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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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December 18th, 2008

Howard Leight Electronic Ear Muffs — A Good Value

Creedmoor SportsWe’re pleased that Creedmoor Sports (among other vendors), has started carrying the Howard Leight, noise-cancelling “Impact Sport” ear-muffs. This is a good product, that works well, yet costs hundreds of dollars less that many other electronic muffs on the market. The compact, folding design makes storage convenient. Forum member Danny Reever 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 muffs are comfortable and the slim profile of the muffs does not interfere with cheek weld.”

The Howard Leight Muffs’ 350-hour battery life is excellent and we like the auto shut-off feature, and external audio plug (if you want to listen to music). There is a single switch for both on/off and volume with an automatic 4-hour shutoff to help to extend battery life. The external battery compartment holds two AAA batteries, which are included.

Howard Leight Ear Muffs

Creedmoor currently sells the Howard Leight Impact Sport model shown above, for $69.99. The Impact Sport muffs have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 22. You can increase the effective NRR by using foam plugs under the muffs.

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