Ear protection is one of those “must-have” items for the shooting range or in-the-field shooting scenarios such as hunting. The world of hearing protection now available for today’s shooters has improved drastically over the last 20 years. If you are on the range today, you see everything from high-end electronic hearing protection to throwaway orange foam earplugs and several options in between.
Electronic ear protection functions by turning an impulse sound wave, such as the sound of a gunshot, into an audible, yet softer sound. Unlike traditional earmuffs, which muff out all sounds, an electronic earmuff allows you to protect your hearing from loud noises yet still hear other low-level sounds.
Electronic earmuffs are great if you are shooting or hunting with friends because you can easily engage in conversations without removing them. They do require batteries and, with this type of technology, the only real disadvantage of electronic earmuffs may be the price.
Traditional Ear Muffs
Earmuffs work by covering or cupping your ear with some type of padding or foam. They do offer several advantages in addition to simply protecting your hearing. Earmuffs are non-invasive, rather inexpensive and lightweight. Since there is no type of electronic device, they are a little harder to break.
In the Ear
If covering your ears is not something you like to do, you may want to consider a behind-the-ear or in-the-ear type of electronic protection device. The concept is much like a hearing aid; some types do have a small flexible tube with a plug on one end you insert into the ear canal while the remainder of the device rests behind your ear.
There is also a simple plug type that fits snugly into the ear canal with no behind the ear portion and is barely noticeable. For folks who do not like a cumbersome muff these styles works well. They are also considered electronic protection and can compress loud noises while amplifying impulse sounds, such as talking. Drawbacks to this type include:
- Requires batteries
- Must purchase one for each ear
- Easier to lose due to smaller size
Quality hearing protection can put a strain on your budget. Electronic amplification plugs are certainly worth their weight in gold and these state-of-the-art protection devices come at a premium. On the other end of the spectrum are the cheap orange foam earplugs that provide some minor level of protection to your hearing. However, this type of generic foam plug often leaves shooters needing more.
If you want to protect your hearing while also protecting your savings account then consider a customized, do-it-yourself kit. In less than 15 minutes, and for under $20 bucks, you can easily mold your own set of quality custom-molded hypoallergenic silicone earplugs perfect for the range or the rock concert.
Make Sure You Protect Your Ability to Hear
Loud music, decibel shattering sporting events along with regular use of ear buds can all affect your hearing. Combine that with shooting and you are bound to experience a decrease in your hearing. Thankfully, shooters (me included) realize how precious our ability to hear is and are now using proper aids to help protect and maintain our hearing. Moreover, because there are so many good options at various price points there is really no excuse not to take care of your hearing.
What is your ear protection preference? Tell us what you use and why in the comment section.