Do you need to wear hearing protection when using an airgun? They might not seem loud, but you don’t want to risk damaging you ears… Mike Morton investigates!
Most legal-limit airguns, whether they’re PCP, spring, gas-ram or CO2-powered, don’t usually generate enough noise to be harmful to your hearing. However, if you shoot at FAC levels then I strongly advise you to consider wearing hearing protection.
Nevertheless, even sub-12 ft lb rifles are capable of generating uncomfortable levels of noise, particularly those using air strippers. Used outdoors, strippers don’t appear to be that loud, but they can produce a noticeably loud bark when shot at an indoor range. Strippers are the airgun world’s equivalent of a muzzle brake.
And if you ever shoot felt cleaning pellets, such as those from VFG, then hearing protection is a must, especially if they are being used indoors. Any sound that makes your ears ring can’t be good for you. Hearing damage is permanent.
You should also consider the environment in which you’re shooting. Are you going to be shooting indoors at a club where someone else might be using an air stripper? Are you going to be shooting at a club which mixes airguns and rimfires? If wearing hearing protection isn’t already a mandatory club rule, you should treat it as such and protect yourself.
My preference is to wear in-ear protection around air rifles and sub-sonic .22 LR rimfires, and over-ear protection if you’re shooting alongside any powder-burners using supersonic ammo.