The risk of off-the-job hearing loss increases for men who hunt and practice target shooting, according to University of Wisconsin researchers.

In a study of more than 1,500 men aged 49 to 92, those who hunted and engaged in target shooting were more likely to have hearing loss than those who only hunted and those who did neither, according to findings reported in April issue of Archives of Family Medicine.

Half of the men studied had significant high-frequency hearing loss. Those with experience target shooting faced a 57 percent higher risk for hearing loss than those with no experience. Men who had been target shooting in the past year were at double the risk.

Less likely to suffer hearing loss were men who only hunted, despite the fact that very few hunters (5 percent) said they had worn earplugs in the past year, according to researchers. For every 5 years of hunting, the odds of significant hearing loss climbed 7 percent.

Half of the target shooters said they always wear hearing protectors. Their higher odds of hearing loss could be due to noise exposures not studied, or poor fitting earplugs, according to researchers.