Updated: May 26, 2020
The sound of gunshots can make anyone’s ears buzz, and sadly enough, this can translate into injuring your eardrums. While nothing might happen to you, if you hear gunshots occasionally, it is still a reasonable precaution to take while going out shooting with your friends and family.
If you’re someone passionate about shooting, then you might want to invest in shooting earplugs. Shooting earplugs can help you protect your eardrums from irreversible damage and also help you in pursuing something you are passionate about for a long time.
How Do Shooting Earplugs Work?
Shooting earplugs aren’t like your regular earplugs.
These earplugs are specially designed to eliminate the sound of gunfire from your ears and are specially designed to fit perfectly in your ears.
Some earplug designs allow you to hear sounds from fellow shooters but, at the same time, block the sound of gunfire.
Why Do You Need Protection?
Not using shooting earplugs can permanently damage your hearing ability, and it can do it much sooner than you would expect.
Cross-sectional studies have come to show that there is a 50% higher prevalence of HFHI among hunters who have reportedly fired 1-6 shots from hunting rifle caliber weapons from those who haven’t fired any shots without protection in the past five years. (Shooting History and presence of HFIH in Swedish hunters, 2020)
You may come across many shooters that prefer not to wear earplugs for their protection, and they might lead you to think that wearing or not wearing earplugs isn’t that big of a deal.
Our ears are one of our most significant assets, and by being reckless, you might just be risking yourself to disability. Losing our hearing ability can permanently change our lives and can also expose us to many risks; therefore, it is always better to play safe than sorry.
A study from Switzerland tried to analyze the connection between shooting firearms and HFHI (High-frequency hearing impairment). The study had a questionnaire filled by thousands of shooters, and a select few had to give a hearing test.
The questionnaire result showed that around 11% of the participants reported severe hearing loss, and 11% of the participants also described a complete loss of hearing.
Taking precautionary measures can help protect your ears from damage. One of the surprising results from this study was that it doesn’t really matter how many shots a person took and how frequently he took them. Naturally, different individuals have different levels of immunity, and there is knowing how one will react.
Sounds over 85 decibels can end up permanently damaging your hearing; this includes heavy traffic, concerts, and also shooting. It is, therefore, essential to protect yourself and wear shooting earplugs.
What Is NRR?
NRR is a system through which scientists analyze the effectiveness of ear protection devices. The NRR is a simple unit that can help you understand the ability of the earplugs for shooting range devices to keep noise out.
The measure tells you about the ability of the earplugs to keep loud voices out. Lots of different earplugs will have different NRR numbers while looking for a suitable shooting earplug you need to keep in mind that the higher the NRR number, the greater the ear protection.
If you want to get a little technical, then you can also use some maths to help you evaluate the overall decibel reduction. For any NRR number, you need to subtract it by seven and then divide it by two, for instance, if you have a shooting earplug with an NRR number of 55 then all you need to do to find out the number of decibels it blocks is by subtracting 55 by 7 and dividing it by 2.
= 55-7 = 48/2 = 24
What does 24 tell us? 24 is the amount of decibels the earplugs can filter out. Suppose if you have an earplug with an NRR rating of 55 and your gun and ammo produce 80 decibels while firing, then you will still be able to hear 80-24= 56 decibels, which means that you are exposed to 56 decibels.
Earplugs can only give you a limited amount of protection, with the highest level of protection being at 33. Wearing earplugs won’t completely protect your ears, and your eardrums will get damaged with exposure to high-frequency sounds. Currently, any noise above 85 decibels is dangerous.
What Can You Do To Protect Your Hearing?
There are a variety of options and a large variety of earplugs that you can invest in to protect yourself from ear damage. You can use customized earplugs that are made to lock out external sounds, or you can choose to invest in noise cancellation earplugs or reusable earplugs.
Below I’ve talked about some of the earplug options that you can use.
a) Customized Shooting Earplugs
b) Reusable Earplugs for Shooting
c) Electronic Earplugs
1. Customized Shooting Earplugs
If you’re looking for a set of soft earplugs that fit exactly against your ears, then custom designed earplugs will be perfect for you. Custom designed earplugs aren’t much different from disposable earplugs and can be used to block out the sounds from gunshots.
A custom-molded earplug is a laboratory manufactured earplug that is formed out of molds taken from experienced impression takers. Often these earplugs are made out of materials like silicone that can fit against the ear tightly and can even shift their shape to cause the owner minimum pain while wearing.
The most significant benefit of having earplugs like these is that they are reusable, and they are also adjustable against your ear. Your ear shape might not fit against the common ear shapes, which can cause you much hassle while trying to find the right type of earplugs for you.
Custom earplugs are great because they are long-lasting, and they are also soft, which means that you can end up using them for longer without having to worry about them getting obsolete.
Noise cancellation earplugs can end up putting you at risk in hunting environments, whereas custom earplugs can filter out some noise and still keep you alert about your surroundings. While wearing custom earplugs, you can quickly end up hunting alone.
Another option for the shooting is reusable earplugs. These types of earplugs are also made of soft materials like silicone. This material can also be easily cleaned and requires minimal maintenance.
These reusable earplugs can last you for at least three years. Earplugs that are cleaned regularly last longer than the earplugs that aren’t cleaned regularly. Most reusable earplugs can be custom molded, and if you’re looking for an earplug that fits perfectly against your ear, then your best bet is to invest in custom earplugs.
It might take you some time to be able to learn the ways through which you can adequately insert your earplug tightly against your ear. For the first week, you may have to use a lubricating gel, but once you are used to the earplugs, they will feel like a part of you, and you will be as aware of wearing them as you are aware of the rings on your finger.
With custom-fitted earplugs, you will not feel a sense of isolation from your other team members or fellow hunters, as is often the case with disposable earplugs.
3. Electronic Earplugs
These kinds of earplugs are great for those who are looking to invest in good quality earplugs. Electronic earplugs carry quite a few cool features with them. These earplugs provide you more than just protection.
Electronic earplugs can amplify lower-level sounds and bring down high level sounds like gunshots. These types of earplugs are often used in the military and armed forces and are professional pieces that can help preserve your eardrums while at the same time, keep you aware of your immediate surroundings.
These earplugs are also great for areas with fluctuating sound levels, and the constant high low sound level can end up damaging your ears. Electronic earplugs can help sort it out for you by monitoring the sound levels that come in your ears.
Most electronic earplugs are also water-resistant, which means that you can clean them with ease without worrying about breaking them.
Other Safety Precautions You Can Take While Going For Shooting
Hunting and shooting can be a thrilling game and can also be very fun and nerve-wracking, but it is always essential to keep a few safety measures in mind. Below I’ve compiled a list of safety tips that you should always keep in mind while going for hunting.
Tip #1 Always Let Someone Know Where You’re Going And When You’re Going To Come Back
You can quickly become too invested in the chase and get lost in a wild goose hunt after your prey. It can be a massive problem for your friends and family to find you, and it can also translate into weeks before you are located and rescued.
In the worst-case scenario, you may not even be able to survive out in the wild. Therefore, it is always best to let someone else know about your whereabouts.
Tip #2 Always Keep Your Guns In A Safe Direction
The last thing anyone would want is a gunshot injury because of carelessness or because of not being able to handle your ammunition carefully.
To protect yourself and your loved ones, it is always best to keep your equipment locked and in a safe place. It doesn’t take long for accidents to happen, and while you are armed with dangerous weapons, it is best to practice an extra level of caution and be alert.
Tip #3 Don’t Shoot Until You Are 100% Sure Of Your Target
The mark of a good hunter is his precision and accuracy in pinning down a target. Naturally, things can go wrong if you aim even slightly incorrectly, and in worst cases, you could end up shooting or harming someone you love.
The control of where your bullet ends up ends as soon as you pull the trigger because of this. It is ever so essential to practice your aim in centers before actually going out in the wild or the real world.
Tip 4# Wear Bright Colors
Wearing bright colors can let other people know about your presence and can naturally cause them to be alert and can also help rescuers identify you in case you get stranded in the wild.
If you take a dog with you, then make sure that your dog is also wearing bright colors. Also, for the safety of you and others around you, it is recommended not to hunt or shoot while drunk or intoxicated.
Tip#5 Prevention Is Better Than The Cure
Being careful of one’s surroundings and also taking care of yourself can help protect you from many accidents and mishaps. Always keep your mind prepared for the worst possible emergency; whenever you are going hunting, keep enough food to last you a couple of days if you end up being stranded.
Treat every gun as if it was loaded even if it isn’t because these powerful weapons don’t take long in taking anyone’s life or disabling anyone. Also, always try to hunt in a zone with telecommunication signals so that you are still able to communicate with people if you are stranded and also so you can be easily tracked and discovered.
Know all the necessary skills. You should know how to set up a tent and light a fire while using the bare minimum. These skills can help you immensely in campfire trips and can also help you survive. One way through which you can also stay legally safe is by complying with all state laws.
Hunting and shooting is an extreme sport and comes with its risks and thrills. You need to be careful about the whole game as it can end up causing safety problems and can also impair your hearing. Investing in the right equipment and wearing proper earplugs designed for shooting can help protect you from losing your hearing ability permanently.
Shooting earplugs have been designed after years of research. These kinds of earplugs are widely explored in the field of medicine.
These earplugs were specifically developed for assisting people having some form of hearing disability already. Some earplugs are made of silicone, and some of them are made out of polymers, which are safe to use by anyone and do not irritate the skin.