These are the Reasons your Ears are Ringing After Shooting a Gun

These are the Reasons your Ears are Ringing After Shooting a Gun

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Brian Humenuk | Author | COPJOT


By Brian Humenuk, MS|CJA, COPJOT  

Updated on January 20, 2023

⏱️ 3-minute read


The thrill and exhilaration of shooting a gun can often be accompanied by an unwanted side effect: ears ringing after the shot.

Are your ears ringing after shooting? Have you suffered hearing loss after shooting?

This phenomenon, while common, can indicate potential damage to the delicate structures of the inner ear.


Your ears may be telling you it’s time to upgrade your hearing protection / gun range earmuffs.

In this article, I deep dive into why your ears may be ringing after shooting a gun, the potential for hearing loss, and most importantly, strategies to prevent this occurrence.


I will suggest considerations for upgrading your hearing protection.

If you are new to COPJOT and me as an author please check out my other articles here at the blog index.


If you are into law enforcement gear and equipment you will undoubtedly want to check out my master index of gear guides, tips and reviews.

Be sure to read this article next that has a lot of great information about range earmuffs.

what are the best earmuffs for police range training

Let’s dive in.

Why do Ears Ring After Shooting a Gun?

When a firearm is discharged, it produces an intense sound wave, measured in decibels (dB), which can exceed 140 dB depending on the caliber and type of gun.

This sudden and high-intensity noise can overwhelm the auditory system, causing temporary or even permanent damage to the sensitive hair cells within the cochlea, a spiral-shaped structure in the inner ear responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain.

The result is often ears ringing after shooting, a condition known as tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus?

According to The National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders, Tinnitus is a condition characterized by the perception of sound in the ears or head when no external sound source is present.

This phantom noise can manifest as ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, or other sounds and can vary in intensity and duration.

Tinnitus is often associated with underlying hearing loss or damage to the auditory system, but it can also result from other factors such as exposure to loud noises, ear infections, or certain medical conditions.

The Mechanism of Ears Ringing After Shooting

To understand why ears ring after shooting a gun, it's essential to grasp the mechanism behind tinnitus. When exposed to loud noises, such as gunfire, the hair cells in the cochlea become overstimulated and may sustain damage.

This damage can lead to a disruption in the normal neural signals sent to the brain, resulting in the perception of sound when no external sound is present, hence the ringing in the ears.

Can I suffer Hearing Loss after Shooting a Gun?

Ears ringing after shooting a gun should not be taken lightly, as it can be an early warning sign of potential hearing loss.

Prolonged exposure to high-intensity noise, such as gunfire, can cause irreversible damage to the hair cells in the cochlea, leading to permanent hearing impairment. It's critical to address tinnitus promptly and take proactive measures to protect one's hearing.

Special attention for law enforcement officers and military personnel.

Hearing loss after shooting a gun is a significant concern, particularly for law enforcement officers and military personnel who frequently encounter loud firearms in their line of duty.

The intense sound waves produced by gunfire can cause temporary or permanent damage to the delicate structures of the inner ear, leading to hearing impairment over time.

For individuals in professions that involve frequent firearm use, such as police officers and soldiers, the risk of hearing loss is heightened, highlighting the importance of prioritizing proper hearing protection measures.

Neglecting to use adequate ear protection during shooting activities can result in irreversible damage to the auditory system, impacting communication, situational awareness, and overall job performance.

Therefore, it is important for law enforcement officers and military personnel to prioritize their hearing health by consistently using high-quality earmuffs or earplugs specifically designed for shooting, along with implementing other preventive measures to mitigate the risk of hearing loss.

How to Stop Ringing in Ears after Shooting?

Fortunately, there are several effective strategies to prevent ears ringing after shooting and mitigate the risk of hearing loss. The following are solutions to prevent ears ringing after Shooting.

Solutions to Prevent Ears Ringing After Shooting

Proper Hearing Protection

Investing in high-quality earmuffs or earplugs specifically designed for shooting is paramount.

I encourage you to read my article "The BEST Earmuffs for Police Range Training? (Pro Guide)." In this article I give you personal first hand knowledge about the Earmuffs that will assist you with reducing or even eliminating ringing ears at the gun range.

Proper earmuffs and earplugs are engineered to reduce the intensity of loud noises while still allowing the wearer to hear essential sounds, such as spoken commands or approaching footsteps.

Ensure that the earmuffs or earplugs have a high noise reduction rating (NRR) of 25 dB or more to provide adequate protection against gunfire.

Double Up on Protection

For maximum protection, consider using both earmuffs and earplugs simultaneously, a practice known as double hearing protection.

This dual-layered approach significantly reduces the risk of overexposure to loud noises, minimizing the chances of ears ringing after shooting.

There are two soft foam ear plugs that I have tried and work well with both being over 30 dB. They are the following:

1. Lenicany soft ear plugs for shooting and loud noises with an SNR up to 35 dB.

2. Mack's Maximum Protection for shooting with an SNR up to 33dB.

Take Regular Breaks

Limit the duration of shooting sessions and take regular breaks to give your ears time to recover from the loud noises.

Prolonged exposure to gunfire without sufficient rest can increase the risk of tinnitus and hearing loss.

Monitor Noise Levels

Be mindful of the noise levels in your shooting environment and take proactive measures to minimize exposure to loud noises whenever possible.

Avoid shooting in enclosed spaces or reverberant environments, as these can amplify the intensity of the gunshot noise.

Pay Attention - Don't become complacent 

One problem I have is when I am at the range and I am waiting for another shooting line to finish I sometimes get complacent and lift my ear protection to have conversations with other officers. I usually pay for this really quickly. 

Don't be complacent. Conversations can wait. Keep your ear protection on even when you are waiting to change lines.

How Long Does Ears Ringing Last After Shooting?

The duration of ears ringing after shooting a gun can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the intensity and duration of the exposure to loud noises, individual susceptibility to tinnitus, and whether proper hearing protection was used.

In most cases, temporary tinnitus may resolve within a few hours to days following a shooting session. However, if the ringing persists or worsens over time, it may indicate underlying hearing damage requiring medical attention.

About the Author

Brian Humenuk isn't just an entrepreneur in eCommerce, he is also an informed leader whose experience provides followers and visitors with a look into current and past police issues making headlines in the United States.

Brian has earned three degrees in Criminal Justice with the last, a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.

Brian extends his training, education, and experience to the officers just now getting into the field so that they may become more informed police officers and stay clear of police misconduct and corruption. 

You can find out more about Brian and the COPJOT story on the ABOUT US page.


Affiliate Disclosure

COPJOT is supported by its audience. If you make a purchase through links on this site I may earn a small affiliate commission. Enough to buy myself a small coffee and I want to thank you in advance. 

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