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December 3rd, 2020

Shooting Indoors — Stay Safe and Follow the Rules

Gun Range Safety etiquette NRA Blog Eye Ear Protection Rules
Photos courtesy

With winter here, many gun enthusiasts are switching to indoor ranges. There are important safety and behavior rules you need to follow when shooting indoors. Sometimes bad range etiquette is simply annoying. Other times poor gun-handling practices can be downright dangerous. The NRA Blog has published a useful article about range safety and “range etiquette”. While these tips were formulated with indoor ranges in mind, most of the points apply equally well to outdoor ranges. You may want to print out this article to provide to novice shooters at your local range or club.

8 Tips for Gun Range Etiquette

Story by Kyle Jillson for NRABlog
Here are eight tips on range etiquette to keep yourself and others safe while enjoying your day [at the range]. Special thanks to NRA Headquarters Range General Manager Michael Johns who assisted with this article.

1. Follow the Three Fundamental Rules for Safe Gun Handling
ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

This Video Covers Basic Gun Range Safety Rules and Etiquette

2. Bring Safety Gear (Eye and Ear Protection)
Eye and Ear protection are MANDATORY for proper safety and health, no matter if “required” by range rules or not. It is the shooter’s responsibility to ensure proper protection is secured and used prior to entering/using any range. Hearing loss can be instantaneous and permanent in some cases. Eyesight can be ruined in an instant with a catastrophic firearm failure.

Gun Range Safety etiquette NRA Blog Eye Ear Protection Rules

3. Carry a Gun Bag or Case
Common courtesy and general good behavior dictates that you bring all firearms to a range unloaded and cased and/or covered. No range staff appreciates a stranger walking into a range with a “naked” firearm whose loaded/unloaded condition is not known. You can buy a long gun sock or pistol case for less than $10.

4. Know Your Range’s Rules
Review and understand any and all “range specific” rules/requirements/expectations set forth by your range. What’s the range’s maximum rate of fire? Are you allowed to collect your brass? Are you required to take a test before you can shoot? Don’t be afraid to ask the staff questions or tell them it’s your first time. They’re there to help.

5. Follow ALL Range Officer instructions
ROs are the first and final authority on any range and their decisions are generally final. Arguing/debating with a Range Officer is both in poor taste and may just get you thrown out depending on circumstances.

6. Don’t Bother Others or Touch Their Guns
Respect other shooters’ privacy unless a safety issue arises. Do NOT engage other shooters to correct a perceived safety violation unless absolutely necessary – inform the RO instead. Shooters have the right and responsibility to call for a cease fire should a SERIOUS safety event occur. Handling/touching another shooter’s firearm without their permission is a major breech of protocol. Offering unsolicited “training” or other instructional suggestions to other shooters is also impolite.

7. Know What To Do During a Cease Fire
IMMEDIATELY set down your firearm, pointed downrange, and STEP AWAY from the shooting booth (or bench). The Range Officer(s) on duty will give instructions from that point and/or secure all firearms prior to going downrange if needed. ROs do not want shooters trying to “secure/unload” their firearms in a cease fire situation, possibly in a stressful event; they want the shooters separated from their guns instantly so that they can then control the situation as they see fit.

8. Clean Up After Yourself
Remember to take down your old targets, police your shooting booth, throw away your trash, and return any equipment/chairs, etc. Other people use the range too; no one wants to walk up to a dirty lane.

This NSSF Video Covers Basic Gun Range Safety Rules:

BAD RANGE BEHAVIOR — Five Things NOT to Do at the Range

Here are the five worst behaviors we’ve seen at indoor ranges. These behaviors are both dangerous and inconsiderate. Any one of these behaviors can get you permanently banned from an indoor range.

1. Sweeping other individuals after loading a weapon behind the firing line is very bad. All your weapons should be empty until you reach your shooting station.

2. Turning the handgun sideways while trying to clear a malfunction or insert/remove a magazine. This will point the muzzle at a fellow shooter. Or, after shooting a gun, the shooter fails to clear the weapon and then places the gun somewhere near the shooting station with the muzzle in an unsafe position.

3. Reacting unpredictably when firing a high recoil handgun. We’ve seen people take a second shot by accident with the muzzle way off target.

4. Not obeying range commands — in particular continuing to shoot during called cease-fires.

5. Poorly aimed shooting that hits target frames or carriers, causing ricochets.

Double-Up on Hearing Protection When Shooting Indoors
When shooting pistols indoors we recommend quality muffs with earplugs underneath, offering double protection. When inside an enclosed range, with other shooters blasting away right next to you, you really need effective hearing protection. But you also need to hear range commands and be able to communicate with your fellow shooters. That’s why we recommend electronic muffs with plugs underneath.

Howard Leight Impact Pro Electronic Muffs NRR 30

For pistol shooting indoors, we like the latest Howard Leight Impact Pro Muffs. These offer an impressive 30 dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). In addition, these muffs are pretty comfortable and offer Headphone Functionality so you can connect to your smartphone, MP3 player, or other audio device. These muffs are a good value. They are currently offered for $62.55 on

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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:

Ear diagram courtesy Siemens Medical Solutions.

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August 13th, 2015

Muzzle Brake Noise Levels Tested by Cal Zant Muzzle Brake Test Noise Level Decibels Suppressor

Cal Zant at 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, 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:

Permalink Gear Review, Tactical 2 Comments »
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).


Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
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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