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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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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May 12th, 2015

A Dozen Handy Items for Your Next Range Trip

With the end summer, the shooting season in full swing. When you head to the range you’ll want to be prepared. That means collecting all the gear you’ll need at the range. It’s easy to forget small, critical items, so we’ve provided a checklist of the small “extras” you should pack before you head out to the range. In addition to rifle, rests, ammo, targets, and cleaning gear, here are a dozen essentials you should include in your range bag.

Shell-Holder — If you don’t have calipers, you can use a shell-holder to check for excessive case expansion from hot loads. If a fired case doesn’t slip into the shell-holder easily, your load is definitely TOO HOT.

Extra Earplugs — Always use ear protection when shooting. We bring a 35mm film canister with extra sets of foam earplugs.

Hex Wrench or Screwdriver for action screws — Action screws can work loose with time. Always bring the appropriate hex wrench or screwdriver whenever you go to the range.

Small Wrench for Scope Rings — Check the tension of your scope base and ring fasteners before you go. Bring along a small Torx wrench for the ring screws (or other tool that fits your fasteners).

(more…)

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August 18th, 2008

SmartFit Ear Plugs — Recommended New Product

While covering the 2008 Steel Challenge, this editor tried a new style of shooter’s earplug, the 3-flange SmartFit™ from Howard Leight. First, let me say that I have, in recent years, always used the bullet-shaped soft foam earplugs because they offer the highest Noise Reduction Rating — up to 32 db NRR.

But I am VERY impressed with the SmartFits. I want you guys to know that these are VERY different than other ridged plugs on the market. Some other brands use a stiff plastic that is downright painful. Not the SmartFits. These are made of a very soft, “conforming” polymer that is surprisingly comfortable. Simple body heat actually causes the advanced material to conform to the ear channel. For me, SmartFits were at least as comfortable as soft foam plugs. If you wet the SmartFits slightly, they slide in very easily. You don’t have to roll them up with your fingers. There is a half-inch-long stub on the outside of each plug. This makes it very easy to insert or remove the units. I can definitely pop these into my ears more quickly than with the foam plugs. And, using the little stub, they come out super-fast.

The set of SmartFit plugs I tried were fitted with a braided nylon connecting cord. The cord is plenty strong and doesn’t pull out like the stretchy rubber cords on some other sets of plugs. This is a sturdy connection appropriate to a product marketed as a “multiple-use” earplug.

Sound Rating — 25 db NRR, But They Seem Quieter
The Howard Leight SmartFits are only rated to 25 db NRR. That’s “middle of the pack” noise reduction — better than most muffs but not as good as some plugs. I can tell you, however, that these things really cut sound, and in the field they performed as well or better than some foam plugs with higher ratings. With both SmartFit plugs in my ears, gun noises were masked very effectively. And to my surprise, I really couldn’t talk with someone at all unless I removed at least one SmartFit plug. With some other ear plugs I’ve found you can still hear voices even with a plug in each ear. That tells me the “real world” effectiveness of the SmartFits may be higher than the rating suggests.

Bottom line: These SmartFits are comfortable, easy to insert/remove, sturdy, and they last a long time. The SmartFits can be cleaned easily with soap and water, and they can be purchased with a flip-top dispenser for secure storage. Great Product that really works. I now keep two sets of SmartFit plugs in my range kit. There are times when I’ll still use foam plugs, but for most situations I think the SmartFits are easier to use.

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May 1st, 2008

Howard Leight Electronic Muffs on Sale for $49.99

Now through May 31, 2008, MidwayUSA has the Howard Leight Impact Sport Earmuffs on sale for $49.99, $10.00 off the regular price. That’s a heck of a deal. These electronic muffs (item 671923) perform as well as some other noise-cancelling muffs that cost two or three times the price.

Because the Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs only carry a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 22 db, we recommend you use these OVER foam ear plugs. When you do that, the electronic noise circuit still allows you to hear range commands. Forum member Danny Reever has a pair of the Leight Impacts. He reports: “Off the firing line, while others are shooting, you can easily carry on a conversation while the electronics cancel out the gunfire. Amplification is crisp and clear even at the highest setting. On the firing line, the slim profile of the muffs does not interfere with cheek weld and are comfortable.

The 22-decibel noise reduction rating (NRR) is a bit low for my liking, but I have found using 29-db plugs coupled with a slight gain in the electronics allows me to get maximum protection and still hear range commands. In fact, by increasing the volume further I could still hear conversations up and down the firing line.”

Assistant Editor Jason Baney also has a pair of the Howard Leight electronic muffs. He says: “They are comfortable and work great if you wear plugs underneath. You can even plug an iPod into them.”

Both Cabela’s buyers and MidwayUSA customers have praised these units:

“I am a firearms instructor/SWAT instructor, active on two SWAT teams. [I] have burned through too many pairs of Peltors due to their poor battery set up. These are cheaper price-wise, but [have] better controls and battery storage. Amazing sound quality. In reality to beat the performance you need to spend four to five times the money. If I could give ten stars I would…” ZM, Cabelas customer.

“I have a set of Peltors that I paid triple the price for and they aren’t half as good. These [Leights] have nice smooth attenuation unlike the Peltor that snap on and off in a very annoying fashion. These fit tight, have good noise reduction and good sound quality. The low profile works well with rifles and shotguns. Don’t bother spending more, these are great!” Paul D., MidwayUSA Customer.

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