Doctors call it “acoustic trauma” and it happens when a person is exposed to sudden bursts of noise (over 130 dB for adults and 120 dB for children) loud enough to send sound energy into the inner ear
Acoustic trauma refers to damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve that is caused by exposure to loud noise. The loud noise can be a single, very loud noise (such as an explosion) or it can be exposure to loud noise over an extended period of time (such as working in a loud factory or attending loud concerts).
The damage caused by acoustic trauma can be temporary or permanent. Symptoms of acoustic trauma can include hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and difficulty understanding speech. In severe cases, acoustic trauma can cause a complete loss of hearing.
It is important to protect your ears from loud noise to prevent acoustic trauma. This can be done by wearing earplugs or other hearing protection devices, avoiding loud noises when possible, and limiting the amount of time spent in loud environments.
Continuous exposure to acoustic trauma results in hearing loss which is irreversible and without a cure. As a result, we create a list of products that offer the best ear protection for shooting.
At risk for this kind of injury are individuals who engage in shooting firearms as a form of leisure and relaxation. According to many studies, more Americans engage in target shooting and hunting than those who play baseball – the country’s national sport.
Shooting a gun can cause acoustic trauma, especially if the gun is fired in close proximity to the ear or without proper ear protection. The loud noise from a gun can reach decibel levels that are high enough to cause damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. This damage can be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the exposure.
It is important to always wear ear protection when shooting a gun to prevent acoustic trauma. This can include earplugs, earmuffs, or a combination of both. Some ear protection devices are designed specifically for shooting and can help to reduce the noise level while still allowing the shooter to hear other important sounds, such as commands from other shooters or the hunting dog.
It’s also important to note that even if you are wearing ear protection, repeated shooting over a long period of time, or being in close proximity to multiple guns being fired, can still cause acoustic trauma. In such cases, it’s recommended to take regular breaks, and use hearing protection devices specifically designed for shooting.
Even the simple air gun (or BB gun) which is used to hunt, scare pests, or used in sporting competitions has been included in the recommendation by the National Library of Medicine for use of ear protective gear.
Experts recommend ear protective gear for the following reasons:
- Hearing loss is gradual, difficult to recognize but cumulative and permanent
- The sensitive tissues in and around the ears do not heal in the same way as other human tissues can
- Even the partial loss of hearing affects speech
Top 5 Products Comparison
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Top 5 Ear Protection Equipment Reviews
1. Clear Armor 141001 Safety Ear Muffs
The 141001 Safety Ear Muffs from Clear Armor consistently lands on the lists of top protection ear gear for 2019.
It has one of the highest NRR rates at 34 dB and has been certified S3.19 and EN 352 which means its design is in accordance with the highest American and European standards in noise reduction and ear protection for ear muffs.
While this product is sold at a higher price than many other ear muffs in the market it is rightly justified by its performance and guaranteed to be unbreakable.
It is also an industrial grade and very comfortable.
The other features that make this pair of ear muffs stand out include:
- Single swivel cup design with ¼ inch thick noise dampening foam and 1/2 inch headband padding
- Adjustable headband with Snug Fit to avoid improper fit
- Extremely light at 9.4 ounces
- Does not require batteries
Also noticeable is the fine craftsmanship used so you can expect nothing to come unglued since the company assembled using real screws.
Clearly a leader in ear protection, this provides some of the best protection for shooting in order to prevent acoustic trauma.
2. Pro For Sho 34dB (PAS-BL)
It’s functional and offers one of the highest hearing protection ratios at 34 dB NRR. The high-density Shooting Ear Protection earmuffs from Pro for Sho has noise cancellation, a solid design that is surprisingly light and compact.
More importantly, it has a money back guarantee and uses a material that is scratch-proof and water resistant. It easily adjusts to any head size and can be worn for hours without feeling any discomfort.
This product is a classic case of a simple over-performing product that won’t take your breath away with its design but will make you keep coming back to it because it is dependable and well-made.
3. Honeywell’s Howard Leight Impact Sport
Howard Leight is a brand of safety products by Honeywell and known for their HearForever campaign.
Although Howard Leight has many hearing safety products, it is the folding, battery-powered Impact Sports earmuffs in Hunter Green that truly does an exemplary job in protecting your ears.
Some of the features of this full-sized earmuffs that you will undoubtedly appreciate include:
- Air Flow Control, a patented technology that reduces sound vibration, leakage, and penetration
- VeriPRO earplug testing system which is able to check the effectiveness of the earplug
- QuietDose patented technology
- Automatic shut-off after 4 hours
- Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 22
- Automatic shut off of loud noise and brings it down to 82 dB without compromising volume of range commands and conversation
- Water resistant
- Low profile ear cup design
- Comes with an auxiliary jack so you can hook up to scanners and an MP3 player
- One control knob for volume and power
This product requires three triple A batteries which are provided and the design is made with easy adjustment so it can comfortably fit any head size with a few manual adjustments.
4. Walkers Game Ear Pro-Low Profile Ear Muffs
This folding black earmuff from Walker’s Game Ear which is specifically made for shooting sports and hunting.
Being low profile, expect the design to be closely fitted to the head and narrower which also means your overall all is clean, not bulky, and uncluttered. Plus, it’s easier to carry around
It has an NRR of 31 which compensates for the lack of a noise cancellation feature. Wearing these earmuffs, you will appreciate the soft, high-quality material used which helps if you plan on using it for extended periods.
Other features that led to this product’s inclusion in our list of best ear protection gear include:
- ANSI S3.19 rated
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Does not requires batteries
- Good sound attenuation
On the downside, this is not something you can expect to keep for life. It serves its purpose well but is not recommended for those with large heads.
5. Ear Defense 3000 Safety Ear Muffs
If you are the type of person who perspires a lot, you will love this Ear Defense 3000 Safety Ear Muffs.
They are designed to keep your ears cool and prevent neck strain. They are lightweight at only 4 ounces but made with durable material that can handle a little rough wear and tear.
The features that prove this to be one of the best in the market include:
- Swivel cup engineering
- Adjustable headbands
- ANSI S3.19 and CE ENF 521 certified for noise cancellation and reduction
- Adjustable padding
- 30 dB rating
- Replacement foam available
- No batteries needed
In conclusion, all these products work great for shooting recreational activities like hunting and target shooting and any one of them would accomplish the purpose of protecting you from acoustic trauma which brings the choice down to price, brand, and whether you want a passive ear protection for shooting or one that requires batteries.