Factors Affecting Shooters
Hearing loss may not affect both ears equally. Because of acoustic shadowing by the head, those shooting rifles and shotguns typically suffer greater hearing loss in the ear that is nearest to the muzzle. For a right-handed shooter, the left ear is generally exposed to 3 to 7 dBA more noise than the right ear. Other factors that affect the amount of noise a shooter is exposed to include the barrel length of the firearm (shorter barrels are generally louder), cartridge intensity, bullet speed (subsonic vs. supersonic), and the presence of a muzzle brake, which can add up to an additional 11 dBA. Your shooting environment is also an important consideration. Enclosed areas with hard, acoustically reflective surfaces, such as an indoor shooting range with inadequate sound baffling, increases reverberation and sound exposure. Sound is also directional, so those standing beside a rifle, particularly if that rifle has a muzzle brake, receive considerably more noise exposure than the shooter.