Shooting ear protection is a must-have for the range, but more and more shooters are looking for protection that transitions to the field for hunting and duty as well. Shooting hearing protection has developed with the advent of new materials, improved technology, and designs engineered for better protection in the real world. There has never been a larger selection of shooting range hearing protection on the market, and you’ll find the top products from leading brands at Pennsylvania’s Largest Gun Show. Learn how to pick the right products to protect your ears.
Hearing loss is a constant danger to members of the firearms community, with some powerful cartridges creating explosive sounds that are twice the 85db level at which hearing damage becomes an immediate risk. To compound the risk, the enclosed nature of many ranges and tactical situations can cause these sounds to reverberate, reflecting sound back at you. Every time you pull the trigger, you’re setting off a small, controlled explosion that sends a bullet downrange. These explosions create concussive waves that impact your tympanic membrane and the small bones in your ear that you rely on to translate vibrations into sound for your brain. When these structures are damaged by vibrations that are too strong, hearing loss can occur–that’s where shooting ear protection comes in. Don’t cheap out on the firearm accessories that protect your hearing health.
Protecting Your Hearing While Shooting
You have plenty of options when choosing shooting hearing protection. With so many styles, materials, and levels of technology, you have a lot of choices to make. The first is what style of protection you want.
- Plugs – Plugs are a common choice for shooters who want low-profile protection. These small PPE devices are inserted into each ear canal to seal out external sounds. Usually sold in pairs, they fit handily in your shooting back or almost any pocket for protection on the go.
- Muffs – Muff-syle shooting range ear protection gives you superior protection because it doesn’t have the same size constraints that plugs do. They also cover the entire ear structure, including the small bones that sit near the surface of the external ear and get minimal protection from plugs.
Next, you’ll need to consider whether you want traditional shooting ear protection or equipment that features electronic measures to both keep your hearing safe and maintain your tactical awareness.
- Traditional Sound Dampening – Traditional shooting hearing protection relies on materials that partially block or absorb sound waves. Muff-type protection uses a hard, lightweight plastic shell lined with foam or padding, while earplugs either use a soft rubber or silicone that’s molded to fit the ears or created from a compressible foam that expands once inserted into the ear canal.
- Active Hearing Protection – This style of shooting ear protection uses circuits, sensors, and algorithms to actively cancel outside noises that can be damaging to your hearing while still allowing you to hear the sounds around you, whether it be the range master or game you’re hunting in the field.
Finally, you need to consider how you plan on using your shooting ear protection, the challenges you’re likely to face while using it, and what will keep your hearing safe without getting in your way. The best shooting range ear protection may not be the same as the best shooting hearing protection for tactical use.
- Range and Competition – The thing to remember about the range is that you’re not just squeezing off a few rounds. You’re blowing through boxes of ammo and so are the shooters flanking you. Look for shooting range hearing protection that maximizes sound dampening, even if it’s a little bulkier.
- Hunting – Hunting is a sport that changes depending on the game. For example, if you’re sitting in a blind at the start of duck season with some buddies, go for maximum protection. If you’re stalking game through trees, you want something lower profile that still lets you hear the forest around you.
- Tactical – Tactical shooting ear protection needs to be tight to the body for safety and not inhibit your tactical assessment of your surrounding, making electronic earbud-style plugs the champions for dynamic situations.
Fitting Your Shooting Ear Protection
Protective equipment needs to fit well to function well. Properly positioned, tightened, and secured hearing protection blocks and dampens more of the potentially destructive soundwaves headed for the ear’s sensitive structures.
- Ear Muffs – Muff-style shooting ear protection features two large cups that fit over the ear and are connected by a band that sits across the top of your head. The band should be adjusted so the cups fit comfortably while the band just touches the top of your head or hat. If the protection is too loose, it may slip down out of place or become snagged too easily, while a band adjusted for too tight of a fit can ride up or sit painfully.
- Soft Ear Plugs – Soft foam ear plugs are a popular and disposable choice for shooting ear protection. With clean hands, roll the plugs gently between your thumb and forefinger, compressing them into tight cylinders. Place this cylinder in your ear canal and wait a few seconds to allow for expansion to plug the canal and protect your eardrum.
- Molded or Firm Ear Plugs – Usually made from silicone or rubber and sometimes featuring active noise canceling technology, these usually have a softer molded cone or flexible fins that compress slightly when inserted into the ear canal for a tight fit.
Shop for Your Shooting Hearing Protection
You’ll find much more than “just” guns at your next local gun show. It’s a regional shopping event that draws vendors from around the state and across the country to your local event center or exhibit hall–all ready to sell to you. You’ll find shooting range ear protection from some of the top manufacturers at affordable prices without having to wait for shipping from a billionaire’s warehouse. Book your tickets online to find the shooting ear protection you need at an Eagle Shows gun show today.