Understand The Basic Hearing Protection For Shooters

Want to understand the basic hearing protection for shooters? You will not have to look any further because we have covered it all in this article!

It goes without saying that too much exposure to loud noises is going to damage your ears. This exposure will deteriorate your hearing capability over time, and eventually, it can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Do not believe us? Ask a person that has a hearing problem. We bet the answer is going to be that the person was exposed to loud noises.

And if you are a shooter and you do not understand the basic hearing protection for shooters, there is a high chance that you will end up like that person.

On that note, we are not stating that without any backup evidence. In fact, one of our team members did not care to wear any protection at all.

Hearing Protection For Shooters
Hearing Protection For Shooters

Now, after five years of frequent hunting and target practicing, he requires hearing aid devices. And we believe you do not want to end up like him, right?

What Is Hearing Protection For Shooting?

There is a high chance that you have seen shooters wearing a headphone before. Well, those are not for listening to music.

Instead, they are for dampening the noise from the rifle and lowering the damage done to the ears during shooting. And they are called ear muffs and are one kind of protection that is available for shooting.

On the other hand, there are earplugs. These are basically AirPods with an insane level of noise cancelation. But like the previous type, you will not be able to listen to music with these. The only work of these is to protect the ear from loud noises and lower the intensity of the shooting sounds.

Types of Earplugs

Among both kinds of hearing protection, earplugs have two distinctive types. And they are:

  • Foam Earplugs:

Like you might have guessed, these are going to be made of foam. The simple design makes them capable of offering a stellar overall seal.

And with a proper seal, the noise isolation level is going to see an increase as well. That is why these are so popular among shooters.

  • Rubber Earplugs

These are just like the rubber buds of your earphones. However, these will have no hole in the middle.

Even though plenty of ergonomic options are available, these do not usually make a proper seal on most of the ears. However, when it does, it works like a charm.

Types of Earmuffs

Like the earplugs, there are two different types of earmuffs as well. And a brief description of each of them is as follows:

  • Passive Earmuffs

These devices work by attenuating the wave of the sound. However, the material and the structure have an essential role to play here.

For example, if the structure is cup shape and the material is foam, the sound dampening capability will be highly praiseworthy.

  • Active Earmuffs

As the name suggests, these devices will require batteries. These are the electronic version of the passive ones.

The electronic components will rely on the microphone and create opposite frequency noise to cancel the noise of your surrounding.

How Does Hearing Protection Work?

Well, now that you know a bit about hearing protection, you might be wondering how do they actually work. Well, we have first-hand experience regarding these. And we know exactly how these work. So, without further ado, let us get into describing them, shall we?

Passive Earmuffs

As we have mentioned above, these are of a wide range of materials. And they do not have any electronic parts. Instead, they will work by relying on the construction material and the overall structure. Usually, most of these will be of foam and have a cupped structure.

The foam will do a proper job absorbing the sound waves and dampening them, while the structure will ensure that the sealing is appropriate.

If there is a bit of a leak on the cups, the noise will not get adequately dampened, which is why most manufacturers emphasize sealing the cups.

On that note, the cups are going to be made of foam. The rest of the body will be of a different material. Usually, the cover of the cups is going to be plastic. Also, there will be a headband, which can be either metal or plastic.

However, you will have no control over the isolation of the sound. That means if you want to listen to the sounds of your surrounding, you need to take the earmuffs off.

Active Earmuffs

The case is a little bit different for the active earmuffs. Even though some of them might look familiar and are of the same material as the passive ones, they will have electronics inside.

First, there will be several microphones. Those are going to pick up noise from your surrounding.

Now, you might be wondering why the earmuff needs to pick up the sound from the surrounding? Well, the answer is pretty simple.

It does that to create an opposite wave of sound, which will cancel the surrounding sound. And for this cancelation, it will also depend on an amplifier.

On that note, you are going to have complete control over the level of isolation. You can dial it down when you are not shooting.

That will let the sound from the surroundings get inside, which will come in handy when conversing with your mate. There will be no need to take the earmuffs off.


As you know by now, there are two different types of earplugs. One is the rubber earplugs, and the other is the foam type. The primary difference between these is the construction material. While one is entirely made of rubber, the other is of foam.

Now, even though there is a difference in terms of construction material, the main goal for both is the same. And that is to seal the ear canal.

However, the efficiency will vary a lot for both depending on the ear’s size and structure. And if these can cover the ear canal adequately, these are going to work like a charm.

But what benefit do these bring by covering the ear canal? Well, by covering the ear canal, these are basically going to block different sound waves and vibrations.

And if they can not go through your ear canal, you will not be able to hear them. For that reason, these have different ratings.

The ones that are for sleeping will have a different rating than the ones that are for shooting. You can not use one for another. They will simply not work.

How Are Ear Protection for Shooting Rated?

As we mentioned earlier, there are different ratings. And the ratings are a standard number, which you can compare easily. The rating is simply called NRR, which stands for Noise Reduction Rating.

For the earplugs, the highest NRR rating is 33. However, that is for the ones that can create a proper seal and can block off a specific type of vibrations properly. And the highest-rated earmuff that is available has a rating of 31. Now, you might be wondering why does the earmuff has a lower rating.

Well, the answer to that would be sealing. Even though the earmuffs might come with a proper electronic mechanism and amplifiers, they will not be able to make a complete seal. And as you know, if the seal is not good, some noise is sure to get inside.

Nevertheless, the difference between 31 and 33 is not that much and is not that little at the same time. Each of the acoustic energy usually doubles to every three decibels.

To illustrate, the protection device with an NRR of 23 will provide 200 percent less protection than the one with a rating of 29.

Considering that, we can state that the difference between 31 and 33 is not negligible but not enough to win over the other with flying colors.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Hearing Protection

There are a couple of things that must be in your consideration before making a purchase. By keeping those in mind, your chances of getting something that is actually worth it will be reasonably high.

So, without further ado, let us have a look at the things you need to consider before making a purchase decision:

  • NRR Rating

As you know by now, the NRR rating states how efficiently the device can block off the sound. The higher the rating, the better they will be capable of isolating your ears from noises. Considering that, we would recommend opting for the ones with a higher NRR rating.

  • Comfort

One of the key factors that should be in your consideration is comfort. If the device or the protector is not comfortable enough, it will be difficult for you to wear it for a prolonged amount of time.

And when you are out hunting or target practicing, you would want to wear these for a prolonged amount of time.

Considering the factor mentioned above, we would recommend giving the comfort a good amount of priority.

By getting something comfortable, your ears would remain protected throughout the entire hunting or target practice session without facing any discomfort at all.

  • Construction Material

As we mentioned earlier, the construction material will not be the same for each of the units. The same goes for the quality of the material.

Some will be of high-quality materials, while some will be of low to average quality materials. The ones that are of low to moderate quality units do not usually last that long.

On the other hand, the ones that are of high-quality materials will have a higher level of durability. For that reason, they hold the ability to withstand rough and harsh environments properly.

Also, thanks to the higher level of durability, you can get extended use out of them as well.

  • Battery Life

For the electronic earmuffs, you would need to consider the battery life. The better the battery life, the longer it will be able to operate with the same cell.

And with those, there will be no need to go through the hassle of replacing the batteries often, which is always a plus point.

Additionally, devices with a longer battery life should be capable of offering a longer run time. And longer run time can come in handy when you are out on a long trip or hunting session.


Some of the units are going to come with loads of additional features. Those are going to aim to offer things that the other units are not capable of offering. And those features can come in handy in different scenarios. So, we would definitely recommend checking the units with unique features.

  • Ear Muffs vs.Earplugs

You might be in a dilemma between earmuffs and earplugs. Well, you are not the only one. Even we faced this problem when we wanted to pick ear protection for our team. And these are the things we considered before making a purchase decision:


The earplugs have the ability to make proper ear sealing. Those can adequately block off the canals and hinder the soundwaves and vibrations from entering. On the other hand, there are not that many ear muffs that can create proper sealing on the ears.

  • Comfort

When it comes to comfort, many will find the earmuffs to be more comfortable. They are easy to wear and easy to detach. Also, the ones with better foam can contour to your ear and make you feel like you are not even wearing an extra piece of equipment on your head.

  • Budget

Last but not least, the earplugs are pretty inexpensive. They are highly accessible as well.

Final Words

Hopefully, we were able to make you understand the basic hearing protection for shooters.

And using the information you have gained in this article, we hope that you can keep your ears and those of your mates safe from permanent hearing loss.

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