There are many reasons you might want to spend time at an indoor shooting range: It’s an excellent place to get familiar with new firearms, practice shooting and improve your skills, or simply have some fun with friends. It can also be a noisy environment if you’re using sub-standard hearing protection. You may find that ear defender muffles the sound of gunfire to a dull roar but there’s no doubt that unprotected exposure to even just a few range sessions will take its toll on the ears. Unfortunately, noise-induced hearing loss is almost universal for humans who regularly work in or around loud noises. As such it makes sense to invest in the best Indoor Range Ear Protection you can find before hitting the range again.
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What Is Indoor Range Ear Protection?
1. Ear Plugs
Ear plugs are one of the most basic types of ear protection and the most popular. They’re typically made from a soft material like foam or rubber and are inserted into the ear canal to block out loud noises. Ear plugs can be custom-made for your ears or purchased in generic sizes, but they’re not always comfortable to wear for extended periods. Another downside to ear plugs is that they’re not suitable for everyone, especially people with long hair, as they can get tangled up inside your ears or cause discomfort.
2. Ear Muffs
Ear muffs are another type of hearing protection that can be used at the range, but they aren’t suitable for everyone either. Some people find that ear muffs block out too much noise and make it difficult to hear normal conversation, while others find them uncomfortable if worn for long periods of time. They also tend to be bulky and may be unsuitable for use with eyeglasses.
3. Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you have a pair of high-quality noise-canceling headphones you can use them instead of conventional hearing protection at the range or gun club – even if you don’t listen to music while shooting! High-quality noise-canceling headphones work by actively blocking out certain frequencies (usually between 20Hz and 20kHz) so that only low-frequency sounds are audible through your headphones – which is how it should be when you’re shooting anyway. The downside is that not all noise-canceling headphones are suitable for use at the range, as some are designed to block out only low-frequency sounds. The ideal type of noise-canceling headphones for shooting should be able to block out a broad spectrum of frequencies, including high-pitched noises like gunshots and other loud noises.
4. Shooting Glasses
Shooting glasses are specially designed to protect your eyes from impact, dust, and debris when you’re shooting at the range or gun club. They feature a wraparound design with wraparound lenses that completely cover your eyes while leaving plenty of room for prescription glasses underneath. You can also buy prescription shooting glasses in some cases, although they’re usually more expensive than regular shooting glasses and may not have the same level of protection against impact or debris. Some shooting glasses are also designed to protect your ears from loud noises by incorporating built-in ear muffs, while others are designed to be worn over top of regular ear muffs.
Why Is Indoor Range Ear Protection important?
Protect Your Hearing
The first reason to invest in ear protection is that it protects your hearing. Every time you fire a gun, the shot produces a sonic boom that can damage your hearing if you don’t wear ear protection. While some indoor ranges provide hearing protection, it’s often cheap foam plugs that can be uncomfortable and ineffective.
Be Safe at the Range
Another reason to wear ear protection is safety. Some indoor ranges allow shooters to load and unload their own weapons while others assign an attendant to do this job. Either way, wearing ear protection will help protect your ears from misfires or accidental discharges that happen when people are loading or unloading firearms. Earplugs are also helpful in protecting you from accidental injuries caused by other people shooting near you at close range. In fact, most gunshot injuries occur when the shooter is standing close to someone else who is firing a gun nearby them (the shooter). A good set of earplugs will attenuate the sound so it doesn’t reach harmful levels and thereby protect your hearing from potentially damaging noise levels as well as dangerous sounds like gunshots or explosions.
Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) & Tinnitus
If you work in an environment with loud noises for long periods of time, then you should be wearing earplugs or some type of hearing protection regularly (at least several times per week). You should always wear hearing protection if you are exposed to sounds over 85 decibels. This is because even a single exposure (one-shot, explosion, etc.) can cause hearing loss.
Protect Your Ears from the Elements
Earplugs can also be helpful if you’re shooting in cold weather or the wind is blowing hard and it’s causing your ears to get cold or wet. Sometimes, a little bit of wind can make the range experience less than enjoyable so earplugs are a good way to protect your ears from this minor nuisance. You should also be sure that you have safety glasses on as well because debris like rocks and dust may fly up into your face as you shoot and these particles can cause some serious damage if they hit you in the eye at close range.
The Best Indoor Range Ear Protection: Our Picks
Protaras Pro Tac Slim Electronic Hearing Protection
These are the best Indoor Range Ear Protection you can find. They look like normal headphones, but they’re actually hearing protectors that are designed to be worn around the ear, sealing out harmful noise while still allowing you to hear conversations and range commands. They’re comfortable and lightweight enough to wear for hours on end. The batteries last up to 16 hours and recharge in just 1.5 hours. The sound quality is great, with a high-end digital processor that reduces distortion and delivers clear sound at all volume levels. These ear protectors have an excellent noise reduction rating of 30 dB, which means you can listen safely without worrying about damaging your ears over time. This is the best Indoor Range Ear Protection if you want something that will provide comfortable hearing protection for extended periods of time while still being able to hear range commands easily with no muffling or blaring sounds from the earmuffs themselves.
3m Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Earmuff
This is one of the best Indoor Range Ear Protection options if you want a pair of quality ear muffs with a lower price tag than some other models on this list but still want good performance from your hearing protectors. The 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Earmuff combines comfort and durability in an affordable package that also offers good noise reduction for its price point — 26 dB — as well as a good assortment of features. The design of these ear muffs is comfortable and lightweight, with padded cups that can be worn over the ear or behind the head. This makes them one of the best Indoor Range Ear Protection options for those who are active on the range and like to move around while they shoot. The headband is also adjustable, so you can get a secure fit regardless of your head size or shape. These ear muffs have an auto-shutoff feature that turns off the electronics after four hours, preventing damage to your hearing from extended use. However, if you forget to turn them off before putting them away, they’ll turn off automatically after another hour anyway — so it’s not like you’re going to accidentally leave them on overnight and damage your ears by accident!
Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Shooting Earmuff with Sound Amplification
If you want something more affordable than some of the other options on this list but still want a high-quality option for indoor shooting range use then consider these Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Shooting Earmuff with Sound Amplification ear protectors. They provide good noise reduction — 22 dB — as well as amplification features that allow you to hear commands around you clearly even when wearing these hearing protectors. They have an adjustable headband and soft leatherette cups that can be worn over or behind the ears depending on your preference and activity level while at the range.
3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Earmuff with Sound Amplification
If you want some of the best Indoor Range Ear Protection available then you can’t go wrong with these 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Earmuff with Sound Amplification hearing protectors. They are a little pricier than some other options on this list, but they also offer much better noise reduction — 29 dB — and amplification features as well. They have a similar design to the other 3M Peltor models on this list, but with more features and better noise reduction. These ear muffs have an adjustable headband that can be easily adjusted for maximum comfort, and they also have padded cups that can be worn over the ears or behind the head depending on your preferences and activity level at the shooting range. The electronics of these ear muffs are automatically shut off after four hours to prevent damage to your hearing from extended use, and they also feature an auto-shutoff feature after one hour if you forget to turn them off before putting them away — so you don’t have to worry about accidentally damaging your hearing!
Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR) And Decibels (dB)
- The NRR is a common way to measure the effectiveness of hearing protection. Almost all ear protection will have an NRR rating, but it’s not a reliable measure of how well it will protect you from noise. The NRR measures the amount of sound reduction provided by an earplug or earmuff when worn correctly. To achieve the stated NRR, you must wear the device with its foam seal in contact with your skin and over your ear canal (with some exceptions, such as in-ear plugs).
- Decibels are logarithmic units used to express the intensity of sound. Doubling the decibels increases the intensity tenfold, so 80dB is 10 times more intense than 70dB (but not twice as loud). Most people start to notice damage from noise at around 85dB and begin experiencing hearing loss at 95dB. If you’re exposed to noise for long enough—even if it’s below 100dB—you can experience permanent hearing loss.
- The amount of time you’re exposed to a certain level of noise can also affect your hearing. According to OSHA, the exposure time should be limited so that it doesn’t exceed 140 dB for more than four hours per day or 85 dB for any length of time over eight hours per day (OSHA 2013). In general, most people can sustain exposure to sounds between 50-70 dB without discomfort and up to 80 dB before their ears start ringing after they leave the noisy environment.
- Sound intensity doubles every 10 decibels, so 50 dB is ten times as intense as 40dB and 100dB is 100 times as intense as 80dB. It’s also important to note that the frequency of a sound is just as important as its intensity. High-pitched noises, for instance, are more damaging to your ears than low-pitched noises because the eardrums vibrate more quickly at higher frequencies and produce more energy in the process.
Shooting ranges are a fun environment but it’s important to protect your ears when you’re in the indoor shooting range. If you’re planning on visiting an indoor range, you should consider investing in a pair of the best Indoor Range Ear Protection. At Shooting Range Reviews, we recently reviewed several different types of ear protection and found that the Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Ear Muffs are some of the best ear muffs available today. Not only do they offer excellent noise reduction, but they also come with a radio and a phone jack so that you can plug in your phone or music device and control the volume without taking off your earmuffs. The Howard Leight Impact Pro Electronic Earmuff was our runner-up pick for best electronic hearing protection because they offer superior noise reduction at an affordable price point.