewarded with a gasp of awe from the onlookers, and a bird that folds cleanly and takes forever, it seems, to fall to the ground.
Make sure your eyes stay on that bird as it falls and hits the ground. Downed doves can be difficult to find, and there’s no point in shooting birds you can’t recover. Marking fallen birds is a dove hunting skill as essential as hitting them in the first place.
Watch the bird fall, and don’t take your eyes off the spot where you saw it auger in. Your eyes will fix on a particular weed or tall stem. Walk straight to it without ever looking away, and don’t even think of shooting at another bird until you’ve recovered the one you just shot.
Also pay attention to where the birds killed by the shooters to your right and left fall. It’s much easier to find a dead dove if you have two separate fixes on its location and can triangulate.
While retrievers will find birds you cannot, get a good mark on the dove’s fall even if you have your dog along. Dogs don’t last long in the heat, and the rank greenery of late summer presents difficult scenting conditions for the keenest of noses.
The best dove hunt I was ever on took place in a field where the owner had planted scraggly strips of sunflowers spaced widely across bare, disked earth. When you dropped a dove, it fell to the ground with a little puff of dust. I don’t believe I lost a bird in two days of tremendous shooting.
Finally, recovering birds begins before you pull the trigger. If you don’t know where a bird will fall, or if you see that it will drop somewhere it will be difficult to find, don’t shoot. There will be another bird along in a minute.
Dove hunting may be more about shooting than hunting, but if you use a little field-craft to hide from birds, you’ll get easier opportunities. A dove that never knows you’re there is much, much easier to shoot than a bird making a wide detour around you. I would recommend you be attentive to the following bonus dove hunting and tactics.
Don’t silhouette yourself. Sit in the shadow of a tree, or kneel by a fenceline, or use a tall stand of corn or sunflowers to your back to break up your outline. Take a small portable blind or some camo netting to the field. Don’t stand until you’re ready to shoot.
Hide too well, though, and you can’t see the birds coming. On an Ohio dove hunt a few years ago, a friend and I sat in the shadow of a long strip of cut corn with the tall standing stalks at our backs for cover.
We were well hidden from the doves; the problem was when birds came in from behind us low over the tassels, we couldn’t see them until they flashed over our heads. Most of them were gone before we could react.
We left the standing corn, walked out into the middle of the cut strip and laid on the ground in the stubble, facing in opposite directions. The birds scooting in low over the ground never knew we were there until we sat up to shoot.
It was like a field duck hunt in fast motion, with birds coming in at every conceivable angle and flaring wildly if we missed with our first shot. I don’t think I killed my limit inside a box that day, but there was no time to count shells, and I was having way too much fun to care.
Becoming a better dove shot is, of course, a highly commendable goal, but it shouldn’t become an end unto itself. Let the other hunters hoard their ammunition, cherry picks the easy shots and brag about how much fun they had not shooting.
Dove hunting isn’t about bird-to-shell ratios, it’s a 21-gun salute to the promise of another fall. After all, who cares if it takes more than 25 shells to properly ring in the hunter’s New Year?