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Hearing Protection for the New Shooter

When the new firearms student has learned the classroom lessons, they will inevitably make it to the firing line. Unfortunately, if this is a standard, public, indoor range- it has the potential to make a very negative first impression. Letting them know to expect loud bangs may seem obvious, but if they happen to have a neighbor shooting 12 gauge slugs in the lane next to them, it will have been an understatement. Even with amazing hearing protection, that type of concussive wave creates a real 3D experience. So, let's learn about options to give them the highest chance of enjoying the actual shooting experience.


Three factors stand out in our consideration:

  • dB rating ~ How much sound does it suppress?

  • Comfort ~ How long can you wear it before you want it off?

  • Function ~ Does it help or hinder your activities?


Standard "Ears" the range will provide. AKA Earmuffs

These over-the-ears headsets work really well. They are usually around $30 for 30 dB and do an excellent job in the noise reduction. As for comfort, it really depends on the fit of headset to the size and shape of the students head. For function... this is mixed. "Great" for not hearing the bangs, and "Not Great" if you want to hear your instructor. We will talk loud enough, just try to aid with some lip reading. NOTE: these are also "Not Good" when shooting rifles , where a cheek weld is obstructed by the ear muff.


Also Note: these come in a great variety of ratings (30dB / 27dB / 24dB / Etc), which will also affect price. Probably best to err on the high side (30dB) for new shooters.


If, for any reason, the student is EXTRA sensitive, it's very easy to 'double up' with the next option. Many simply use these by themselves, but it's good to know you have options.

Disposable soft foam ear plugs can have a similarly high rating of protection. For about $14 you can get 100 pairs that provide up to 32dB.

NOTE: they have be inserted correctly and allowed to expand to achieve their highest rating. And yes, you can choose just about any color.



A close variant to this is the re-usable, silicone types that uses miniature sound baffles (looks like mushroom heads). Amazon currently shows these at about $17 for 100 pairs that purportedly offer 32dB of protection.


Stepping up to those which score higher in the functionality range, are the electronically enhanced versions of these two types (over the ear vs. inside the ear). These get a more full review based on those purchased for Apex Tactical Training.


Apex Tactical Training : REVIEW Walker's Rope Hearing Enhancer w/Bluetooth (GWP-RPHE-BT)

Apex Tactical Training: REVIEW






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