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As a Marine veteran of two sunny study abroad trips in Afghanistan, I have learned just how invaluable my hearing is. We use our hearing continuously to communicate our intent and emotions with one another and without it, the world can quickly become a lonely place. With the sheer volume of Afghan National Police that we trained in 2011, I was on a live fire range about 2 to 3 times a week with the Afghans. Primarily we trained with Romanian knockoff AK-47s, one of the loudest semiautomatic military style rifles in circulation, firing at 155 Db. On top of that, we were also training the Afghans on RPKs and PKMs, fully automatic crew served machine guns also chambered in 7.62. Throughout that time, we started out using ear plugs but quickly got comfortable not depending on hearing protection all of the time. I specifically remember the first time my ears popped and rang for a few hours. I didn’t think anything of it, mostly because my hearing came back, reinforcing the delusion that I was fine without ear plugs. Those hours of ringing turned into days, weeks, and months though throughout the deployment. Eventually I was diagnosed with permanent tinnitus after I got home. It’s hard to describe the impact of tinnitus other than to imagine that one single tone is going to be constantly played throughout the background of the rest of your life. I would never wish that condition on anyone and for that reason have always strived to find the highest quality preventive measures so that wouldn’t be a concern for my clients.
With the inception of Atlas Defense, I began the search for something that was unequivocally the industry standard in hearing protection. Luckily for me, I am based in Minneapolis, not far from world renowned hearing specialists Starkey Labs. My wife Heidi introduced me to Lance Kramer, a hearing professional from Starkey labs in Eden Prairie, MN. Meeting Lance exposed me to Starkey’s line of high performance hearing protection called SoundGear. SoundGear utilizes Starkey’s decades of research and applied hearing expertise to active noise reduction devices within either a custom mold or rubber instant fit plugs.
Once you put them in, you feel like you have another sense altogether. I’ve used to the hearing loss that accompanied my tinnitus that when I put those devices in, I suddenly remembered what it felt like to be able to hear my surroundings at full, normal volume. Even better, you can control the volume on the custom fit devices or have several pre-programmed settings for the Platinum model. Once I decided to carry SoundGear, their people even gave me detailed training at Starkey’s Center for Excellence to ensure I can send them the best molds possible for the ideal fit.
Be sure to explore all of the resources we have here and to contact us to schedule an ear impression appointment for the custom fit devices. Otherwise, schedule a Range Day with us and try out our demo pair on a live fire range!
Stand by for Part Two!
Owner, Atlas Defense