The Hunting/Hearing Conundrum

Judy Huch
September 20, 2016

This is post #2 for Guest Blogger Patty Johnson, who wrote previously about the complicated relationship between hunting and hearing.  In today’s post, Dr. Johnson gives practical information and advice for those who love to hunt but also love to hear.


Patty Tillman Johnson AuD

Patty Tillman Johnson AuD

Patty Johnson received her Master’s Degree in Audiology from the University of Iowa and her AuD from Salus University. Her professional experience includes pediatric and educational audiology, industrial hearing conservation, university teaching and private practice. For the past 17 years she has been a research audiologist at Etymotic Research, Inc., where she participates in research, education, technical writing and new product development.

The Hunting/Hearing Conundrum


Those who shoot or hunt regularly without hearing protection are almost certain to develop tinnitus and hearing loss unless they wear hearing protection. Shooting guns requires hearing protection but passive earplugs and earmuffs reduce all sounds–even the quiet sounds that hunters need to hear. Hunting safely requires hearing! What to do?


Here’s How to Have It All


Today’s most advanced hearing protection solves both problems, allowing hunters to hear the snap of twigs and the rustle of leaves as if nothing were in the ears, while providing instantaneous blast protection when guns are fired. GunSport PRO® (GSP-15®) High-Definition Electronic Earplugs from Etymotic Research are designed for gun sport enthusiasts in the field or at the range where enhanced awareness, clear communication, and blast protection are needed. These active hearing protectors allow quiet and moderate sounds to pass through as though nothing is in the ears, provide 15 dB of adaptive attenuation for continuous loud sound, and  provide 35-42 dB instantaneous peak reduction  for blast sounds such as gunfire, .  with no need to adjust or remove them.The GSP-15s also have a switch for hearing enhancement mode, which amplifies quiet sounds up to 5X. The GSP-15  comes with a variety of eartip styles and sizes so users can obtain a snug, comfortable fit regardless of ear canal size. A lightweight cord keeps the earplugs around the neck when not in use. GSP-15, , like all electronic hearing protection, operates using small hearing aid batteries (size 312 zinc air),with a typical battery life of 2-3 weeks continuous operation.

In comparison to other active HPDs (hearing protection devices), the GSP-15 provides the best sound detection and localization capabilities on the market, which means you’ll hear your prey, hunting dogs, and other hunters better. Many hunters already have some hearing loss, and could use some help hearing quiet sounds in the field. The switch on the GSP-15 allows users to toggle between natural and 5X enhanced hearing, as the user deems necessary.

You can purchase GunSport PRO earplugs direct from the manufacturer and at other retailers. 


How Long Have These Been Available? Who Developed Them?


For the past 30 years, Etymotic Research has designed innovative products to measure, enhance and protect hearing. Dr. Mead Killion, president and founder of Etymotic Research, became interested in designing electronic hearing protection in response to reports of an alarmingly high percentage of US soldiers suffering hearing damage and tinnitus due to blasts from weapons, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), artillery fire and noise from combat vehicles and aircraft. Although hearing protection is available, most warriors decline to wear it because it interferes with situational awareness.

In 2009, Etymotic Research designed EB15 BlastPLG® earplugs, which protect against high-level blasts, yet don’t interfere with the ability to hear soft sounds. Several scientific studies confirmed these earplugs provide better auditory awareness and blast protection than other current devices. In 2011, Etymotic’s BlastPLG earplugs received the inaugural Design and Engineering Innovations Award in the Health and Wellness category from the Consumer Electronics Association.

The BlastPLG devices had obvious applications for gun sports, which led to the development of the GunSport PRO earplugs.

CES Innovation Award


Here’s to Your Happy, Safe and Successful Hunt!

Life is short; do what you love. If what you love is shooting and hunting, protect your hearing, because life with tinnitus and hearing loss isn’t nearly as much fun. A small investment in the best hearing protection will add years of life to your ears. And because the GSPs reduce the blast, you’re less likely to flinch, which will improve your accuracy. I can’t make any guarantees, but maybe that big buck will be yours this year. Life is worth hearing; protect and enhance yours with the GunSport PROs. Good luck and shoot safe!

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