I trust that by now you’ve realized that deafness is no fun. The best way not to find out for yourself is to wear hearing protection. But all hearing protection is not created equal.
Earplugs are better than nothing, but not by much. The ones that do any good are the kind that are molded to your ear by an audiologist. Headphones are much better. The ones I’ve used for the past 15 years or so are the Peltor Tactical Pro, which are rated to 26db and are equipped with speakers so you can hear range commands and other important stuff. They list for $226, which is a lot, but they’re very effective. (There is an outfit called earplugstore.com in Oklahoma that sells them much cheaper.) Or, you can get a $20 headphone and later spend 370 times that amount for hearing aids.
Do not shoot, and do not go within 100 yards of shooting, unless you have your ears on. This includes hunting. An audiologist can make you in-the-ear protectors that amplify normal sounds and block out high-intensity sounds.
Don’t shoot under a covered range if you can possibly avoid it. The roofs amplify sound. Some covered ranges are much worse than others. My home range, at Scarborough, is not bad. The range near Las Vegas where they hold press day for the SHOT Show is absolutely horrific.
If you suspect that you’re deaf, you go to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. He’ll look at your ears, and give you a hearing test, and see if it’s something harmless like ear wax that’s causing the trouble (and it very often is). If you’re really deaf, it’s off to the audiologist for hearing aids.
You don’t have to go to an audiologist. There are plenty of hearing aids you can buy on your own that guarantee to turn your life around for $38.70, or some price like that. If you see the word “miracle” or “miraculous” in the ad copy, you’re about to be taken.
Some audiologists (and hearing-aid makers) will guarantee you a new and wonderful life back among the normal people. The first audiologist I went to back in the mid 1990s was like that. What he sold me was both expensive and a disaster, and when the devices broke I threw them away and said good riddance.
An audiologist who says that he can help you somewhat under some circumstances is the one to listen to. The newest, digital aids can be computer tuned to help make up for what you’ve lost. They get better every year. Unfortunately, they still have a long way to go. Don’t expect a miracle. You’ll some help, depending on how far gone you are, but you’re not going to get your hearing back.
It’s better not to lose it in the first place.