The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


Sports headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.


Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Custom-made earplugs protect hunters' hearing

  • Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Pat Webster sets up her equipment for creating custom ear protection earlier this month at the Kenmore Gun Range.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald Pat Webster sets up her equipment for creating custom ear protection earlier this month at the Kenmore Gun Range.

  • Various colors of silicone wait to be molded into ear protection by Pat Webster. Customers can choose various colors or a mix.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Various colors of silicone wait to be molded into ear protection by Pat Webster. Customers can choose various colors or a mix.

  • Pat Webster (right) begins the process of creating a new silicone ear protection for her husband, Gary Webster, earlier this month at the Kenmore Gun ...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Pat Webster (right) begins the process of creating a new silicone ear protection for her husband, Gary Webster, earlier this month at the Kenmore Gun Range.

  • Pat Webster scoops out silicone to be used for a set of ear protection.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Pat Webster scoops out silicone to be used for a set of ear protection.

  • Pat Webster places silicone into a plastic syringe she will use to fill her husband Gary's ear with the substance to create a custom ear plug.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Pat Webster places silicone into a plastic syringe she will use to fill her husband Gary's ear with the substance to create a custom ear plug.

  • After injecting the silicone, Pat Webster makes final adjustments before allowing the silicone to set for seven or eight minutes in her husband Gary's...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    After injecting the silicone, Pat Webster makes final adjustments before allowing the silicone to set for seven or eight minutes in her husband Gary's ear.

  • After removing the silicone, Pat Webster uses a Dremel tool to put finishing touches on an ear plug.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    After removing the silicone, Pat Webster uses a Dremel tool to put finishing touches on an ear plug.

  • Pat Webster then seals the new ear plugs and places them on toothpicks to dry.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Pat Webster then seals the new ear plugs and places them on toothpicks to dry.

  • Gary Webster uses custom ear protection created by his wife, Pat Webster, while he trap shoots at the Kenmore Gun Range earlier this month.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Gary Webster uses custom ear protection created by his wife, Pat Webster, while he trap shoots at the Kenmore Gun Range earlier this month.

Shotguns, chainsaws, leaf blowers and lawnmowers have finally done it to me. Damaged my hearing to the point I'll soon be forced to admit defeat and start looking into hearing bleeping aids.
No excuse of course. Did it to myself. Burned boxes of Winchester Double-A's and whacked cords of firewood without giving it a thought.
But, hey, society put little emphasis on hearing protection back in the day. Plugs and muffs and stuff were limited in design and availability, bulky and uncomfortable, and no one would admit to being vulnerable to hearing loss anyway. It was even considered a little, uhhh, un-manly in some circles to insist on hearing protection.
All that has changed, of course -- a good thing -- and Pat Webster is here to save your ears.
Pat lives in Seattle, over toward Ballard, but don't hold that against her. She'll come out to your gun club, or shooting range, or hunting group meeting, or off-road Saturday, and as if by magic provide you with custom-fit, made-to-order Insta-Mold earplugs, while you wait. One night she may be talking to the monthly meeting of the Northwest Chapter, Washington Waterfowl Association in Stanwood, and the next, doing earplugs for shooters at the Kenmore Gun Range.
No more bulky muffs. No more little foam whatchamacallits popping out of your ears at inopportune times. No more pressure, itching and discomfort as you try to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Webster will sit you down, inject a high-quality silicone preparation (looks a little like Silly Putty) in your ears, and presto! Comfortable, on-the-spot earplugs you can wear all day without even knowing they're in place.
Well, maybe not presto. The whole operation takes about an hour, Webster says. Perhaps 10 minutes for the silicone to set, a certain amount of finishing work, a clear coating applied to keep the plugs clean and hypoallergenic. Piece of cake.
The plug material comes in a wide range of colors, including glitters, mixes, swirls, glow-in-the-dark or, if you're sensitive about the whole thing, flesh tone. Camo is a popular blend, as is red, white and blue.
Plugs can be made to accommodate the ear pieces and ear buds of most popular electronic devices -- Bluetooth, cell phones, I-Pods and the like -- and the parent company offers dozens of specialty options available for military, law enforcement, pilots, musicians and others, both electronic and non-electronic.
Webster says about 80 percent of her work is with hunters, shooters, off-roaders and similarly noisy outdoor recreationists, but that the Insta-Mold plugs are applicable to a full spectrum of other activities and occupations. Anyone who must wear a helmet, for instance. Swimmers susceptible to water-carried ear infections; motor sports aficionados; workers in construction, heavy machinery, sheet metal fabrication, and on and on. And how about those gazillions of unfortunates whose partners are nighttime snorers?
Webster says the plugs hold up so well that most of her "repeat" work is for customers who have lost one or a pair, or have found that the items became a "chewy" for a canine pal.
"I've had more than one customer come in with 30-plus year-old plugs needing cleaning and refurbishing, but which were essentially sound," she says.
The tab for a basic pair of while-you-wait earplugs, with carrying case, is about $47.50, Webster says which, considering you shouldn't have to buy any more of the disposable products is not a bad deal.
For more information, contact Custom Fit Hearing Protection, Patricia Webster, phone 206-783-9994, e-mail patonpost1@msn.com.








Story tags » Hunting

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.



HeraldNet Classifieds