I am very particular about protecting my ears to avoid the health problems associated with hearing loss. Studies show that hearing loss is linked to dementia, and increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Hunters are among the least careful about this issue, with nearly 90 percent admitting to not wearing ear protection.
“It’s just one shot.” I’ve been told this so many times that I have to try not to roll my eyes every time. Yes, it may just be one shot, but it can cause damage that lasts forever. I’m not willing to take that risk. I’ve always worn custom plugs while hunting. While they canceled out sound well, they made it difficult to hear the noises around me and communicate with my hunting party. I found myself talking louder and crashing through leaves, unaware that I was doing so due to my hearing protection. Other times, I’d try to put the plugs in right before I pulled the trigger. However, this caused extra movement, and I was unable to focus on the shot, because I was busy worrying about the plugs first.
Tetra has taken hearing protection to an entirely new level, striving to not only protect hearing but to enhance an individual’s ability to perform in the field and on the range. Tetra has several options, but the Specialized Target Optimization (STO) is the main claim to fame. These plugs actually enhance certain sounds. Different modes allow for different sounds to be more easily heard. For clay target shooters, being able to pick up the sound of the thrower allows for faster target acquisition. For hunters, being able to pick up turkey gobbles or the clanking of deer antlers changes the game.
Turkey hunting in Nebraska this spring was my first opportunity to try Tetra. They arrived in a thin plastic hardcase for protection, with a small pouch and belt hook for easy carry while hunting, traveling, etc. As soon as my CustomShield plugs arrived, I slipped them in my ears, curious to experience the innovation for myself. A dial on the side of each colored earpiece (to differentiate between left and right) adjusts the overall volume and has a turn to off feature. Pressing another button on each piece changes the mode. Mine have modes for turkey, deer, range and clear communications. Each is designed to optimize different sounds.
At first it was a tad strange to hear background sounds more clearly than you ever had before. Small tasks like walking through a field took on an entirely new life. I could hear nearly every weed swishing against my hunting pants, to the point of a near cacophony. This actually drowned out my hunting party’s voices, but switching between modes and adjusting volume settings quickly rectified this.
Yes, the modes actually do make a difference. I can hear different frequencies more clearly between them. After this hunt I left my plugs on the turkey setting and headed to the range. I nearly jumped when I slipped them back in. I could hear the songbirds so clearly it seemed as though they were right next to me.
However, I found great use for my new ears on the range as well, particularly in .22 matches. Attending my first PRS .22 match and small-bore silhouette match, I had many people offering advice and assisting. Using the range and clear communication modes allowed me to hear my instructors and more quickly pick up on the sound of steel being hit.
I now cannot imagine shooting without Tetra ear protection. They provide comfort knowing I’m protected, but also allow me to focus on the task at hand without worrying about missing something or enduring the frustration of not being able to hear. Protecting your hearing and enjoying outdoor pursuits shouldn’t have to be a trade-off! MSRP $2,199; Tetrahearing.com