No matter what environment you operate in, we as human being are extremely dependent on our senses. For most of us, we are not running from predators or submersed into the food chain as our ancestors may have been. There are some, however, who have jobs, hobbies or indulge in sports that require us to use every sense available.
Let’s take hunting as an example, if you have spent any length of time watching and studying the habits of your prey, you get a perfect understanding of survival in action. You would see an animal making use of every sense the Creator instilled in him. A deer for instance; every step of all fours are planned not to make noise. His ears independently search like two satellite dishes rotating and scanning for the slightest noise that does not fit into the norm. His eyes constantly watch for any unusual movement and while his nose smells and processes every particle in the air. When the deer hears something, everything freezes; no more chewing and a pause in breathing, while all attention is on ears and eyes. Both ears focus on the direction he heard something and work together to pinpoint the source. If he detects an unusual sound it is a threat and he begins the warning stomp with a front leg.
This brings me to the point of the article. I have started protecting my ears from noise that I previously never worried about before. Since retiring from the Fire Service, I now control the level of sound entering my ears. These days, I spend more time in nature, not in the modern noise polluted world.
The challenge with hearing protection lies in trying to retain total environmental awareness without the risk of either acute or chronic hearing loss. So how can we improve our hearing and the mind’s ability to process what we hear while protecting our ears? The answer comes from the folks at Etymotic.
I personally have been using the ETYMOTIC EB 15-LE Blast PLG Earplugs. These plugs were created for Law Enforcement, SWAT teams and anyone that may be in a combat environment. The EB 15 Blast Plugs are designed so you maintain your natural hearing while protecting your hearing from continuous and impulse noise above safe levels. When wearing the EB 15, you are still able to communicate without yelling, provided everyone in your party is wearing a pair. The sound is uncompromised even though you have the device in your ears. There are two modes on the EB 15. The first setting is an adaptive hearing protection while maintaining blast protection. The second setting offers 5 times the hearing enhancement while still maintaining blast protection.
So what can the EB 15 offer for you? As a tactical squad commander, you could communicate with your team while maintaining normal hearing. Also, you could enhance your hearing by 5x the normal level with the same benefits, while being protected from damage caused by flash bang deployment or gunfire. Another added benefit with the EB 15’s enhanced mode comes in equipping you with the ability to hear more efficiently than your adversary, in turn giving you the advantage in detecting him before he does you.
While in either mode, another positive benefit of the EB 15 is your ability to track the location of where an unknown shooter just fired. Etymotic has done extensive scientific testing with existing military hearing devices versus several of theirs. Etymotic’s openly published the impressive results along with the processes on their website. Needless to say, the results give a huge advantage to military and law enforcement to maintain communication, situational awareness and hearing protection with an added benefit of hearing enhancement.
The EB 15 seems to do all they claim to do and there is plenty of scientific data to support the claims. There is more to them than just protection and enhancement. The experience of using the EB 15 in the 5x-enhanced mode is like unlocking another world. Some have said, it’s like rediscovering the world all over again.
I tried the assortment of ear tips until found the one that fit me best. I found I preferred the Gray 3-flange 8-13mm for most applications. If I am going to be doing activity where I am sweating for long periods of time, then small foam tips worked better for me and stayed in my ear more comfortably. I installed the #10 batteries and inserted them in my ear as the instructions stated. I clapped my hands to see if the Etymotic plugs electronically block out the noise like my other hearing protection does but instead, I just heard myself clap. I flipped them to enhanced 5x and bam! The world came alive! I started walking and wondered what the noise was that I was hearing and I discovered it was grass and debris I was crushing as I walked. I use to pride myself in how quiet I could walk through the woods only realizing now, I was actually making a lot of racquet.
After this initial experience, I was very eager to test these on the range. I loaded up my gear and went to my swamp firing range to shoot some steel. While in normal mode, I began shooting and could still hear the handgun. I had to check my ears; yes, they were still in place so I continued shooting. Although I was able to hear everything at the level I could beforehand, my ears were not bothered. It was amazing to be able to hear the mechanics of the pistol operating and the lead from hitting the steel target was perceived so clearly. I could actually hear the lead landing all around me from the splatter. I flipped the switch to enhance and repeated the drill. These earplugs were awesome. I could not leave them in enhanced mode though because I kept thinking someone was walking up on me. When I would turn around to look, it was the palmetto blades brushing against each other or a bird digging around in the bushes.
I have a trip to the Okefenokee Swamp coming up I can’t wait to use them there as well. In wrapping up, the last point I would make is the EB 15 doesn’t have to be used just for tactical situations. You could use them just as effectively bird watching, hunting, the opera or concerts. The EB 15 from ETYMOTIC can change your entire world and how you perceive it. Take a moment to visit the ETYMOTIC website and check out all there products and discover a new world like I did. Oh by the way, next deer season, we shall see if I can hear that warning stomp!