How to Stay Safe When Practicing at the Gun Range
All you need to know.
Key point: Keeping your ears safe is very important.
When it comes to choosing the best hearing protection for your ears, there is a lot to understand and consider the products that are available on the market today.
Quality and consistency vary, as with any product, but knowing what to watch out for will help you make a decision about the best hearing protection for you.
In this review, we’ll walk you through why you need hearing protection; explain what noise reduction is and how it is helpful; what the different types of noise reducers are; what the different types of hearing protections are and how they are different from one another; what electronic hearing protection is and how it is used in the field; and finally, we’ll provide a review of the best products for hearing protection that are available today.
If you’re looking for the quick and dirty, we picked Howard Leight Impact Sport Earmuff’s line of ear protectors as the top choice for both quality and price.
Leight has been military grade equipment for years and only recently launched a new line of hearing protection which right now is priced at 1/2 of the competition for the same quality.
HOW WE MADE OUR PICKS
We don’t live in grandpa’s world any more when it comes to hearing protection for shooters. Back in the old days you could choose, well, there wasn’t much choice. Davy Crockett was liable to insert a broken off stick into his ears for a hard day of bear shooting or just go without.
But then a little thing called technology happened that changed everything. The hearing protection industry is now jam-packed with dozens of product models sporting lists of specifications as long as your arm. What do you do? You’re not an audiologist! You just want to shoot your firearms without going deaf.
You wouldn’t be the first to throw up your hands and look to the ground for the nearest stick the approximate diameter of your ear canal. Wait! Please don’t do that. Any ear doctor will tell you that’s a bad idea.
Instead, check out our recommendation for the best earmuff protection on the market. Why listen to us? Good question.
We have a staff of shooting enthusiasts who were all happy to participate in this project of finding the best blend of price and quality on the market today.
After polling the online community for suggestions, we ordered and tested a double handful of the most popular products with the best reputations.
The final pick for best shooting protection evolved after several long discussions at the office and maybe one at the pub. The general consensus pointed to a clear winner, which we will reveal in due time. If you can’t wait, scroll.
Conventional wisdom tells us that hearing protection is important for hunters, sport shooters, or anyone else exposed to loud noises, but in the paragraphs below we’ll dig into the scary side of how such exposure can ruin your precious hearing. We’ll also explain what you need to know about noise reduction, the pros and cons of various noise reducers, and the strange and wonderful world of electronic hearing protection.
Over the next few minutes, you’re going to learn how to choose a high-quality shooting earmuff that perfectly fits your lifestyle.
REVIEWS OF BEST HEARING PROTECTION FOR SHOOTERS
Are you ready for the big reveal of our #1 recommended shooting hearing protection?
Of course you are, but we need to say something first. You’re probably aware there are two types of hearing protection devices – earplugs and earmuffs. While we included a few earplug choices on our list, because some protection is better than none, we aren’t going to pretend like they are as effective at cancelling noise or preserving hearing as earmuffs – because they’re not. What we will say is that, if you’re not wearing anything at all and hate earmuffs, at least give earplugs a try.
In coming up with our favorite earmuff choice, we evaluated the contenders on style (‘cause you gotta look right on the range), noise-cancelling capability, attack time recovery, noise reduction rating, ease of use, accessory options, and, of course, that undefinable WOW factor that sets one product apart from the rest.
Ultimately, when considering overall quality, price, and usability, as well as suitability for sport and recreational use beyond shooting, we made our top pick below.
Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff
This set of electronic earmuffs comes in a pack of 2 so you and your fellow shooter, or child, can protect their hearing in comfort.
Both pairs of sport earmuffs offer built-in multi-directional microphones which provide amplification of surrounding noise within range, as well as other noises in the area at about 82 dB — which is a safe range for people to withstand without experiencing hearing damage or loss.
This model of electronic hearing protection device offers a noise reduction rating of 22. The earmuffs allow you to maintain contact with the outside world but hearing ambient noise around you, including commands on the range or tips from your buddy in the woods.
The earmuffs themselves are designed to accommodate firearms and are built with low profile ear cups and adjustable headbands to fit a range of sized heads. It is powered by 2 AAA batteries and features automatic shut off after 4 hours of non-use which helps to keep the battery lasting longer.
These earmuff style electronic protection devices are foldable for easy storage and are offered in the classic camouflage green that is popular amongst hunters and army personnel alike.
If you like, you can attach an MP3 player, or your smartphone to the earmuffs through an external audio jack so you can listen to your favorite tunes while taking in some target practice. These are a solid pair of electronic hearing protection device earmuffs, and they offer a good rate of noise reduction for the wearer without obstructing their firing technique and closing them off from outside commands or noises.
HOWARD LEIGHT BY HONEYWELL R-01902 SHOOTING EARMUFF
With a noise reduction rate of 30, the Howard Leight by Honeywell offers a better noise reduction rating than the sport edition reviewed above.
It also provides built-in multi-directional microphones that allow the wearer to hear commands on the range, or to gain better access to natural sounds around them, such as someone approaching them from behind. The earmuffs provide a safe 82 dB noise level for regular wear.
Because these are electronic earmuffs, they actively listen for sounds louder than 82 dB and will cancel out the noise once levels reach that high. It can also passively block out noise around 30 dB without difficulty.
The earmuffs offer rubber guards to prevent scratching on the rifle or firearm when in use, and it offers an adjustable headband to provide a secure and comfortable fit for hours of comfortable wearing.
The Howard Leight Shooting earmuff offers an external audio port for MP3 players and smartphones, similar to the sport edition, and also requires 2 AAA batteries to function.
There is also an automatic shut off when not in use for at least 4 hours, and the batteries should last up to 350 hours of being “on” for listening for louder sounds.
This model of electronic hearing protection device is a little more robust than the sport model, and the earmuffs themselves are a bit larger. It is darker in color and more professional looking than the olive or camo green of the sport model, but the overall functionality of them is similar and effective.
3M PELTOR TACTICAL SPORT HEARING PROTECTOR
This electronic hearing protection earmuff style device by 3M offers a noise reduction rating of 20 dB, which is similar to the sport edition of the Howard Leight models.
It features an external battery compartment for easy access, and the set is powered by 2 AAA batteries. Featuring an automatic shut off option, these professionally designed and developed electronic hearing protection earmuffs are great for all day wearing and comfort.
The ear cups are ergonomically designed, and the adjustable headband allows for comfortable wearing without hot spots on your head. What’s more, these sport model hearing protection earmuffs offer digital chip technology that provides the wearer with even faster attack time, so multiple gunfire is no longer a problem.
It takes no time at all for the headset to reset and get back to listening for noises over an unacceptable level.
The sound amplification, which is found in several high-quality models of electronic hearing protection devices, allows the user to continue to hear low-level sounds including commands on the range and conversations within earshot.
These professional ear muffs can help prevent hearing loss from exposure to loud noises and can provide a high level of noise amplification, so you don’t miss anything while shooting. In order to work, hearing protection devices must be worn diligently and regularly.
Be sure to follow the instructions for use and fit before attempting to shoot a firearm.