The difference between training and reality

I’m new to the USCCA community and this forum, so I wasn’t sure exactly sure which category this question should be in. I feel like maybe more than one, but here goes.

We all place safety first and foremost when training with our guns and when out in the world. When we are live firing, I’m sure everyone wears hearing protection, for obvious reasons. My question is, what happens if you have to fire your weapon in a self defense situation? Specifically, there is no hearing protection being worn when we’re out and about, so has anyone been through this and can give an idea of the results of firing your gun sans ear plugs/headsets? I’m sure it’s not pleasant but has anyone suffered any short or long term effects?

Thanks for any input.


I have made the mistake of firing a gun without reapplying my ear protection!:flushed::skull:

Reloading, pulled the muffs up to talk to my buddies who were there and reloading as well…

Forgot to pull them back down when I stepped back to the shooting table!

It’s,… loud. As in temporarily all I could hear was a high pitched squeal of tinnitus…

Decades of uncapped headers and rock concerts have me with mild tinnitus anyway, so I can’t say that the few shots I’ve experienced without earplugs had made it any worse.

As for out and about, need to use my weapon in self defense?

The LAST thing that will go through my mind will likely be, “oops i forgot my glasses and earplugs!”

Defend yourself first, worry about the rest of it later,… even permanent hearing loss is better than permanent death.


This is just my personal opinion and should not be taken as legal or medical advice!


I did the same thing. Took a break and forgot to put the earbuds back in. Fired my .38 and yes, it’s loud. I had the loud ringing (tinnitus) for probably 30 seconds and then thankfully it went away. I won’t make that mistake again. And also the same here with the rock concerts, helping hubs with the table saw, planer, etc. But I don’t have tinnitus. That was enough to make me extremely conscious of my ear protection.

I’m guessing that if I need to fire in self defense that my ears will be the last thing on my mind. I do worry about my two little dogs if I would ever need to defend my family at home. But better that I’m alive to care for them. I think they would agree.


Good question!

I read somewhere that loss of hearing, the permanent type, is mostly due to long term exposure to noise. Think garden equipment, power tools, rock concerts.

Eleven years ago, I was a novice gun owner when I went to indoor range without ear protection and was welcomed by the sound of a shotgun. Did the same mistake earlier this year, this time at an outdoor range with four people firing handguns at the same time.
In both cases, there was manageable and short term hearing loss. By the time I was on my way home, I hardly noticed anything.

So, that’s the least of my concerns in a self defense situation.


There was a ND in my house. It was a compact 380 (CZ 27 I think). It was so loud and unexpected that I fainted 45 feet from the ND


Many years ago I had to use my sidearm ( .45ACP 1911A1 ) in defense of others. It was extremely loud, bright and concussive.
Immediately following it was like being 100’ underwater!


WHAT? What did Ronald ask? :rofl:
My belief is if you shoot/Practice outside/Inside, every once
in a while remove the Ear Cans. The Shock N Awe lessens
You get better use to the REAL DEAL!
When faced w/ a SD situation ‘WHO CARES!’ Defend your Family and Self.
Mild temporary discomfort, ringing subsides. But it isn’t new to you.
Situational Awareness
Practice (Trigger time, Grip, Slide operation (or Cylinder filling)
Carry positions, Holster placement
Drawing your weapon , dry firing, SIRT
Muscle Memory reduces the FEAR, Jitters, the what if’s…
When you first drove a car you were Grand Pa Gummer—and now you are Don ‘The Snack’ Prudhomme!
Same goes w/ Weapons Training.
I needed to here the Enemy, Follow the flow of Battle, No time for Cans…
"I said “NO TIME FOR CANS!” :crazy_face: :crazy_face: :crazy_face: :crazy_face: :crazy_face: :crazy_face: :crazy_face:

Good Topic Ronald!
Stay Chocolate Frosty Brother!
adonde nosotros vamos uno nosotros ir todo!!!
Nessun passo sul serpente


Good question friend. Is there an ENT or audiologist doctor in the house?

As one pointed out, the benefits can outweigh the risks. I’m in that camp, it would be so rare, might never happen in one’s life, thus I’ve grown to accept it.

On the plus side, it’s a brief about a one second sound per round. Of course, we must wear ear protection when practicing/range time.

Other examples in life exist from machinery, jet planes, live music concerts, etc.

I noticed immediate problems, but some do go away. I once forgot to use ear protection on a hunt, but good thing it was just one shot, not repetitive.

I imagine some who had to in the military - or- police have some insight.

Good reminder to us all when at range time, or hunting.


You do some amount of damage to your hearing is what happens.

I think most who suffer long term hearing loss don’t realize it until it gets to a certain point, things are cumulative.

A 9mm in a smallish room sounded like I was underwater for the rest of the day. A 9mm outdoors was less bad.

There may be auditory exclusion where you don’t consciously hear it, though the physical effects are still there. It may sound extremely loud. You will likely have some reduction in hearing short term.

People discharge their firearms without hearing protection all the time. Police, military, self defenders, hunters, it’s a thing. Protect your hearing when and where you can, don’t worry about it when you can’t.


Good question! I’m sure that’s something that many of us have wondered about! Honestly I think that if you had to use it the last thing you’d be thinking about is whether or not you’re going to be able to hear afterwards. That being said something I’ve wondered about is whether or not some of those earbud types are worth getting. Granted I don’t listen to music or podcast or whatever when I’m out so I can listen to my surroundings I’ve read some advertised as basically just cancelling certain noises i.e. firing your carry gun. Does anyone have an opinion on that? Good idea? Bad idea?


I hear you, no pun intended.

I used to use regular old fashioned type of ear plugs at range use, but finally paid the little exert for the electric kind which cancels out the louder piercing sounds such a gun fire, but allows me to hear softer sounds like voice and range safety workers.

I have the same feature on my music and cel phone ear bud speakers, kind of a more fancy ear bud, that has about 4-5 options just by tapping it; But it’s not a fire gun fire, not that level of a protectant at all.

However, I try not to use it outdoors, not out of the home or office so that I can still have awareness (no music), plus they sometimes fall right out of the ears and can easily get lost (expensive).

I heard of some wireless electronic and more portable ear plugs (noise canceling for fire arm time use), but kinda expensive for me, and I worry about pain or side effects from wearing them; Still - too easy to lose if using outdoors. IDK.


That is a consideration, it’s part of the dynamics of an otherwise stressful, weird situation. Just got attacked, pulled and fired, perp on the ground, the smell of gun powder, the flash, the bang. And we still need to maintain a certain sense of surroundings and sanity. In the end I guess it comes down to how well we recover from Extreme Sensory Overload. How do we practice that?


Let me add the situation of using your firearm while in your vehicle. If you have never fired in a vehicle, umm, even with ear protection, the concussion and the sound are unbelievable. Without ears, I would hear bells ring for a long while.


I personally wouldn’t consider practicing without hearing protection just to make the training more realistic. Without a suppressor firearms are more than loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage. You may only notice the effects for a short time but eventually all the damage your ears are subjected to will catch up to you permanently.

I have mild tinnitus due to working in a factory in my younger days. It is not debilitating but it is annoying. Wish I knew about the impacts of loud noises back then.

There is the auditory exclusion phenomenon that appears to occur reasonably often in stressful self defense situations making it so some people don’t even hear the sounds of the gun fire. But I have seen no evidence that it protects your ears from damage. It also definitely wouldn’t help protect your hearing in a practice situation.

It is best to avoid loud noises whenever possible. But as others have said, it would be the least of my concerns in a life or death self defense situation. I do keep some electronic muffs near our safe area. But in a home invasion scenario I wouldn’t even think of taking the time to put them on until I had rounded up the family and gotten us all safely behind the locked door in our safe area. And even then I would probably be more interested in their ability to amplify the sounds of the home invaders than their ability to protect my hearing.


@Ronald354 - I will tell you this - you’d better practice to put 2 or 3 precise shots to stop the threat. You will be able to handle 3 “big booms” without hearing protection. Loud, but if you do it quick you won’t suffer any permanent bad effects. You will be fine after few hrs.

As others posted - eyes and ears protection is you last concern in self-defense situation.


It has been alluded to already, but your surroundings greatly affect how loud a gunshot is. I grew up routinely shooting shotguns probably 25 to 50 shots in couple hours outdoors with no hearing protection. I didn’t really notice it. I remember watching an interview with a Mafia hit man, “Ice Man”, and he shot a guy while they were both sitting in a car with the windows closed. He said it was so loud he would never do that again! The bottom line is we unfortunately don’t get to pick the time or place, so sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Regarding electronic earmuffs, I don’t know of any manufactured for shooting that are active noise cancellation design. The Walker’s earmuffs I have incorporate a microphone and amplifier to allow me to hear conversation. When it detects a loud noise, i.e., gunshot, it immediately turns off the amplification and for that moment it becomes an earmuff only. Once the gunshot is over, it turns the amp back on and you can hear conversation again.

Active noise reduction detects noise and generates its own noise at the same frequency of the original noise, but 180 degrees out of phase with the original noise. This works really well for continuous noise like inside a helicopter, plane, or a tank. If anyone knows of a shooting earmuff with active noise cancellation, please post ‘cause I would like to know.


Yep, I’m in the exact same place, for the same reasons. I took my ears for granted. For a while, every Friday night at the drags, down in the pits and right near the line. Dragsters are incredibly loud, and even plugging my ears when they launched didn’t do much. Concerts. Chop saws that are loud as hell, and rifle/shotgun shooting in the old days without hearing protection. Honestly, back then, we didn’t even think of it, we just went shooting.

I always wear my ear protection now, not just shooting, but running the weed whacker, saws, etc, but that’s to save what’s left. If I need my gun in self defense, my hearing is the last thing I’ll ne thinking of at that moment.


I have ringing in both ears because back in the 80s we went shooting without hearing protection. Going in the military and being around jet engines didn’t help matters either. It’s funny though, there is a certain frequency range that I can hear as clear as a bell. My wife can’t hear it but I can from across the room.

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That traffic will eat you up! :joy:


Oh Shyte, I wrote that…‘He liked Twix I heard’. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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