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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July 11th, 2014

Etymotic Electronic Earplugs Protect, Yet Allow Normal Sounds

etymotic gsp 15 electronic earplugs noise reduction ear protection

Etymotic Research now offers its GSP•15® Electronic Earplugs in a smaller form factor. This gives shooters some of the best “wearable technology” on the market. These small, electronic earplugs protect the user from loud shot and blast noises, while at the same time allowing normal conversations. The active circuitry in GSP•15 earplugs allows for natural hearing when sound levels are safe. (Natural hearing is automatically restored when hearing is not at risk.) In this respect, these small earplugs do the job of a much larger, bulkier pair of electronic ear muffs.

etymotic gsp 15 electronic earplugs noise reduction ear protection

GSP•15 plugs have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 25 dB, better than many electronic muffs. And these plugs are small, light, and comfortable. Using the company’s bean-sized Quiet Sound Amplifier® outer case, the latest GSP•15 earplugs fit great. A variety of tip shapes/materials are provided.

Special 15% Off Savings Now Through August 31, 2014
Etymotic GSP•15 Electronic Earplugs normally retail for $399.00. As a special offer for AccurateShooter.com readers, the full GSP•15 kit is now 15% off (roughly $339.15) if you use discount code AS2014 at checkout. This special offer is valid until August 31, 2014.

GSP•15 plugs pack impressive engineering inside a small package. High-sensitivity microphones, high-definition balanced-armature drivers, and advanced signal processing combine to deliver high-fidelity, natural sound. And, like the original model, the new GSP•15 earplugs come with a wide selection of ear-tips, with custom molds an available option.

“Hearing loss is preventable,” says Dr. Patricia Johnson, audiologist and hearing conservation specialist at Etymotic. “Etymotic has been providing the world’s only truly flat-attenuation in passive earplugs for over 25 years. We’re pleased to launch this new version of GSP•15 electronic earplugs that lets wearers hear naturally when sound levels are safe, but be protected when it counts.”

etymotic gsp 15 electronic earplugs noise reduction ear protection

GSP•15s Work Well for Hunters — Providing Protection AND Amplification
Unlike bulky muffs, the GSP•15s fit perfectly under a hat or other cold weather headgear. And while they protect a shooter’s hearing from blasts, these electronic ear plugs also provides up to five times amplification in the enhancement mode. At the flip of a switch, sound is amplified, giving hunters “super hearing” in the field.

etymotic gsp 15 electronic earplugs noise reduction ear protection

About Etymotic
Etymotic is a research, development and manufacturing company that designs high-fidelity personal audio products and hearing wellness solutions to assess, enhance, and protect hearing. For more information about Etymotic and its products, visit www.etymotic.com.

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June 20th, 2013

Recommended Gear: Howard Leight MAX-1 NRR 33 Ear Plugs

accurateshooter.com review Max-1 Howard Leight ear plugsBetween shooting, riding motorcycles, and working with gas-powered yard equipment, your Editor probably has foam plugs in his ears 8-12 hours a week. I’ve tried many different varieties of ear plugs, both the foam variety and the soft plastic flange-type plugs.

I’ve recently started using the Howard Leight MAX-1 plugs. Rated at NRR33, these are, quite simply, the best ear-plugs I’ve ever tried. No BS — these things really work. Among all disposable plugs I’ve tried, the MAX-1s are definitely the most effective at blocking noise, and they are also more comfortable than most other foam plugs I’ve used. In my experience at the range, these plugs block sound way better than most muffs (when worn without plugs underneath).

The first thing I noticed about these plugs is how much more effective they were than muffs alone. With muffs in place, a rifle report is still quite audible. With the red MAX-1 plugs, the noise from a shot is much, much quieter. Proof of the “real world” effectiveness of these plugs came when talking. The plugs work so well that I had trouble hearing words spoken by a colleague from just four feet away. With conventional (non-electronic) muffs I can hear a normal speaking voice from many yards away.

These MAX-1 plugs insert easily (if you roll them first), and the wide, flared outer bell makes them very easy to remove. Subjectively, these plugs seem more comfortable than most other foam plugs I have tried. They are certainly way more comfortable than the cheap, non-tapered ear plugs. MAX-1 plugs are available in both standard configuration and corded versions. These are cheap to buy — 20 pairs of non-corded MAX-1s cost just $4.25 on Amazon.com.

accurateshooter.com review Max-1 Howard Leight ear plugs

I’m not the only one who likes the Leight MAX-1 plugs. Here are some comments from verified purchasers on Amazon.com:

These ear plugs deserve all the raves they’ve received. They’re by far the best I’ve used and among the least expensive. They hold up very well when used repeatedly. This is the only brand I’ll buy from now on. — Joe

These things are as soft and gentle as they come and they block the noise out very well. I highly recommend them[.] — Byron

They are the best ear plugs I’ve ever used — and I’ve used many over the years. These are the only ear plugs I will ever use in the future. — Rhoda

My darling husband snores like the dickens. With a timid and hopeful heart, I purchased these ear plugs online. The first night I used these, I slept like a rock. The product is fantastic; the plugs stay small long enough when you pinch them so you can get them in, and they cancel out noises very well. I’m so happy I got these – they’re saving my marriage! — YC, Seattle

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