According to University of Michigan’s professor of Audiology and vast research, a single gun shot fired for a short period of time and constant exposure to certain dangerous decibels can lead to permanent hearing loss or damage. Once the so-called cochlear hairs die or bent because of exposure to those can never be repaired or replaced… it never grows back. That is why constant protection of the ear must be maintained.
Listed below are some of the best hearing protection and their description that can help you make a decision on which one is for you but first let me first discuss what NRR is.
NRR is more commonly known as noise reduction rating. It is the rating method used in the United States in rating hearing protection. As of now, the current range extends from 0-33 dB which is available in the US market for NRR. Noise reduction rating is the standard method mostly used when describing or estimating a hearing protector in a single event and is used in laboratory setting to properly know or fit a hearing protector. It is seen that noise level is minimized significantly as the NRR are getting higher.
Your hearing protector can be checked with the rate of NRR that can be seen labeled on it All hearing protection devices are accordingly rated by the wearer on how much noise are minimized or lessened. It is seen like this, your exposure to dangerous sounds is equal to the total level of noise reduced by the use of the hearing protector that is used that has NRR.
List of Types of Hearing Protectors and their Description
Electronic Noise-Cancelling Hearing Protection
- You can say that this kind of hearing protector is a combination of noise reduction electronic technology with the comfort and familiarity of an ear muff. This hearing protector minimizes the decibels received by the ear to a safe level.
- The process of dampening of sound takes place immediately which is faster that a blink of the eye.
- The ability to still hear your surrounding even when you are shooting is its best feature, meaning it only suppresses the sound of gun shot or any harmful sounds.
- Beneficial to those who are hunting, during training, or on the shooting range.
- Disadvantage is that since it is electronic, it is the most expensive in terms of hearing protection devices.
- Featured enhancement making it better than other hearing protectors are:
- Presence of separate volume controls on each side of ear muffs
- Enhanced adjustability,
- Sufficient sound magnification. Especially beneficial to hunters because it amplifies no ise to a level that will enable him to hear far greater than ordinary naked ear but when a shot is made, it will instantly dampen the sound making it the best when it comes to hearing protector.
- Passive Ear Plugs
- Soft plugs made of either foam based substance or plastic.
- When placed at the ear opening or outside the ear canal, it dampens the noise that the ear exposed to.
- These are inexpensive ways to lessen noise but they are not too effective because they can only dampen sound to a certain degree.
- Called passive because they don’t use electronics to dampen sound.
Comparison between Passive Hearing Protection Earmuffs versus Electronic Hearing Protection Headsets
Classic Earmuff and Electronic Headsets both have cons and pros. The earmuffs is comfortable to use minus the giving any direct pressure within the ear canal. The behind-the-neck, cap-mounted and standard over-the-head are the 3 most common kinds of earmuffs commonly known. and classic earmuffs have advantages and disadvantages. If wearing headwear, the best one to use is the behind-the-neck style while the cap-mounted earmuffs are designed to be used in conjunction with most hard hats that have side accessory portion. The classic earmuffs are cheaper but the electronic headsets despite its high price is worth is since it can dampen noise to a safe level and can still hear your surroundings can still hear conversation actively. Another disadvantage or electronic headset is that it requires batteries aside from it being costly.
What’s the Best Hearing Protection Choice for You?
Assess your basic requirements and match them to the appropriate option above. Generally, I would not recommend the basic passive earplug. Although they are certainly better than nothing, they provide only the minimum of protection. If you shoot infrequently or don’t have the need for the additional capabilities of an electronic model, basic passive ear muffs will most likely work OK. If you are an active shooter or hunter, the electronic models can be a worthwhile purchase with all their added features. I switched from passive headphones to an electronic model for almost all purposes and don’t regret it. Some acceptable brands of hearing protectors to consider are Radians, Peltors, Pro Ears, Winchester, Caldwell, Howard Leight, Browning, and Remington. Prices range from just under $20 for passive earmuffs to up to $250 and more for electronic headsets. Generally, you should be able to get a decent pair of passive ear muffs for about $20 and a decent electronic set for about $50. At the end of the day, the choice really comes down to your own personal preferences, frequency of shooting, and needs.
Although I own several different hearing protection devices, I prefer electronic noise canceling headsets that detect sharp, loud noises, allow me to hear my students clearly, and cancel the volume in the headset for a split second when I shoot. Of course, I need to regularly hear and understand my students talking to me at the range and I shoot very regularly. My electronic headset cancels loud noises up to an acceptable level and also increases the volume of ambient sounds, so I actually hear better. Standard ear muffs deaden sound to a decent level of safety, but hearing low-level sounds is not possible. When plinking for fun at my outdoor range, I might use standard passive ear muffs, as they are usually lighter and a little more comfortable than my amplified type. When I’m teaching a class of students at the outdoor range where it is important to hear student-shooters ask questions, I wear electronic earmuffs. In very noisy environments, such as when shooting very loud (often magnum) firearms or at an indoor range, I use both earplugs inside of earmuffs, for maximum hearing protection. When dual hearing protectors are used, the combined NRR provides approximately 5 – 10 decibels more than the higher rated of the two devices. For example, using disposable ear plugs (NRR 29dB) with ear muffs (NRR 27dB) would provide a Noise Reduction Rating of approximately 39 decibels. I had a student who wore a hearing aid and she found it best for her condition to use both plugs and muffs. Shooters should match the level of hearing protection required to their need, situation, and priorities. Most importantly, always wear some sort of ear protection when shooting, in addition to proper eye protection. Your top priority is self-preservation.