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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm fairly new to shooting and although I have been to a local shooting center to get the feel of some different guns (ended up buying the SR9). I've always rented a set of earmuffs there and even though it's not stupidly expensive to do so, I'd rather have my own. I'd like a better quality and the fact that they are mine.

There is an almost overwhelming assortment of hearing protection out there and I'm looking for some guidance on what features might be the most important. I'd like to be able to be in the range long enough to get a couple hundred shots off without getting a headache.

Thanks - DrivewaySmoker
 

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I'm fairly new to shooting and although I have been to a local shooting center to get the feel of some different guns (ended up buying the SR9). I've always rented a set of earmuffs there and even though it's not stupidly expensive to do so, I'd rather have my own. I'd like a better quality and the fact that they are mine.

There is an almost overwhelming assortment of hearing protection out there and I'm looking for some guidance on what features might be the most important. I'd like to be able to be in the range long enough to get a couple hundred shots off without getting a headache.

Thanks - DrivewaySmoker
I'm a fan of Lee Sonic Ear Valves. They have a spring valve that opens so you can hear things, but closes on loud bursts.

The latest version is called Health Enterprises ACU-LIFE Shooter's Ear Plugs (Sonic Valve II)

Great in the ears under a shooter's ear muff (Mickey Mouse Ears) or alone.

Radio George
 

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I was stupid and didn't wear hearing protection when I was hunting, and only wore cheap earplugs when target shooting. If you frequent an indoor range I would suggest getting the best ear protection you can afford. I do have some hearing loss as a result.

The reason I like my own earmuffs is because I don't know if the range has disinfected them between uses. My wife got some ear issues once that the doctor suspected came from sharing earmuffs at the place she worked.

I have a Primos electronic ear muff that I bought to use strictly for hunting. It magnifies sound so you can hear animals walking up, or if you are at the range you can talk to others without lifting your muffs off all the time. They work OK and I think I bought them for about $80. I got the camo ones, but they come in black or red I believe. Only problems I have had is on a windy day and trying to wear them with broad brimmed hats. OK with baseball style hats.

At the indoor range I don't think they have enough of a decibel differential to be as protective as just straight sound-damping ear muffs. In that situation I put in good ear plugs in addition to the muffs.

They are a good investment. As are shooting glasses. You can't replace your eyes or your hearing.
 

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When you are hunting or using a gun in self defense your hearing is protected by adrenaline. When we are excited our bodies release adrenaline. Adrenaline causes our upper nervous system to shut down. Moreover, hearing loss is accumulative. One would have to shoot a gun a lot without hearing protection to suffer hearing loss. If you live in a city you encounter something louder than a gunshot everyday. In fact, most busy freeways are louder than a gunshot. Yet people live to ripe old age in cities without suffering hearing loss from the environment.
Hearing Protection: Your Body's Fight or Flight Response Helping You

When you buy hearing quality hearing protection it shows how much sound reduction that particular device is capable of providing. Find a device that is comfortable to you and provides adequate protection. Foam ear plugs that are OSHA approved provide more than enough protection to prevent hearing loss while shooting a gun. Plain foam ear plugs that are OSHA approved provide 33 decibels of sound reduction. You can get a bottle of OSHA approved ear plugs at Tractor Supply or many hardware stores for $10 that will last for years. I prefer ear muffs but I always have some ear plugs with me in event I am attacked by cans, golf balls or I just forget my ear muffs.
 

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I use two layers, plugs and muffs. Check the db reduction rating on protection devices before you buy, the more the better. I think the squishy foam plugs work the best but they are a pain to remove and put back in so I got three ring rubber plugs on a string. Between the plugs and the muffs I get about a -70 db reduction.
 

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Having your own ear protection makes sense for hygienic reasons. You do not know who last wore the pair you just rented from your range.

When you look for any type of hearing protection chose those that have the highest possible so called noise reduction number (NR). The higher the number the better noise reduction. I would look for at least NR 30

Some people use foam plugs, but the shape of my ear canal does make them fall out, so I use silicon ear plugs that have been custom molder to fit my ears. You can find some places that will custom fit them to your ears, but you can also get a DIY kit on the internet. Check shooting accessories places like Cabela's or Midway. These plugs are good enough for me at outdoor ranges.

For indoor ranges I "double bag" my ears with the plugs and ear muffs. Again, the higher the NR number the better (NR >30). You can use regular ear muffs (shooting or industrial) or ones that have electronic amplifiers. The latter ones will let you hear any range commands clearly (even with ear plugs under them) while they will shutoff the high-decibel noise from gun shots. Hunters like them too because they amplify any ambient noise (approaching deer!) but will protect your ears when the rifle is fired. Hope it helps with your quest.
 

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I've been happy with the Howard Leight L3 muffs. They are quite comfortable, NR30, and I got them on sale at Cabela's for $20. At the indoor range I usually double up with foam plugs too.
 

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There is an almost overwhelming assortment of hearing protection out there and I'm looking for some guidance on what features might be the most important. I'd like to be able to be in the range long enough to get a couple hundred shots off without getting a headache.
You kind of touch on what's important. That they reduce sound enough to where you aren't bothered. Personally, if you just shoot handguns, I would go with something like these:

http://www.amazon.com/3M-Peltor-Over--Earmuffs-X5A/dp/B00CPCHBCQ

They are inexpensive, have a 31NRR, and you could double up with foam plugs if you needed/wanted. If you are shooting rifles, they could be in the way, though. If you are renting muffs now, I suspect these will be a big step up. I have heard Howard Leight muffs are also quite good, but I've mainly used 3M and Peltors so I tend to stick with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all the feedback. I got a change to try a pair of the Howard Leight electronic earmuffs (not sure what particular model) at a Sothern Region Venturing event this weekend - I was amazed at the level of amplification on quiet sounds and how well it blocked the loud, sharp noises. I think I'm leaning towards something like that, but I'll also be keeping several pairs of the foam plugs in the bag as well.
 

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I go for the highest level of protection possible. There are too many old-timers around our range with hearing aids because in the old days it was uncool to protect your ears.

I either use both indoor and outdoor (clay shooting).
PELTOR OPTIME III SNR 35dB as muffs
UVEX X-FIT SNR 37dB as earplugs

I feel no need to combine both, I would however if all 10 ranges in our club would be filled with ppl shooting 44 mag :)
 

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Amplified earmuffs with the foamies also works well. If you want to spend some bucks for more comfort and better protection, get the Sport Ears.
 

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Thanks for all the feedback. I got a change to try a pair of the Howard Leight electronic earmuffs (not sure what particular model) at a Sothern Region Venturing event this weekend - I was amazed at the level of amplification on quiet sounds and how well it blocked the loud, sharp noises. I think I'm leaning towards something like that, but I'll also be keeping several pairs of the foam plugs in the bag as well.
+1 on the Howard Leight electronic muffs. Remember to throw extra batteries in your range bag.
 
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