From Longtime Brit Reader Quentin:
How often should you practice shooting without ear protection? Every photograph and video of people practising I’ve seen has people with ear and eye protection. But when necessity strikes, you’re not going to have protection. And if you’re in an enclosed space, can not the sounds and flashes be disorienting? So, how do you prepare for that?
It’s an interesting question, and I must confess that I don’t have the real-world experience to answer it properly: people have only ever shot at me out in the open (earning return fire, so to speak) and while my ears did ring a bit afterwards, it didn’t last long.
Indoors? ‘Nother conversation altogether, I suspect.
My thought is that in a dire self-defense situation, the typical nervous response (tunnel vision, slowed-down time etc.) will tend to muffle or even ignore the sound of gunshots*. Certainly, while hearing damage may well occur in such situations, the perception may not be that disorienting — but I will gladly be corrected by anyone who has been exposed to gunfire in a confined space, e.g. soldiers or policeman, either current or veterans. I do once remember talking to a WWII vet who’d been involved in house-to-house fighting in Italy, and apparently it was a common sight to see men sitting around afterwards, completely deafened, and some men with blood running from their ears.
All that said, however, the immediate answer to “How often should you practice shooting without ear protection?” is, unequivocally, never. Not even out of doors. The damage to one’s hearing is far more critical than practice for a situation which, quite frankly, is statistically rare. Suffering some hearing damage from wasting a goblin in your home is, I would suggest, not important. Deafening yourself unnecessarily is silly. (I have serious tinnitus from decades of unmuffled .22 shooting in the outdoors. Large-caliber indoors shooting practice? I wince at the very thought.)
So, my Readers, what say you?
*The noise of gunfire in an indoor shooting range is different, of course, in that this situation is a non-stress one and using hearing protection is not negotiable