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Old April 5, 2012, 10:56 PM   #1
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Electronic ear muffs

Recently coming back from the range, I got pretty scared that I'd done some hearing damage.

I was just wearing rubber ear plugs, but didn't have them seated in very well. The 9mm sound was loud but didn't bother me/wasn't painful. I was shooting in a partially covered firing line with half walls.

When shooting at an indoor range i doubled up muffs/plugs.

At the outdoor range, just wore plugs last time but was out in the open and didn't experience any issues.

While in the Army I'd have plugs fall out at the range and not put them back in until I had the chance and that 223 is loud, but no problems.

Anyway after the range, I had the occasional buzzing sound very lightly and I couldn't hear very soft sounds.

Been about 5 days now and I feel like I'm all better. While riding my bicycle the other day I had something pop/crack in my ear and since then I've been fine.

What happened to me and how about these ear muffs for future use? Next time I go to the range I'm wearing plugs and muffs if not these electronic ones. What do you think?
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Old April 6, 2012, 07:23 AM   #2
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In terms of protection (comfort is another matter, and everyone is going to be different) the only thing you need to know about either plugs or muffs is how much noise they attenuate, which is their NRR (noise reduction rating). NRR is measured in decibels (abbreviated as dB) - so a plug that has an NRR of, for example, 26, reduces the outside noise by 26 decibels. There's a difference in noise reduction depending on the actual frequency of the sound in question, but the standard procedure for determining NRR takes that into account.

Simply, the higher the NRR the better. Foam plugs alone actually do a very good job and many have an NRR of 30 or higher. Many muffs alone do not do as well. Doubling up of course is the best, but (not that it matters a great deal) the NRR is not additive - in other words, adding NRR 24 muffs to NRR 30 plugs doesn't result in an NRR of 54. Remember that the decibel scale is logarithmic, so every 3 decibels represents a doubling or halving of sound energy, and the difference between an NRR of 27 and 30 may not sound like much but is significant.

The particular Howard Leight muffs shown in your post have an NRR of 22 - that's not particularly good. In general, all of the less expensive electronic muffs have comparatively low NRRs, and even the high-end electronic muffs rarely equal the protection of either plugs or good quality non-electronic muffs. That said, if you always plan to wear them doubled up with plugs they'd probably be fine. That assumes that you wear both the plugs and the muffs properly, of course. I know some shooters who double up and turn the volume all the way up on the electronic muffs so they can hear range commands and also for general range awareness. That's a good strategy, but you can sure go through some batteries that way - I use a pair of Peltor Tac 7s, and they just eat up 9V batteries.
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Old April 6, 2012, 08:31 AM   #3
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I was just wearing rubber ear plugs, but didn't have them seated in very well.
Put in the plugs properly and they are excellent hearing protection. Agreed, double with muffs is better.
As far as the electronics go, get high quality ones. El Cheapos just don't do the job.
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Old April 6, 2012, 09:09 AM   #4
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I am now wearing Pro Ears Ultra passives NRR 33. I got them to see if the brand was comfortable on my head before spending the money on their electronics to replace my dear departed old Peltors. They are comfortable but I just haven't gotten around to buying the corresponding electronics.
My spares are Peltor Ultimate 10 NRR 30 and a supply of foam plugs.

I have had the silicone molded to fit plugs and they were neither quiet nor comfortable. Maybe the ones done by an audiologist instead of a gun dealer would do better, but they are very expensive.
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Old April 6, 2012, 11:11 AM   #5
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Sorry for the preamble to the post about me and my hearing scare.

Point caught my attention and is causing me to be more serious about hearing protection.

I'm familiar with the NRR numbers.

What is the acceptable minimum to protect hearing adequately? I know we're all different physiologically but there should be a minimum. What point is overkill (excessive protection)?

I wasn't overly impressed with the shown ear muffs rating of 22, but thought I'd wear plugs and them. Ideas? I don't want to go cheap but I also don't want to geek out and get a super expensive set. I've got traditional muffs as well.

I think I'm going to keep the electronic muffs AND wear plugs.

Found good info here:
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Last edited by checkmyswag; April 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM.
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Old April 6, 2012, 10:34 PM   #6
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These recommendations might help - . The required hearing protection is obviously going to depend on your environment.

I think that overkill is when you're wearing so much protection that you can't hear range commands or warning sirens. For example, there are a few members of my local range who have some existing hearing loss and now double plug. They usually make the effort to shoot near the buzzer and pay attention to the line, but sometimes they miss the cease fire and will continue shooting because they can't hear the signals. So that's a consideration.

The Leight Sports are decent muffs, I have two pair. But as FlyFish stated, they don't have a high NRR. And they're shallow, so plugs that stick out too far, or have a stem will poke the inner wall. This is uncomfortable and tends to dislodge the plug. I'd go with a deeper muff for double plugging.

The effectiveness of both muffs and plugs relies on the quality of the seal they form. If you're double plugging, and want the maximum protection, don't use plugs w/ a joining cord as this will interfere with the muff's seal.
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Old April 7, 2012, 09:10 AM   #7
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If you look up in the dictionary Shooting Hearing Loss, you'll see my picture.

I can't hear POOP. At matches I can't hear the buzzard, whistle, or any commands when wearing hearing protection. I either have to wait until someone fires a shot to know the time has started or if shooting a stage by my self, as in action pistol, I have to get a shoulder tap.

Some events you start from the "surrender position" meaning your hands up. In that case I raise my hands and take my non firing hand up to my head and life that side's ear muff, then drop it as the timer goes off.

Electronic hearing protection does work. Problem is in steel matches I can't hear the ringing of steel, some times I think I hit it but didn't, MISS, some times I hit it and don't know so I shoot it two or three times to make sure. Really screws up your time.

My electronic hearing protectors shut down like their suppose to and remain shut down so I can't hear ringing steel.

If you use electronic hearing protectors carry extra batteries. When you get to the range you'll find out the last time you were shooting, you left them on and the battery is dead.
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Old April 8, 2012, 10:45 PM   #8
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Plan on getting out this weekend.

Going with the muffs shown plus foam plugs.

Should work well, will post update here.
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Old April 8, 2012, 11:21 PM   #9
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I have a pair of those Impact muffs. They're ok but I find myself turning the volume up to hear what going on around me. I'm not real impressed by them. I ordered a pair of Peltor Ultimate 10 NRR 30's Friday from Amazon and await their arrival.
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Old April 9, 2012, 01:09 AM   #10
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I have some low-cost ProEars. Apparently they are missing some of the features (like using them with an MP3 player) and don't have as high a NRR as their Gold models, but they do amplify sounds nicely and they do clamp quickly.

I've found that even a NRR of 22dB is fine when doubled with foam ear plugs. The foam ear plugs have a NRR of 30dB, and combined with the muffs two things are true (for me) -

1. I can still hear others talking at the range, if the volume is turned up all the way. As we all act as RO's, "Range is cold!" is something you need to hear.

2. The combined damping is sufficient to sit right next to a guy with a .300 Win Mag and it doesn't bother me. Well, maybe the concussion wave is a little disturbing, but at least my ears are fine.

The other feature I like about the ProEars is that the batteries are easy to change without tools, as the battery holders are inside the earcups, under foam. This is much easier than prying the outside of the ear cups apart, IMO.
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Old April 9, 2012, 09:41 AM   #11
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We also use the Impact muffs. I think they work good. I'm hearing impaired (2 hearing aids) and these allow me to communicate while shooting. The wife usually doubles up with plugs, but she's always done that. I think that came from her first shooting a revolver.
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