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|Well, maybe I can offer a bit of practical advice here. Most career soldiers who were exposed to gunfire have hearing problems. Most forresters who were exposed to the sound of chainsaws have hearing losses. I have worn hearing aids for 25 years due to hearing losses probably from gunfire, even tho I was rejected by the Military (VietNam era) due to hearing losses. One round from a .357 will cause permanent hearing loss if one is suceptible to it.. problem is, one does not know if he/she is suceptible, until the round goes off. Smokeless powder gives a somewhat sharper report than BP, but it is inconcievable to me that those who worked those guns could avoid serious hearing loss...some temporary and some permanent.
Moral of the story, historical accuracy be damned, protect your hearing if you are going to be around gunfire of ANY type. I will not shoot an air rifle without hearing protection and when I do serious shooting, I wear plugs, and muffs.