May 21st, 2020

Learn How the Human Ear Works — And Protect Your Hearing

hearing protection inner ear anatomy science hearing medical electronic muffs earplugs

hearing protectionAll shooters, even rimfire enthusiasts, should always wear ear protection when at the range. A typical rifle gunshot is very loud — in the region of 140 to 170 decibels (the pain threshold is 130-140 db). Without ear protection, you can permanently damage your hearing during a single shooting session. We all know older shooters who are partially deaf, or who suffer from Tinnitus, because they didn’t use earplugs or muffs when they were younger.

How Humans Hear Sounds — Amazing Video Reveals All
The human sense of hearing involves multiple delicate internal membranes, bones, organs, and nerves. Shooters understand the importance of protecting their hearing, but they may not understand the bio-mechanics of human hearing. We hear sounds through Auditory Transduction. Sound waves vibrate the ear drum (tympanic membrane), but that is only the beginning. These vibrations are passed along via tiny rocker-arm-like bones to be “processed” in a spiral chamber, the cochlea.

This remarkable VIDEO explains how humans hear sounds. We strongly recommend you take the time to watch and learn. The hearing you save may be your own!

Click Speaker Icon to turn on the video’s soundtrack.

Vibrations moving through the cochlea are separated into frequencies and then sent as neural messages to the brain. It is an astonishingly complex process, one that truly seems miraculous when you examine the bio-engineering involved. In the Video above, the process of human Auditory Transduction is explained and illustrated with 3D animation. You really should watch this amazing video. By the end you will have a new-found appreciation for your ability to hear.

hearing protection inner ear anatomy science hearing medical electronic muffs earplugs

Every shooter should own a pair of Electronic muffs, even if you prefer shooting with earplugs and/or standard muffs. Electronic muffs are great when you are spotting for other shooters or are working near the firing line. They let you hear ordinary conversations while still providing vital hearing protection. You can also wear ear-plugs under muffs for extra sound attenuation.

shooting ear protection nrr 33 ear plugs howard leightPlugs PLUS Ear-Muffs — The Benefits of “Doubling-Up” Your Hearing Protection
According to OHS Online: “The combined attenuation of an ear plug and an ear muff is not simply the algebraic sum of the performance of each individual protector. This is due to an acoustic and vibratory interaction between the ear muff and the ear plug that causes them to behave together as a system rather than as independent hearing protectors.

Generally speaking, when you combine two hearing protectors, ear muffs over ear plugs, you can expect an increase [in noise reduction] of between 3 and 10 dB over the higher-performing hearing protector. OSHA [now advises] 5 dB as the [typical] benefit offered by combining hearing protectors.” Source: OHSonline.com

Ear diagram courtesy Siemens Medical Solutions.

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December 28th, 2017

Don’t Read This Article (If You Want to Become Deaf Someday)

Hearing Protection DB sound level ear plug muff

“Science tells us that exposure to continuous noise of 85 dB for eight hours is enough to cause permanent hearing loss, and worse, spikes of 130 dB and more can result in permanent hearing damage instantly.”
Source: NRA Blog.

The Risk of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be progressive and irreversible. If you are a shooter, this is serious business. As the NRA Blog cautions: “You may not even realize you’re harming your hearing. Hearing loss occurs gradually, and can go effectively unnoticed until symptoms become severe. By then, the damage is done.”

Nobody wants to go deaf. But we often see shooters without effective hearing protection when they are walking around a few yards behind the firing line. That’s bad — even if you are away from the firing line, gunshot noises can damage your hearing. You MUST use effective hearing protection every time you go to the range. Good foam earplugs costs mere pennies but they can prevent deafness in your later years. Many folks also wear muffs over plugs.

Sound Levels for Common Noises:

9mm Luger pistol: 160 dB

Jet aircraft engine (near): 140 dB

.22 LR pistol: 134 dB

Normal human pain threshold: 120 dB

Noisy Nightclub: 110 db

Riding Motorcycle at 65 mph: 103 db

Power Lawnmower: 95 dB

Hearing damage possible: 85 dB (sustained for 8+ hours)

Ringing Telephone: 80 dB

Normal conversation: 60 dB

The Myth of the “Quiet” .22 LR
The NRA Blog notes that “many rimfire shooters, particularly those using the beloved .22 Long Rifle cartridge, argue that the small .22 LR caliber doesn’t produce enough sound to damage your hearing”. So, is that really true … or is it a myth?

In fact, a .22 LR can be much louder than you think — a .22 LR pistol can produce sound levels of 134 dB. That’s well above the normal human pain threshhold.

hearing protection ear muffs NRR earplugs osha deafness

Highest Protection NRR 34dB-Rated Ear Muffs

AccurateShooter Deals of Week NRR 34 muffs ear protection 34dB

For under $20.00 you can buy quality ANSI-approved muffs with a 34dB Noise Reduction Rating — the best you can get. Chose the Bright Yellow TR Industrial Muffs at $18.37, or the dark green Walker EXT Range Muffs for $12.11. Both products have padded head-bands which retract. Another dual-shell design with a 34dB NRR rating is the new FNova Muffs priced at just $12.99.

Howard Leight MAX NRR33 Earplugs, Just $7.50 for 50 Pairs.

accurateshooter.com review Max-1 Howard Leight ear plugs

20 Pairs
50 Pairs

These Howard Leight NRR33 Max plugs are your Editor’s favorite foam earplugs. Between shooting, motorcycling and mowing lawns, I probably have Max plugs in my ears 2-3 days a week. This is a very good price for a bulk pack of 50 pairs. And if you act soon, you can get free shipping to boot.

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March 22nd, 2016

Hearing Loss and Ear Protection — What You Need to Know

hearing protection ear muffs NRR earplugs osha deafness

Hearing loss can be progressive and irreversible. If you are a shooter, this is serious business. You need to use effective hearing protection every time you go to the range. Even if you are away from the firing line, gunshot noises can damage your hearing. Good foam earplugs costs mere pennies but they can prevent deafness in your later years. Many folks also wear muffs over plugs. Some other shooters prefer the custom-molded ear plugs. Electronic muffs can be useful when you are away from the firing line because they allow you to converse.

Here are some comments from Forum members on the subjects of hearing loss and the need for proper ear protection. You can join the discussion in this FORUM THREAD:

“If you are young and don’t want to end up with profound hearing loss like I have… ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use hearing protection. This is from a guy who is social security/medicare eligible, has two Re-Sound aids at a not so cheap $2000.00 EACH… and now has religion! When I was young [we] never wore ear gear and laughed at the ringing after 100 rounds of 12 gauge at the skeet range. Now we live with the consequences. Be smarter than I was!” — Gary0529


“Take it from a 70-year-old that has been shooting 49 years. I now have a Re-Sound hearing aid in the left ear and a Cochlear Implant in my right. I still cannot hear. Custom molded plugs are best. Some are sold at gun shows and some are made by the folks that make hearing aids. They are cheap as compared to this $200,000 implant. DO IT NOW for everyone around guns.” — Richard King, King’s Armory


“Say WHAT? You have to type a little louder! I used to shoot without any muffs, when I was ‘young and indestructible’, and now I have about 40% loss. When I take youngsters and friends shooting, they get muffs and plugs. I’m not allowed suppressors where I live. I would use them if I could.” — Josh B.


“For what it’s worth, I wear both ear plugs and muffs that have NO sound adjustment capability. As a youngster (15) I wore no ear protection either in shooting or motorcycle riding. I kept doing that until entering military service at age 18 where we had to wear ear plugs at the range. Started wearing ear plugs after that, except when motorcycle riding. At around age 53 my hearing started going south as a result of my own stupidity as a youngster and now some 15 years later I only have about 45% of my hearing left. So beware all — there is a price to pay if you don’t protect your hearing.” — Shynloco

hearing protection ear muffs NRR earplugs osha deafness

Important Safety Considerations:
1. The NRR (noise reduction rating) is determined by “experimenter” fit, not user fit, and trained listeners during the testing period. This results in inflated protection numbers compared to real-world protection.
2. Any disruptions in the protector/skin seal will greatly reduce the effectiveness. Think eye glass temple bars, lots of hair, ear wax, etc. A 5% leak results in a 50% reduction in effectiveness.
3. Double protection gives only 5-10 dB extra protection.
4. Bone conduction gives about 50 dB protection so hearing protectors are the weak link[.]
5. Keep the protectors in/on your ears. Over 8 hours, if you remove them for only 30 minutes (cumulative), the effective protection is cut in half.

So, if you are using a really good muff with NRR of 33 and a foam plug with NRR of 27, the real-world NRR would be about 35 dB, at best. This would attenuate a gunshot by that amount. The key is time versus exposure. Limit the exposure and you limit the dose. — DelS


Ear Protection for Small Children
Don’t forget to protect your kids if you take them to the range (or loud rock concerts). Parents of very young infants should consider Baby BanZ Muffs, which are designed for infants 0-2 years. These small-sized muffs can protect toddlers’ hearing when loud machinery is running, during fireworks displays, or other noisy activities. These really work for tiny tots. One mother reports: “I bought these for my two-month old and they work great! He’s never fought us putting them on. He’s now falling asleep with them. He’s slept through a demolition derby and a rowdy wedding reception. I’m ordering another pair for my nephew.” Another mom says: “We bought these when we took our four month-old to a loud event. They fit her head well and were well-padded. She looked very comfortable, so comfortable in fact that she slept for most of her first rock concert. I’d say they worked exceptionally well!”

Baby BanZ ear muffs kids
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August 13th, 2015

Muzzle Brake Noise Levels Tested by PrecisionRifleBlog.com

PrecisionRifleBlog.com Cal Zant Muzzle Brake Test Noise Level Decibels Suppressor

Cal Zant at PrecisionRifleBlog.com continues to crank out interesting results from his recent muzzle brake field test. Cal recently released his muzzle brake sound test results, which gives us hard data on 20 different muzzle brakes.

Sound can be a tricky subject, but Cal Zant, the editor of PrecisionRifleBlog.com, presents everything an informed shooter should know about muzzle brake noise in a straightforward and practical way. Most sound tests are measured from the side of the muzzle, in accordance with mil-spec standards, and Cal did that. But he also measured the sound level of each brake from behind the rifle, closer to the shooter’s position. This provides a more accurate indicator of the actual sound levels firearms operators will encounter while shooting.

Muzzle brakes ARE really loud — that’s something most active shooters have observed. But this study finally gives us some hard data and makes objective comparisons. The difference between brakes was quite significant. Some brakes were ear-splitting — more than twice as loud as other brakes tested.

As a bonus, Cal also provides data on how the new Ultra series suppressors from Thunder Beast Arms Corp (TBAC) compare in terms of sound level behind the rifle.

Check out the Test Results: http://precisionrifleblog.com/2015/08/07/muzzle-brakes-sound-test.

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December 12th, 2009

23 NRR Folding Earmuffs for Just $3.99 at Midsouth

AOSafety PeltorMidsouth Shooters Supply has a great deal right now on AOSafety (Peltor) 23NRR shooting earmuffs. Now through the end of 2009, you can purchase these comfortable folding muffs for just $3.99! That’s so cheap you can purchase 3 or 4 as extras to have on hand when you go shooting with friends. A club or range can afford to purchase a couple dozen for “loaner” use or rentals. These AOSafety Muffs (made by Peltor) conveniently fold up for storage. They have a 23dB noise reduction rating (NRR) — as good as many muffs costing much more.

AOSafety Peltor

Midsouth’s $3.99 price is a STEAL. Northern Tool & Equipment sells these very same muffs for $14.99. If you run a club, place quantity orders before the price goes back up. Note: If Midsouth sells out, CDNN Investments offers these 23NRR muffs (item Pel #90559) for $4.99 — part of a “liquidation sale” in CDNN’s latest 2009-5 catalog (p.121).

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