Hearing Protection during Hunting Season

Most of the hunting/shooting community knows the importance of using hearing protection while on the range.  But not many hunters will use hearing protection while in the field.  We often need to be able to use our ears to detect prey or to make sure we aren’t making noise ourselves.  But at what cost?  Guest blogger John O’Connor offers some insight.

Safe Shooting

Hi my name is John O’Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss.  My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss.  I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can.   

How to Protect Hearing While Hunting

For many, hunting is a fantastic hobby that allows a person to live off the land and spend time with their loved ones.  While hunting can be a fun sport, it is also important to understand just how damaging it can be to a person’s hearing.  Many hunters put most of their emphasis on their guns and the game that they catch, but they may forget about protecting their ears from hearing damage.  In order to ensure that your hearing health is up to par in the future, it is essential that you protect your hearing each time you go out hunting.

Radians Rad Band Banded Hearing Protection $6.22

First, you may be interested to know why hearing loss is so common amongst hunters.  The reason for this is simply because some hunters use guns without using ear protection or are not using the proper hearing protection when hunting.  The loud noise that guns make when they are fired can drastically damage hearing and cause hearing loss over a period of time. My father who is now in his late 70’s has been an avid hunter for years.  He often times neglected his hearing while out in the woods and now uses a hearing aid to help increase his hearing levels. Although he still finds time to get out to the range he always makes sure he has the proper hearing protection with him to protect his ears from further damage. If you notice that you constantly use your gun while hunting without wearing ear protection, you are putting your hearing at risk.  There is also another thing that you should consider if you are going hunting with family members and friends.

3M Peltor Combat Arms Earplugs $12.84

All of your loved ones should also be wearing some type of hearing protection while they are in the wilderness with you.  You don’t have to be the one to fire the gun to get severe hearing damage.  If you have children or teenagers with you, it is imperative that you protect their hearing every single time that they come hunting with you.  You can do this by visiting a local pharmacy or by looking in your local sporting goods store to find the best type of hearing protection available.  Most hearing protection products are cheap and easy to wear while hunting for game.

3M Peltor Optime 98 Earmuff $13.81 on Amazon

There are a couple of options available to you if you make the decision that you need to wear hearing protection.  Your first option is to buy a pack of earplugs from your local pharmacy.  Earplugs are great because they insert right into the ear canal and stay put for as long as you need them to be there.  They reduce the amount of noise that would have reached your eardrum, causing damage and hearing loss over time.  Earplugs are great for people who want something small and convenient.  You can also invest in noise-reducing headphones that can be found in your nearby sporting goods store.  These will be a little more expensive, but are a good investment for those who want something more long lasting.

MSA Safety Works 10087625 Foam Ear Plugs $13.08 for 80 pairs

Your hearing is such a precious thing and is often taken for granted every single day.  Even if you don’t want to protect your hearing in other areas of your life, at least consider wearing ear protection when firing guns and hunting.  You should also have everyone else in your hunting party wear some type of hearing protection as well to ensure that everyone enjoys the hobby to its full extent.

Howard Leight R-01526 Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff $43.59

When someone in my group is shooting and I am not, I will always plug my ears with my fingers.  If we are hunting from a blind and I have the time and space to put earmuffs on before shooting I will do that as well.  If you don’t want to limit your ability to hear your game while hunting, a great option is to use electronic ear muffs.  Electronic muffs have a microphone on the outside that allows you to hear sounds with low amplification (conversations, movement) but will automatically turn off loud noises, such as blasts from guns!  I have a pair and I love them.  I find I can actually hear things better while wearing them, which is kind of neat!  And there are some cheap options at your local shooting or sporting goods store!  

Thanks for reading and stay safe this hunting season!

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Day at the Range

Wow, what a great day at the shooting range! We finally found an outdoors range in the Valley. Before we were going to Hole in the Wall which is an indoor range. It’s a nice place but all 5 lanes are always full and it’s very tight quarters. Not to mention you can’t move up and down the range, you can only move your target up and down. But when D’s friend told us about this off of Hwy 100 in Los Fresnos, we were in!  It’s a simple but spacious set-up.  2 handgun ranges with several target stands, and 1 rifle range.  You pay $10 for the day.  Easy!

Shooting Range Los Fresnos, TX

Shooting the Springfield XDM .40 semi-auto is so much fun!

We shots lots of guns today. S&W .38 Special (my CC snubnose revolver), Ruger .357 (Drew’s CC revolver), Springfield XDM .40 (Drew’s newest pistol), AR-15 rifle, and a few of other people’s guns. One of my favorite things about going to a big range is talking with other people and sharing experiences.

Shooting Range women's holsters

D brought a friend who is new to handgun shooting so they focused on the basics. That gave me the opportunity to practice drawing my .38 from my holsters. I reminded myself that I really don’t like my inside-the-waistband holster.  It does NOT work with my curves and sticks out way too much as you can see in the picture above.   I just tossed it aside.

This is me practicing drawing and shooting from my Flashbang.

I really focused on drawing from my Flashbang. At first I wasn’t even hitting the target at 7 yards but I finally got a flow down and began to hit it continually. I learned that I should not even try to draw and shoot a person-sized target any further than 10 yards. And in a real-life situation 10 yards would be enough for me to escape danger. But inside 5 yards? I can confidently say I can eliminate a threat! That’s a great feeling. You just can’t figure these things out in an indoor range.

Shooting from the Flashbang Holster

Above is a quick video of me drawing and shooting from my Flashbang. That goofy grin on my face at the end was because I hit the target close the the bullseye!  Let me tell you, the Flashbang always gets attention at the range!  Most people are fascinated with how it works because they’ve never seen any holster like it.  I love to watch jaws drop when I draw my .38 from my bra!  By the way, ladies, if you are single and looking for a guy at the range, use the Flashbang!  It’s the easiest way to strike up a conversation and grab the attention of all the men around you!  I’m lucky I’ve already grabbed a man that knows his way around a gun 😉

After shooting a ton of rounds through our handguns we moved over to the rifle range for some AR-15 fun!

The Rifle range with our targets at 50 yards.

Once D sighted in the AR-15 we had a great time shooting at a 50-yard target.

Shooting our AR-15, another really fun gun!

Just using the iron sights (and not a scope) seems a little intimidating at first because you feel like you can’t see anything but once you shoot and see how you did, micro-adjustments can get you shooting in the right spot.  The gun range had home-made shooting bags- made of old pants legs!  How genius is that?!

Shooting Target AR15

I was very happy with my target after shooting the AR.  It’s such a great feeling to hit that bullseye at 50 yards with no scope!  Now I just need to get the chance to use the AR on a hog!  Another guy at the range was practicing with  his AK-47 and he let us try it out. That was a first for both of us!

I couldn’t quite figure out how to use that collapsible stock on the AK-47.

Shooting Range AK-47

Drew showing me how it’s done.

I only took 2 shots and it wasn’t particularly different feeling than the AR-15. But I did pretty well for standing at 50 yards with iron sights!  Guess what gun just got added to our wishlist…

My two shots with the AK-47! Very happy with those shots!

It was such a beautiful day I’m glad we got to go out and shoot. With every visit to the range I get more and more confident with my gun and that’s a great feeling.  I would love for other people to experience that feeling!

What I’m Wearing

Why I’m Getting Starbucks on Valentine’s Day

This article on the National Gun Victim’s Action Council (NGVAC)’s proposed boycott on Starbucks is quickly spreading through Facebook and Twitter. The advocacy group wants stricter gun laws in the US. Starbucks allows open- and concealed-carry of handguns in states that allow it. Starbucks has been asked and petitioned to ban the carrying of guns in their stores but they continue to stand by their policy of allowing legal carry of firearms, and reminding people that the focus of the company is to run coffee stores, not write legislature. The NGVAC is proposing a boycott of Starbucks starting February 14 to show their desire for the company to ban guns in stores. They even use the photo at the top of this post to show what a group of open-carry advocates look like and then reference the gun that the Tuscon shooter used in the mass shooting last year. Now I don’t know about you but in my eyes there is a HUGE difference in the men peacefully gathered in that photo and the mentally-ill shooter that targeted congresswomen Giffords at that Safeway. The Outdoor and Women’s Outdoor Sports blogs I follow have been talking about this boycott and suggesting that we, as a community of people who enjoy shooting sports and the right to carry, should in fact support Starbucks as they stand by second-amendment rights.  We should not let fear overtake common sense.  I took a minute to contact Starbucks and literally all I wrote in the comment box was “Thank you for supporting second amendment rights and my right to carry and protect myself!” I was surprised but happy to see this email show up in my inbox the next day:

Dear Christine,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

Thank you for your feedback regarding Starbucks’ policy on open carry laws.

At Starbucks, we deeply respect the views of our customers and recognize that there is significant and genuine passion surrounding the issue of open carry weapons laws. We comply with local laws and statutes in the communities we serve. Our long-standing approach to this issue remains unchanged and we abide by the laws that permit open carry in 43 U.S. states. Where these laws don’t exist, openly carrying weapons in our stores is prohibited.

As the public debate around this issue continues, we encourage customers and advocacy groups from both sides to share their input with their public officials. We are extremely sensitive to the issue of gun violence in our society and believe that supporting local laws is the right way for us to ensure a safe environment for both partners and customers.

If you have any further questions or concerns that I was unable to address, please feel free to let me know.

Warm Regards,

Kelsey F
Customer Relations
Starbucks Coffee Company
800 STARBUC (782-7282)
Monday through Friday, 5AM to 8PM (PST)

Well said, Starbucks. Oon February 14, I will treat myself by going to Starbucks on the way to work to get my favorite drink, Iced Vanilla Latte.  If you are a supporter of the right to carry, I hope you will too.

Flashbang Holster Review

**Warning: This post may contain pictures not suitable for children or work environments (bra pictures).  Use your own discretion.**  

Photos are for educational use on my blog only and may not be copied without my permission (but feel free to share the link to my blog post).  All opinions are my own and I was not contacted by or compensated by the makers of this product.

I got my new revolver a few months ago and I’ve been practicing at the range but I hadn’t had a reason to have a holster until my Concealed Handgun License came in. And last week, it finally did! After 10 hours of classwork, 2 tests, fingerprints, background checks, and a ton of paperwork, I can finally legally carry my revolver! So I needed a holster. Hubby bought me one similar to his, an in-the-waistband (IWB) holster. I tried it out but it ALWAYS showed. My mid-section has a lot more curves than his and the gun just stands out in a fitted shirt. I assumed most women carried small and slim semi-automatic handguns and I had made the wrong choice when I picked out a revolver. But then I started to do a little research and when I read about the Flashbang, I was smitten!  The Flashbang is a holster made to fit onto/under your bra!  I ordered it from Lopoer Law Enforcement and it took forever to get here. I guess they are a small operation but I was a little disappointed with how long it took. Nevertheless, it made it to my house!

Here is the Flashbang with 2 extra straps to adjust for different bras.  You can change out the straps by using a screwdriver and it’s very simple.  Also pictured is my S&W .38 special (model 642) and I luvs it.  Note: the snaps are INCREDIBLY hard to snap and un-snap when you first get your holster.  It will take about 5 times snapping and unsapping before it is loosened up enough to be able to do so quickly when you are putting the holster on.   It will loosen, you just have to really bow up on it and work it out at first.  Like really, I had to use our table and a lever (flathead screwdriver) the first few times!  Once it’s loosened it will easily snap on and off but not so easily that you risk the holster coming off once it’s on.  There is also no risk of the holster coming off when you draw.  It’s really an amazingly designed holster.

Here is the view of the other side of the holster, the side that will rest against your body.  It’s a strong and smooth yet thin holster.  My .38 (which is a J-frame) revolver fits perfectly and snugly.

Here is the holster in place.  I HIGHLY recommend using the smallest strap possible to prevent the holster from moving around.  I wore it for a week with the longer strap and it moved around when I would bend forward.  Now that I switched to the medium strap it’s perfectly snug and doesn’t move.   Another important tip is to tuck the barrel side UNDER your bra.  Now every girl is going to be different but if you are large-chested like I am, its most comfortable with your holster resting under your breast.  It takes a day or so of getting used to but once you have the correct strap length, it won’t move and you start to forget it’s there.  By the way, it’s really fun to practice drawing my revolver from this holster because if you do it quickly it makes this awesome *clack* sound!  I can’t decide if that would be a pro or con if you were in a situation where you had to defend yourself, but I think it would be a pro!  It could certainly throw someone off!

I’m wearing the holster and gun here in a shiny shirt and there is no evidence of anything under my shirt.  This is because you are hiding the holster under the center of the bra, which is usually not seen through even tight shirts.

Again, no sign of the holster.  I even asked my husband (who knew I’d gotten my holster in the mail) if he noticed or felt (when we hugged) anything different and he was clueless, haha!

From the side, no sign of the holster.  By the way the only editing I did was to block out a company logo 😛

Here is how  I normally wear the holster, with the handle out and down.  I can QUICKLY and easily draw my pistol like this.  Now this is an example of the tightest shirt I own, a cami/undershirt.  In this shirt the butt of the handle does stick out a little bit.

You can see the butt of the handle sticking out on the left side of my body here.  It just looks like a fold in my clothing but it is noticeable.

Again, the butt of the gun is barely sticking out on the left side of my body in this picture.

You can barely see the gun in this picture as well.  But there is an easy solution if this bothers you when wearing tight shirts…

I would just slide the handle of the gun under the other side of my bra.  I haven’t gone all day like this yet (I usually don’t wear super tight clothing without something else over it) but it felt fine.

And you can see: no evidence of the gun.
I should also mention how the draw works. The holster is like a clamshell in that you pull the gun DOWN to draw. It’s quite simple and smooth.

Overall, I’m REALLY happy with my holster!  I’ve been wearing it regularly with few problems.  I will have to shove it back under my bra once or twice a day because it does like to work its way out when I’m moving big bags of soil or loading stuff into a truck.  It gets a little sweaty (just like the rest of me) when I’m working outside but there’s no getting around that.  I’m thinking about covering the part of the holster that rests against my body with some moleskin to see if it decreases the sweaty feeling.  But it’s certainly tolerable and definitely worth it  knowing I have a way to defend myself at all times.  I really like my new holster and I especially like being able to carry all the time!  The only situation I could see not carrying with the Flashbang would be when I’m wearing a long dress in which case I would want a thigh holster.  So I am a very satisfied customer.  I hope this helps if anyone out there is looking at buying this holster and I will try to answer any questions you might have!  Thanks!

**UPDATE** March 2012 ** I’m still wearing my Flashbang on a regular basis and I still LOVE it!  I made a post about going to the range and using it here: https://beatuproadsign.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/day-at-the-range/