Semin Hear 2017; 38(04): 267-281
DOI: 10.1055/s-0037-1606323
Review Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Prevention of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss from Recreational Firearms

Deanna K. Meinke1, Donald S. Finan1, Gregory A. Flamme2, William J. Murphy3, Michael Stewart4, James E. Lankford5, Stephen Tasko2
  • 1Audiology and Speech-Language Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado
  • 2Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • 3Division of Applied Research and Technology, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 4Department of Communication Disorders, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan
  • 5Allied Health and Communication Disorders, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
10 October 2017 (online)


In the United States and other parts of the world, recreational firearm shooting is a popular sport that puts the hearing of the shooter at risk. Peak sound pressure levels (SPLs) from firearms range from ∼140 to 175 dB. The majority of recreational firearms (excluding small-caliber 0.17 and 0.22 rifles and air rifles) generate between 150 and 165 dB peak SPLs. High-intensity impulse sounds will permanently damage delicate cochlear structures, and thus individuals who shoot firearms are at a higher risk of bilateral, high-frequency, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) than peer groups who do not shoot. In this article, we describe several factors that influence the risk of NIHL including the use of a muzzle brake, the number of shots fired, the distance between shooters, the shooting environment, the choice of ammunition, the use of a suppressor, and hearing protection fit and use. Prevention strategies that address these factors and recommendations for specialized hearing protectors designed for shooting sports are offered. Partnerships are needed between the hearing health community, shooting sport groups, and wildlife conservation organizations to develop and disseminate accurate information and promote organizational resources that support hearing loss prevention efforts.