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How to Choose The Right Shooting Earplugs or Earmuffs

Updated on January 2, 2017

Whether you are hunting, target shooting for a competition, or working for the law enforcement, you should be using shooting earplugs to protect your hearing. Noise or sound intensity is measured in decibel (dB). A normal voice will usually measure up to 60dB and long exposure to noise from 90dB and up can cause permanent hearing loss. The best form of hearing protection is something that you can wear comfortably every time when in noisy environment.

Shooting Earplugs
Shooting Earplugs | Source

Choosing the right shooting earplug is very crucial so it is helpful to understand how much protection is needed and the basic terminology in order to pick the right one for you. The performance or ability of earplugs or earmuffs to attenuate sound is measured by its Noise Reduction Ratings or NRR. A higher NRR decibel (dB) means a greater amount of noise reduction. Although there is conflicting information on how to use the NRR value to calculate the noise level at ear, the computation is pretty straightforward. Just subtract the NRR value (dB) from the noise level of the environment to get the noise level at ear. However, some manufacturers of shooting earplugs or earmuffs only block half of the listed NRR. So at a noise level of 100dB, a hearing protector with NRR of 25dB will only block 12.5dB of noise, which leaves you 87.5dB noise at ear. Keep this in mind when choosing the right shooting earplugs. An earplug with NRR value of 30dB should be enough to provide you hearing protection for pistol and shotgun range both indoor and outdoor.

There are different styles of hearing protection to choose from. Corded earplugs can be worn behind the neck when you’re not shooting to keep them from getting lost. Earplugs without cords are much less noticeable but you can easily lose them. Earmuffs provide good hearing protection when shooting firearms but it is bulky and relatively more expensive than earplugs. Whichever style you choose is up to you as long as you get the hearing protection you need.

The comfort and fit of the shooting earplug is also very important. One that is loosely worn on your ears will not provide the best protection. Try several sizes and styles until you find the one that works best for your ears.

You should understand that hearing is very important so don’t take any risk because not all hearing loss is reversible. Happy shooting!

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