If you are going to play with guns and ammo you’ll also need eyes and ears. We are talking protection of course. Eye protection varies by whether or not you normally wear glasses, like to see the world in yellow or prefer clear versus tint. When it comes to ears I prefer two. No silly, not two ears—although that is a preference as well—two forms of hearing protection. Outside a quality pair of electronic muffs that lets me hear commands, line stoppages, emergencies, “Take ‘em! Hen, hen—No shot!” or potential safety hazards.
I also prefer a second barrier. As a gun writer, time in the military and plain genetics, I am already suffering some loss so a second layer of protection becomes even more important. I will use the foamy earplugs in a pinch, but foam plugs never seem to expand quickly enough. Inevitably, you get caught waiting for the plug to expand when Bang! you get your bell rung.
Personally, I prefer molded earplugs. A set will do the job on its own when electronic muffs are not available; the fit is custom and you get complete protection, immediately. A friend made a set for me years ago and I have been hooked ever since. With time marching on, my pair have become ripe for retirement. I was elated when I realized that a guy at a recent gun show had a table set up and was making them on the spot. My spirits quickly sagged as my wallet clammed up at the sight of the price. I just couldn’t bear the $100 price tag, so I passed.
…And am I ever glad I did. For about $15 you can buy the kit from Radians and do it yourself—it is incredibly easy and nontechnical, and only one phase of the process is difficult. When you open the package, there are two containers of putty. Open both containers and take half of the putty from each; then close the containers.
Next, you will knead the two halves together until the colors blend and it is streak free. Once mixed, you’ll push the putty into the ear canal. I did it in front of a mirror. That way I could see how it looked and visually check the fit. After that comes the hardest part of the whole process—keeping your mouth shut. Yep, at least 10 minutes—I would recommend 15.
Toward the end of the process I could feel it expanding and almost feeling like it was going to pop out of my ear. However, I checked with a mirror and everything was just fine, so don’t get spooked if it happens to you.
The putty needs time to set and moving your jaw would prevent a solid seal. After the first side is finished, just repeat for the second side. When done, I like to take a permanent marker and label each for right or left to make identification quick and easy in the field.