Exposure to high-intensity impulse noise from the recreational use of firearms is a common cause of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Although recreational firearm users who shoot firearms without proper hearing protection are at risk for NIHL, a specific subgroup involved in hunting waterfowl may also be at risk due to their particular shooting habits. The goal of the present study was to investigate the shooting habits of this particular group of U.S. recreational firearm users. A 23-item written survey was sent to waterfowl hunting club members regarding their shooting behaviors, use of hearing protective devices (HPDs), and auditory status. Results indicated that waterfowl hunters in this study typically used large bore semiautomatic shotguns, did not consistently utilize HPDs during target practice or hunting and were exposed to multiple, unprotected shots during the past waterfowl season. Most subjects reported hunting in reverberant acoustic environments (hunting blinds). This group of recreational firearm users also reported high incidences of hearing loss and tinnitus. Information provided by this study may help hearing conservationists and hearing healthcare providers understand and better educate these shooters regarding the risk of acquiring NIHL.
- Hearing conservation
- Hearing loss prevention
- Hearing protection
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Recreational firearm noise exposure