How To Protect Your Hearing When Shooting

Recently the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) was introduced to remove suppressors from the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA). This means that citizens who exercise their Second Amendment rights no longer have to pay a tax to protect their hearing while doing so! You can read more about the Hearing Protection Act here.

Besides using a suppressor, there are other methods you should keep in mind to protect your hearing when you are at the range or out hunting. If you do not take hearing protection seriously, you could suffer the consequences long term.

Just to put the effect that shooting can have on your hearing into perspective, being exposed to noise at or above 85 decibels consistently can cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). A shot fired from a 9mm pistol is estimated to be 160 decibels…that is louder than a jet taking off, which is estimated at 140 decibels!

Signs that your hearing might have been affected by loud noise, include:

  • Muffled sounds.
  • Having difficulty distinguishing words when someone is talking to you.
  • Having difficulty determining from which direction a sound is coming.
  • A ringing or buzzing noise in your ears.

How Shooting Affects Your Hearing
Source: Smoking Barrel USA-Hearing Protection

As the graphic above shows, there are practical and effective ways to protect your hearing. The cheapest option is to use earplugs that you stick into your ears. They are reasonably effective while also being cost effective. If you shoot regularly and want a bit more effective protection, you should really consider investing in a good pair of earmuffs. Earmuffs fit over your ears and provides more protection than earplugs do. If you decide to use earmuffs, you can either get regular passive earmuffs or you can invest in electronic earmuffs. Electronic earmuffs are more expensive than passive earmuffs, but have built in technology that can regulate noise levels. This means that when someone is talking to you, it allows the softer noise of the person’s voice through, but when a loud noise from a gunshot occurs it automatically reduces the noise level to protect you. Some of the electronic earmuffs also have facilities built in to allow you to listen to MP3’s, which can be a nice feature for those who like to listen to music while they are out at the range practising.

The most effective way to really protect your hearing though is to wear earplugs and earmuffs together. Wearing them together results in a combined noise reduction that you would not get if you wear them individually.

Wrapping Up


Noise from gunshots are far in excess of the noise level that is tolerable to the human ear. Consistent exposure to such loud noises will result in noise-induced hearing loss, which could be permanent. Whenever you are firing a gun, please look after your hearing health and employ ear protection so that your hearing does not suffer the long term consequences.

Happy shooting!

This article was contributed by SmokingBarrelUSA.com

3 thoughts on “How To Protect Your Hearing When Shooting

  1. Pingback: How To Protect Your Hearing When Shooting - TACTICAL LIFE GEAR

  2. I agree that protecting your hearing is important. I have some hearing loss already. I use good quality passive ear muffs when firing at the range, but I do not like the idea when I am hunting. Mostly I hunt rabbits with a .22 or deer with a .308 with a 16″ barrel. When deer hunting I hopefully would not need to fire more than 2 shots in any given day. It is unlikely when I hunt rabbits that I would fire more than 6-7 shots in a day. Can this limited shooting effect your hearing very much?

  3. Aaron, hearing protection doesn’t add like the graphic says. Basically, adding plugs under muffs increases the NRR by 5. So plugs plus 25 NRR muffs equals 30 NRR.

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