Safety Rules: Protect Your Ears When Shooting and Hunting




No doubt safety rules in shooting comes first. If you are shooting lover or regular shooter, you already know the things that how many hazards this fun thing can bring and how much threatening this can be for your sense organs. One of such organs you surely need to protect is your ear.

Safety Rules for Ear Protection When Shooting and Hunting

Hearing protection is a must while you’re shooting or hunting. Otherwise, you may end up with deafness or temporarily or permanently hearing loss. There are some certain set of guidelines for maintaining due protection to hearing that you surely need to follow if you are going for a shooting time. Also you can get idea about proper range bag essentials which help you a lot for preparing full checklist for shooting range.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) which works as an advocacy group of shooting has also published a detailed guide for ensuring better safety in hearing. Are you up to know the details about that? Then stay with me and grab a cup of coffee. This might be a bit long write up, but trust me; this one will be useful for you.

How Can Shooting Harm My Ear?

Well, you already know the answer if you are a pro. This question is only from the beginners. Okay, let’s start with basic science.

You know sound generates from a vibration and its energy is measured in a unit known as decibel (db). Our normal conversation sound produces a range of 60 db and any sound around this range is never harmful to you. Even your ear is usually capable of tolerating sounds up to 85 db. But, when it will exceed 85 db, it will start giving pain to your eardrum.

Protect My Ear During Shooting

Scientists consider any sound having energy level above 85 db as a noise. If there is a person standing 3 feet away from you but you can’t hear what they are saying due to any sound around you. Then, that sound will be known as a damaging one for your ear. We have around 15,000 hair cells in each of our ears.

Exposure of any loud sound like fire shot can damage those cells instantly or with time being, and ultimately results into hearing loss. A single gunshot or ricochet from a small .22 caliber rifle is able to generate sound with energy up to 140 db which is also equal to the sound of jet plane taking off. More than 175 db ranged sound comes from a pistol and big bore rifle.

Shotguns are also threatening for hearing. That’s why study shows that people involving in shooting or hunting are more prone to lose their hearing ability causing temporary or permanent deafness. This phenomenon is known as Noise-Induced Hearing Loss or in short NIHL. In case of NIHL, you won’t be able to hear high frequency ranged sounds like f, sh, h, ch, c, s, etc. soft sounds.

You are going to have a great problem while communicating. Another problem regarding hearing due to shooting is tinnitus. According to American Tinnitus Association, in America, around 50 million people suffer from this problem and 42% of it is due to first shot sounds. Should we then stop shooting forever? Isn’t there any remedy of getting protection for hearing in a shooting range? We will find that out in our next session.

How Can I Protect My Ear During Shooting?

Well, that’s very definite and also very easy task to protect your ear and hearing during shooting session. All you just need is to use a safe protecting ear device so that you can block the heavy sound coming in your ear.

There are different types of such devices. You should choose the best one that will work most effectively for you. You can also look for the comfort when choosing any of such devices. Then what are those devices all I am talking about? Here they are.


The most common and mostly used hearing protection device is earplug. It is very simple in construction but provides great service to shooters for ensuring protection. You just need to put it place in your ear canal and that’s all. They are commonly easy to mold in nature.

earplugs for ensuring ear protection

Earplugs used for hearing protection by shooters are mainly of four types considering the formation type.

  • Foam earplugs, made of PVC or other polymers and easily folded to set in the ear canal.
  • Silicon earplugs, relatively softer than the others.
  • Wax earplugs, relatively harder and need to get squeezed by fingers before putting it inside the ear canal.
  • Flange earplugs, specially designed items made from different materials.

Apart from these four types, there is another special earplug known as custom molded earplug, and they are suitable for the ear shape of all the users. Due to their very simple design, earplugs are also cheaper in price. Moreover, they are also easily portable and you won’t face any hassle while using them.


Another handy device to block the extra sound of fire shot and protect your hearing is earmuff and a must have item in your shooting range bag. It is a pair of ear defender made with soft pad and covers your ear around the head joining with a band. It’s just like a headphone.

Earmuff has different like ear defender or acoustic earmuff etc. Apart from the headband design, another design of such defender is also available, clipping on the hat or cap.

Earmuff for ensuring maximum protection during hunting

There are some models available in the market that are connected with the headphones and let the users not only enjoy the shooting but also completing other ones like listening to music, communicating with others, hearing the tutorial or directions, etc. at the same time.

Again, some earmuffs are also attached with earplugs for ensuring the maximum protection to your hearing. All of these are the modification of earmuffs.ensuring the maximum protection to your hearing

If we think about the basic types, then there are mainly two types of earmuffs while working as an ear defender. This classification of EarPro is made considering mainly two basic factors, the blocking capacity of the earmuffs and the material used for that purpose.

If the construction design of an earmuff is like that it can attenuate the sound energy just due to the construction material used in it, then that type of earmuff will be known as Passive attenuating earmuff.

On the other hand, another type is known as active sound reduction earmuff. They are mainly electronic devices and attenuate the sound energy of very low frequency. The NRR range of these earmuffs is around 26 db NRR. It contains a circuit, a microphone, and a speaker along with the body.

When any unnecessary disturbing sound enters the device, electronically it generates another sound automatically which is 180-degree opposite phase of the entering sound.

Thus, the sound gets canceled out, and the device protects your ear. In short, earmuff is another very safe option to rely by any shooter.

As you have already heard about the term NRR, a very obvious question pops out in your mind for sure.

What is NRR and What Relationship it has on Choosing Your Ear Defender?

Noise Reduction Rate is shortly known as NRR and this rating is one of the most important factors to look about while you are going to purchase any ear defender.

NRR measures the ability of any ear protection devices to block or reduce the level of sound. This rating is measured in decibel as like the energy of sound. The higher rating of NRR means the higher security of the device and better protection to your ear by the safeguard device.

There is an agency to measure the NRR rating of ear protection devices and it’s known as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Normally NRR rating gets varied with the variations of ear defenders and their models.

But according to EPA, an ear protecting device should have minimum NRR rating of 22 db. It can range up to 33 db and even more than that for devices with military specifications.

It’s up to you which earpro device you are looking for considering the NRR rating and the locations of your shooting-indoor or outdoor.

Another typical confusion before choosing ear guard is which one will be better between earmuff and earplug? Here is your answer-

Which One to Choose between Earmuff and Earplug for Shooting Safety?

Normally the function of both devices is same, protecting your hearing in the shooting range.

Earmuff is a bit bulkier one and you may feel uncomfortable carrying such a big thing over your head, especially during the summer.

Earmuff vs Earplug Which one is better for shooting

Then you can simply switch yourself to Earplug. This one is very easy to put inside your head, no hassle of carrying over the head, the easy choice as a portable defender, and during shooting, you can also protect yourself from the uncomfortable sweating as it’s not a bulky one like earmuff.

But there are many models of Earmuffs where there is anti-swearing cover and you won’t feel uncomfortable anymore using them.

Moreover, earmuffs provide some other exclusive facilities like more filtration of noisy sounds and better protection for your ear than earplugs.

You can also communicate with your teammates or hear the commands during shooting or hunting if you can simply connect a microphone embedded with the earmuff.

Besides all of them, there is another great feature of some earmuff models as they have sound regulation system via electronic support.

You can choose whether to increase the noise reduction or not. Sometimes it turns to be a very helpful as you may need to hear some sounds around you while shooting. You won’t get such facilities while using an earplug rather than earmuff.

So basically you can’t ignore any of them as both have some unique features to get included in your cart. Again I have to say the same thing; it’s up to you which one you are going to choose for your usage.

What are the Famous Brands of Ear Defenders in Market?

There is a very potential market of hearing protection devices as shooting is really very popular as a sport or pastime along with other forms of the same like hunting, paintball gaming, etc. and people also care about their safety while doing these.

Both Earmuff and Earplug industries have many popular names as those ear guards manufacturing brands.

  • ClearArmor
  • 3M Peltor Series
  • Howard Leight
  • Decibel Defense, etc. are worldwide famous bands of Earmuffs that can ensure you the best services.

Again, Moldex, Howard Leight, Hearos, etc. provide you quality memory soft earplugs. If you want to purchase silicon made earplug, then Mack’s Pillow, Bio Ears, Eargasm, Sound tight, Sunfire, etc. will be the best options for you.

In case of flanged earplug, you can go anyone from Sound tight, Pro Vibes, LiveMus!c HearSafe, Etymotic Research, etc.

Some of these brands manufacture both the earmuffs and all types of earplugs. Different models come up with distinctive attributes and unique features to meet your demands and ensure the safest shooting time you ever can have.

Final Verdict

In most of the cases, Hearing loss and defect don’t come up overnight or any sudden way. They are cumulative phenomenon. It takes a gradual build up to grow your hearing disability. If you are a shooting lover person, then you are on the verge of the risk. You need to very much careful about shooting safety rules, especially for your hearing protection.

If you ignore you today, you may suffer tomorrow. Don’t look down upon this issue, unless you may regret in future. Ensure the maximum security for this sensitive organ. You won’t need to worry about anymore. Thanks for being with the article. Shoot! Enjoy!

  • Updated January 23, 2021
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