For the Loss of Hearing
Dr. John Woods 03.26.19
We are blessed to have been born with five senses. These visual, auditory, touch, taste, and smell “ceptions” (receptions) all work together to give humans a decidedly keen edge over other animal species without the total package. In order to maximize human sensitivities and awareness we need all these senses to function at peak performance.
Even so, different people argue the ranking of these senses in terms of critical importance to the whole experience of life. Certainly visual is a most desired sense, but I would say that the auditory sense is next. I know because I have lost most of it and it puts me at a decided disadvantage in everyday enjoyment of life and performance.
In 1970 I was drafted into the Vietnam War out of college. When I arrived at the pre-induction center in St. Louis, Mo, I had no idea what was about to happen. I flunked the physical. I had no high frequency hearing in either ear. Why? For years I worked in the family agricultural flying business working around radial aircraft engines without any hearing protection. We didn’t know any better.
Fast forward more than 40 years later and I cannot hear much at all in a crowded room full of background noise and dense conversation. In hunting, I miss a lot of deer steps until they are right on top of me. Same with gobbling turkeys. I learned the lessons of hearing protection the hard way, too late.
At the gun range now, I double up on hearing protection. First I plug in good quality ear foam inserts, then I put on top rated ear muffs. At times I don electronic ear muffs to further control muzzle blast sound, but these also allow me to hear range commands and shooters talking next to me. Wish I had had these devices when I was hearing those Pratt and Whitney 1340 cylinders hum.
As shooter-hunter friend Gary Starkey remarked recently, “Maybe it is normal for guys our age to be losing our hearing, but we both know it started decades ago.” The message to young shooters and hunters today is to use hearing protection every time they go shooting. Some even wear at least foam inserts when they go hunting. That is not a bad idea either.
Like all human senses, you have to preserve them for a lifetime. Be smart and get some hearing protection earmuffs now, before it’s too late. Hearing loss is accumulative, so every little bit of noise works against you.