Hearing Protection for Shooting: Plugs VS Muffs

Im going to talk a little bit about the different types of hearing protection that you might think about using when you’re out at the range doing your shooting training.

If you notice in almost every video about clay shooting you’ll see that there’s a mix in what shooters are wearing to protect their ear from gun noise. Some of them are wearing earplugs and others using earmuffs.

Generally speaking I recommend ear plug, now first and foremost we have to remember that the reason you’re wearing hearing protection is to protect your hearing and what a lot of people don’t know is that ear plugs are actually higher rated in protection in almost every case then the earmuff.

All you have to do is go to your local gun shop or sporting goods store and take a look at the protection ratings, you’re looking for the NRR – Noise Reduction Ratings.

Certainly you can find earmuffs that are rated higher than some other ear plugs, but in almost every case that I can think at every gun shop and every sporting goods store I’d been to even hardware stores, places where they sell hearing protection for working with power tools and things like that, you’re going to see that the noise reduction ratings are going to be higher on these ear plugs than they are on the muffs.

If you’re looking for the most protection, ear plugs are the way to go, and also you can double them up. How, you can go ahead and take the ear plugs, put them in and put the earmuffs over them. But it’s important to understand that you’re not really doubling the protection.

Of course your gonna be more protected but you want literally taking the exponential number of the noise reduction rating and doubling it.

What I mean by an exponential numbers is that when you go up from 28 NRR for example to 32 NRR, you’re not just adding four points, you’re actually adding in exponential increase.

In fact when you go from 32 NRR to 33 NRR, you may not think that that’s a very big difference but in fact is very significant. Even a change in one number is significant and that’s why the difference between typical earplugs that rated liked 32 rating are going to be much much better than a 26.

earplugs and muffs protection

Theres also a package that includes plugs and muff as well as eye protection all together in 1 box and the NRR ranging from 27 to 31.

What’s important to understand is that a lot of people will for example recommend electronic hearing protection. While the electronic hearing protection is going to make it easier for a Range Officer or instructor, someone whose out on the range that actually teaching or for two people who working together to communicate.

It makes it easier for you to hear. Then you count on the fact that the electronic hearing protection will cut off and the muffs will provide hearing protection during your actual live-fire session. But it is important to remember that in most cases, a lower number of NRR you’re going to get from the electronic hearing protection compare to the earplugs.

Personally I’m going with ear plugs and just talking a little louder, being very clear on the range, being very clear in your commands and been very clear in your request in your conversations with other people.

If you combine the ear plugs with the electronic ear muffs, if you are hard of hearing for example in windy and noisy day or you have a large group of people that you are trying to communicate with, that may be the best bet for both protection and hearing.

I would caution you not to rely on the ear muffs for the best protection out at a range. You also get compromise when you put a stock up against your cheek sometimes where to open the seal on the ear muffs which can be very dangerous and even just wearing glasses.

Because most glasses with the ear pieces are not made to take into account the fact that you need a good seal 360 degrees around the ear and that can also compromise your safety.

So for my money i definitely go with the earplugs, yes it is a little bit harder to take it in and out and little bit more time effort and energy but they’re definitely going to protect your hearing at a higher level than the muffs on a live fire shooting range.

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