One of the most important factors to consider for all hunters or shooters of all ages is hearing protection, although it tends to be the last thing on a person’s mind. According to research by the American Academy of Otolaryngology, exposure to noise at or above 80-85 decibels can result in injury to the ear.
The damage itself is caused by injury inflicted on the sensitive inner ear nerve endings by the loud noise; and the longer the length of the noise or exposure to the noise, the greater the amount of harm.
Fortunately, evidence has prompted an importance of hearing protection for shooters with society spending more time developing appropriate resources and technologies.
Unfortunately, not all types of ear protection are created equally and finding the best style for your needs requires consideration of different features. It is essential that a combination of facts and price be examined instead of choosing the least expensive solution.
The majority of individuals believe that purchasing some ear protection for shooting ranges is simple, but this is untrue. Nowadays, there are various types of hearing protection available with ranging levels of protection. The focus of this article is to offer basic information on the different types of protection, along with recommendations.
1. Passive Ear Plugs
For the most part, ear protection for shooting can be divided into different categories including passive ear plugs, passive hearing protection, and electronic hearing protection. The passive ear plug is a soft plug that is typically made using a plastic or foam-based material. The plugs are used by inserting them into the ear opening, and they assist by dampening any loud noises one is exposed to.
A passive ear plug is known as “passive” because it does not use any electronic device to dampen noise. Plugs are by far the most cost-effective type of ear protection, but they are not the most physically effective. While the sound is dampened, it can continue to be loud. In fact, some individuals will complain of “ringing ears” after several hours at a shooting range despite using passive ear plugs.
2. Passive Hearing Protection
The passive hearing protection style is comprised of ear muffs with a cup covering the entire ear. The muffs are typically connected to a headpiece or headband. Similar to the passive ear plugs, a passive hearing protecting tool does not use electronic resources to reduce sound. It is designed as a seal and protects the ear through this method.
One of the benefits of using a passive hearing protection option is that the ear muff model can be adjusted; however, some of the less costly ear muffs may not have this feature. Another benefit is that the ear muffs tend to dampen all sounds.
3. Electronic Hearing Protection
The third design, the electronic hearing protection style, is a model containing an ear muff and incorporates it with electronic technology. It reduces the noise down to a level that is not harmful to the human ear. One benefit of this option is that the entire sound dampening procedure is immediate because the suppressed sound is transmitted to the wearer almost instantly.
Unfortunately, electronic hearing protection models are expensive and in many cases unaffordable.