The Rest Of Gun Safety

Good eye and ear protection are must-haves when shooting.

posted on May 6, 2023
Sheriff Jim Wilson

When I am working with a class and about to begin a live-fire drill, I give the command, “Shooter, make ready.” The students have already been told that this means that the first thing we all will do is make sure that our eye and ear protection is in place. We spend a lot of time talking about gun handling safety and often don’t take the time to remind ourselves the importance of protecting our vision and our hearing.

Just about everyone who has spent any time shooting guns knows that various kinds of particles may be blown back towards the shooter. Certainly, shooting at steel targets can cause this, but it might also come from a rock or other hard object in the backstop. We also have to consider the possibility that the gun, itself, might blow up due to an overloaded cartridge or other problem.

Some years ago, I was asked to test the prototype of a semi-auto pistol for the manufacturer. While running the second magazine through the gun, it blew up. I was fortunate that I was not injured at all, but a small speck of metal hit one of the lenses of my shooting glasses. One can imagine what the result might have been if that piece of metal had hit my unprotected eye.

It is just a good idea to wear protective lenses whenever shooting. And this should be the practice not only at the range but while hunting, plinking, or any time we are shooting.

And protecting our hearing is just as important. Hearing loss can be a very gradual process. We might not think that a .22 rifle is all that loud, but it certainly can contribute to the problem.

When I started in police work, you were considered an absolute sissy if you showed up at the range with hearing protection. What a mistake!  And then there were the guys who would stick a cigarette filter or an empty .38 Spl. cartridge in their ears thinking that this would do the job. Another mistake!

Once, during police work, a 12-gauge shotgun was fired near my left ear. And later, on a hunting trip, a .375 H&H was fired near my right ear. So you can understand why you need to speak up if you expect me to hear you, but you sure don’t have to remind me now to put on my hearing protection when we are about to do some shooting.

My advice to young shooters is to always do what it takes to get the best gear possible. And I’m not just talking about guns, ammo, and holsters. Good shooting glasses and ear protection are just as important. Get the best gear available, and use it.


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