Now in its second year, TETRA Hearing joins the ranks of award-winning brands like Springfield, Savage, Trijicon, and Federal Premium, in being recognized as a Golden Bullseye winner by American Hunter.
Co-founders Bill Dickinson and David Gnewikow started TETRA with a simple goal to provide an unparalleled hearing experience to hunters in the moment it matters most. They wanted TETRA products to be trusted as premium and the consumer experience to be deeply personal. Today, media and consumers alike are discovering that there’s no other product like TETRA’s hearing devices on the market. It’s truly an honor to be chosen as the 2021 American Hunter Golden Bullseye “Gear of the Year” Award winner.
“An uncertain 2020 saw the ranks of America’s millions of hunters swell unlike they have in many years,” said Editor in Chief J. Scott Olmsted in an American Hunter article published earlier this year. “As we welcomed to the field hunters new and old, companies in the firearm and outdoor trade industry continued to provide innovation, quality and value to us all. American Hunter is proud to honor these companies’ dedication to our pastime with 2021 Golden Bullseyes.”
With two awards under our belt - TETRA earned Guns & Ammo’s Technology of the Year Award in 2020 - we caught up with co-founder Bill Dickinson to see what’s next for the brand that’s disrupting and changing the industry, two ears at a time.
An Interview with TETRA Co-Founder Bill Dickinson
Q. Tell us about being notified of the award. Where were you, how did you react?
A. Actually, this is kind of a funny story. I remember getting a meeting request for a “quick call” at 4:00 p.m. I thought, “who does that?” I had a million other things needing to get done at that time. First, I was going to decline the meeting, then I was going to ask to reschedule later in the week, then I thought I could let someone else on the team handle it. But something would not allow me to do any of those ideas. I’ve never been so happy to have accepted a ten-minute call in my life!
Q. How does it feel being awarded among the ranks of brands like Springfield, Savage, and Trijicon?
A. Without question, it’s an honor. Simply being recognized by American Hunter as an innovation leader while still being a young company is thrilling in its own rite. But when you look around and see whose company TETRA is now in with this award, it feels like we’re standing on the shoulders of giants who went before us. I’m simply honored for TETRA to be placed in the same category as those other leaders who have pushed design limits or had the vision to invent ways to meet consumer needs.
Q. What does this award represent for you personally? For TETRA?
A. This award is a confirmation of a gut feeling and a relentless need to fill a void in the industry. We knew we could find that place where hunting and the hearing sciences intersect to create something better than any other hearing product we’ve seen. This award says, we did it. More importantly, it says we’re committed to always pushing the limits of innovation to help hunters and shooters.
Q. What obstacles did you overcome to get here?
A. Where do I begin? … Putting the nuts and bolts of launching and maintaining a startup aside, we knew from the beginning that we’d have to change the way people think about sound when it comes to hearing protection in all aspects of their lives, but especially for hunting. We knew our sound experience had to be unique to every pursuit and every hunter. After all, no two hunts are alike, and neither are two hunters’ ears. Heck, in the mid-80s, the big camo companies like Mossy Oak and Realtree figured out how important it was to match camouflage patterns to specific hunting pursuits. Why? No two hunts are alike. We wanted to address that same thing for the sounds of the hunt.
David (Gnewikow, TETRA co-founder) and I spent hours measuring the most important frequencies associated with various hunts - duck calls, pheasant flushes, leaves crunching beneath a deer’s hooves, shotgun reports, and even voices. That’s how we were going to differentiate TETRA from other so-called “hearing brands,” brands that took the lazy approach by amplifying everything to the same level or blocking out sound altogether. We didn’t want that; we wanted you to hear everything you need to hear, at its natural level, and nothing that you don’t.
We measured the auditory response of these stimuli inside the ear and developed Specialized Target Optimization™. It was a long process and perfecting it wasn’t easy, but the result was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears when put into perfecting STO and creating a first-of-its-kind technology.
Q. What do you hope the hunting community, specifically potential customers, will take away from this recognition?
A. We’ve received lots of feedback over the last two years. Too many hunters are on the fence about using hearing protection either because they’ve tried all the other hearing protection on the market and didn’t like it, or they’re somehow not convinced they need it. It really is crazy how many times I hear about hunters who use hearing protection shooting clays or on the range, but never while hunting. To me, that’s like using a seat belt when driving only the interstate. Thankfully, there’s a gracious plenty who believe in our product and are shouting it from the rooftops that it’s better than they ever expected. Award aside, just look at the reviews on our website. We made a product that real, genuine hunters believe in, and we hope the rest of the hunting and shooting community sees that and comes to trust us with their hearing.
Q. What’s next for TETRA - in the next year, five years, 10 years?
A. As exciting as our first couple of years have been and how blessed we are to receive awards like this, I really get excited about what is on our product roadmap over the next few years. Given our experience in microelectronics and amplification circuits, and being experts in sound and the human auditory system, TETRA will continue to bring hearing technology to the hunting/shooting market that consumers simply have never seen before. We very much believe TETRA is not here to join the hearing protection industry, but rather we are here to re-define it. TETRA Hearing devices will always be at the intersection of hearing science and premium sound technology. As hearing docs and hard-core hunters, I can promise you we will only create devices that we actually use ourselves in the field.
Q. What mark do you hope TETRA will leave on the hunting/shooting industry?
A. I hope the mark we leave is one of change and genuine care for the 15 million hunters out there. Yes, we hope people use and love our products, but above all, we want to bring awareness to the importance of hearing protection - even if that means just wearing foam plugs.
Hearing loss is not an “old age” thing or a natural part of aging. Loss is most often caused by the harm we do to ourselves across a lifetime. It can be from a big insult like a single shot in a deer shack, but more often hunt after hunt with unprotected ears, and the damage compounds itself. We’re trying to bring awareness to that and create a culture of change that says, “I refuse to go hunting without my hearing protection,” and we’re starting by offering the most comfortable, effective devices on the market. We say, “hearing protection doesn’t have to suck,” and we truly believe that. It’s what drives everything we do at TETRA. We hope we’ve developed a product that hunters can’t refuse, so the conversation becomes, “I have no excuse to not wear hearing protection.” It’ll take time, but this recognition is a step in the right direction.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A. At the end of the day, after 30 years as an audiologist, all the focus about protection is really more about the brain than the ear. We have to remember that we don’t really hear with our ears, we hear with our brain. Our ears are really only super sophisticated receiving and shipping systems, because the ear only gathers sound, converts sound to electrical impulses and sends it up to the brain. Once we damage that sophisticated delivery system, the brain ends up suffering. In today’s world, a hunter should never have to sacrifice a great hearing experience in order to protect the ear. TETRA’s technology is designed to provide a truly fantastic, natural hearing experience for every passion and pursuit, while protecting the ear and brain when the trigger is pulled.