Protecting Your Eyes And Ears
Q: I work at an indoor gun range as a small arms instructor and range master for the U.S. Navy. My job requires me to wear double hearing and impact resistance-type eye protection for 4-8 hours straight, which can be very uncomfortable. I'd like to know if there are any type of hearing and eye protection combos that would be comfortable for me to wear for these long hours of range operation?
-Raymond Mann/Round Lake Beach, IL
A: I'm not sure if you're wearing custom-fit ear plugs, but if you aren't, you should consider them. They're available at most hearing-aid supply stores. There are also some sophisticated plugs that offer digital hearing enhancement. If you need additional hearing protection, you can also wear a set of muffs. My friends and I wear double protection (plugs and muffs) whenever we fire our rifles.
I'm also not sure if you wear glasses. I do and have recently started to wear a great pair of shooting glasses with prescription lenses. If you do wear glasses, I suggest you check out the line of shooting glasses from Sun Buster. This company offers a variety of colored lenses that are easily changed.
You can obtain both custom-molded ear and eye protection from a company called Zacaw Enterprises (visit www.huntingclub.com and click "Featured Links" for contact information). This company offers a line of shooting glasses that have earned the North American Hunting Club Seal of Approval.
I also suggest you look into Walker's Game Ear products, which are products I use often. I've pretty much shot-out my hearing, and cannot suggest strongly enough the need to invest money into hearing and eye protection because there's no comparing the actual protection offered by high-quality molded plugs or muffs against 10-cent pieces of sponge. Hearing loss from shooting is permanent- just ask me. Only please be sure to ask in a loud voice! -Ian McMurchy
Q: I'm considering buying a new shotgun and would like your input on what you think I should buy. Right now, I'm leaning toward a Browning BPS Stalker 10 gauge pump-action. I also like the Remington SP-10 model. I'm new to shotgunning and would like your advice to help me get started. I'll mostly be using the gun while driving deer and hunting them with dogs, so I'll be shooting buckshot and would appreciate any help or suggestions you might be able to provide. Thank you.
-Kyle Stogner/Jefferson, SC
A: Kyle, your choice of a 10 gauge gun for buckshot is a good one, as the big bore provides plenty of room for pellets, tends to pattern easier and recoils less than 3 1/2-inch 12 gauge shotguns. Both the Browning BPS Stalker and the Remington SP-10 are excellent firearms and your choice will likely hinge on several factors.
If weight is an issue, the BPS- a bottom-ejection pump gun- weighs approximately 2 pounds less than the 11-pound SP-10 and also holds one more shell than the three-shot SP-10 autoloader. If recoil is a factor, the SP-10 is a relatively mild shooter due to its weight and efficient gas-operated system. And as you probably already discovered, the SP-10 is at least twice the price of the BPS Stalker. Good luck. -Dave Henderson