How to Choose Ear Protection for Hunting
Hearing is rather vulnerable to damage from louder noises, therefore hunters are particularly prone to noise induced hearing loss. Since a good sense of hearing is extremely important for our general well-being, it’s crucial to protect your ears when being exposed to very noisy environments (such as shooting and hunting). Hearing aids have become improved over the years, but they still aren’t as good as normal hearing. Let’s take a look at the most common hearing protection options to help you choose the best shooting ear protection for your own needs.
Foam Ear Plugs – This is the cheapest and simplest type of hearing protection with a wide range of products available on the market. Pros of foam ear plugs are their size, price and versatility. Nonetheless, they have many cons too. First of all, foam ear plugs can protect only the ear canal, while the sensitive bones outside the ear remain unprotected. In especially loud environments that can damage your hearing too. Furthermore, people often wear foam ear plugs incorrectly; they don’t insert them deeply enough into the ear canal (this is especially true for people with smaller ears) and they cannot provide the guaranteed level of protection. Finally, this hearing protection dampens all noises, not just the loud ones and that’s rather unpractical for hunting.
Impulse ear plugs – Although these aren’t designed as hearing protection for hunting, they work rather well as such. If they’re used in the noise activated mode, impulse ear plugs still allow the hunter to hear ambient noise rather well, while protecting against too loud noise. Even though impulse ear plugs are a good product, they don’t provide a very high level of overall protection, which is why most hunters don’t use them frequently.
Earmuffs – This type of hearing protection is seriously better than ear plugs. Not only are ear muffs simple and easy to use properly, but they also protect sensitive bones behind the eardrums. In extremely loud environments, earmuffs can be combined with foam ear plugs for extra protection. One of the disadvantages of earmuffs is that they are difficult to wear with headgear such as a helmet. In addition, this protection blocks out all levels of noise.
Electronic Earmuffs – With a significant increase in performance, electronic earmuffs for shooting protect your hearing, while improving it at the same time (extreme noises are blocked out, whereas quieter noises are amplified). This hearing protection work well when hunting and at the range; you are able to talk to your fellow hunter or to hear a dear, while at the same time your hearing remains protected. Being earmuffs, they provide protection to the delicate bones of hearing too.
Electronic Ear Plugs – Similar to electronic earmuffs, electronic ear plugs are great at blocking loud noises, while at the same time they amplify all other sounds. They are more portable and smaller than earmuffs and you can wear them with any headgear. However, they do not provide protection outside the ears and that’s why are more recommended for hunters than for shooters. Additionally, they are rather costly.
If noise is louder than 85 decibels, it can lead to hearing loss; the noise that’s loud enough could even immediately damage your hearing. Depending on the load, a gunshot blast is approximately 120-190 decibels. And, as I’ve already mentioned, hearing loss induced by loud noise is permanent. Expensive hearing aids can improve the quality of those with hearing issues, but won’t make you hear as before. For all these reasons, it’s crucial to protect your hearing, especially when you know you’ll be in a noisy environment. Luckily, with so many methods available, it will be easier for you to both enjoy your outdoor activities and protect your hearing.