Women’s Hearing Protection for Shooting
Shooting firearms is enjoyable, but it can also cause permanent hearing damage. Hearing loss is a top service-connected disability of military personnel, and anyone in the presence of gunfire is at risk for permanent hearing damage.
If you’re a woman shooter, it’s essential to find adequate hearing protection. There are lots of options to choose from, such as women’s earmuffs, earplugs, and electronic shooting muffs. But what’s the difference, and how do you know which one is right for you?
Before you head out to the shooting range or bag a trophy in your next shooting competition, let’s learn why firearm users are susceptible to hearing loss, how to prevent it, and what to consider when choosing hearing protection.
Why You Need to Protect Your Ears
Our ears are powerful but fragile. While some people are more sensitive to sounds than others, any sound that is loud enough and lasts long enough will cause irreversible hearing loss or hearing problems.
When you know you’ll be exposed to loud noises, protecting your ear canals will prevent hearing damage in the immediate or distant future.
Hearing Loss: How Noise Damages Our Hearing
We hear audibly between zero and 180 decibels. A whisper is about 30 decibels, a normal conversation is about 60 decibels, and being inside a car going 60 mph is about 70 decibels.
According to the CDC, eardrums exposed to noise above 70 decibels for a prolonged period can cause hearing damage, and noise above 120 decibels can cause immediate harm to your hearing.
Firearms can create noise levels of 140 decibels or higher. Without adequate protection, many firearm users experience hearing loss and possible pain or injury to their inner ears.
Shooters can experience hearing loss with just one shot. A single burst of sound can permanently damage the 15,000 microscopic hair cells in your cochlea, which is a spiral, hollow bone in your inner ear. These little cells transduce sound waves, which your brain interprets as individual frequencies.
These cells do not grow back, which means any damage to the ear canal from loud noises is permanent. Shooters who don’t have adequate hearing protection suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), likely in one ear more than the other depending on their dominant shooting hand.
For instance, if you’re right-handed, your opposite ear will experience more hearing damage because it’s closer to the muzzle of the firearm. Hearing loss in firearm users is sometimes dubbed “shooter’s ear” and includes tinnitus (ringing in the ears), which also can’t be reversed. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your ears from hearing damage.
4 Types of Ear Protection
When it comes to hearing protection, women shooters have some effective options to choose from. It all depends on your personal preference, but there are a few factors to keep in mind:
- Proper fit: If you’re choosing women’s earmuffs, ensure they’re secure on your head. It also helps to have plenty of padding for comfort. For earplugs, they should properly fill out your ear canal.
- Noise reduction level: Check the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) and choose a high number for optimal protection.
There are also “passive” and “electronic” hearing protection devices. Any hearing protection that’s called “passive” doesn’t have an electrical component that helps you hear lower-decibel noises while shielding your hearing. Let’s explore the top three types of protection.
1. Passive Earplugs
There are lots of different sizes, shapes and styles of passive earplugs to choose from. You can buy foam earplugs over-the-counter, or order earplugs made from silicone or rubber to custom fit your ear canal. For earplugs to work, they must be expanded into the ear canal to create an effective barrier that reduces noise exposure.
If you prefer something small to carry around that doesn’t envelop your entire ear, passive earplugs are a good hearing protection choice for the next time you go shooting. You can also combine them with women’s protection earmuffs for enhanced protection.
2. Passive Hearing Protection Muffs
Just like earplugs, there are many varieties of shooting muffs. Many shooters prefer cap-mounted or behind-the-neck muffs because they are easy to wear with hats and other headgear.
Plastic headbands are harder to bend out of shape, which is a good thing. If you stretch the headband, the earmuffs can lose their secure hold and offer less protection. Metal headbands might be sturdier but are more easily bent out of shape. If you feel like you’ll be fiddling with your earmuffs, aim for a headband with high elasticity like plastic. You can also buy folding earmuffs for easy storage.
When buying passive earmuffs, make sure they’re adjustable and padded enough to be comfortable. They also need to be secure on your ears and head or neck, as you don’t want them to slide or fall off during shooting and expose your ears to harmful noises.
Just like earplugs, check their NRR and choose a high number, preferably 22 or higher. An added benefit of passive protection earmuffs is they’re less expensive than electronic earmuffs.
3. Electronic Hearing Protection Muffs
The distinction between electronic hearing earmuffs and passive earmuffs is their ability to provide hearing protection while allowing you to hear low-level sounds. Through electronic circuitry, they use microphones and speakers so you can hear conversations at a normal level, or amplify soft sounds when hunting.
As technology advances, many brands of electronic earmuffs have a variety of features. You can choose earmuffs with volume controls, Bluetooth, auto shut-off capabilities, HD speakers, audio jacks and more.
Besides covering your ears, you can reduce the amount of noise from your firearm by attaching a suppressor.
Here’s how it works: when you fire a bullet, gunpowder is ignited and creates a gas that rapidly expands. This high-pressure gas pushes the bullet out while making a very loud noise as it exits the muzzle, much like popping a balloon. When you attach a suppressor, the gas exits by swirling rather than bursting out rapidly. Due to the slowed-down exit speed, the shot creates a quieter, suppressed noise.
A quality suppressor can decrease the blast of a gunshot by 20-35 decibels. Suppressors alone are not sufficient protection and should be used in combination with ear muffs or plugs.A BETTER APPROACH TO HEARING PROTECTION FOR HUNTING
3 Fashionable Ways to Save Your Hearing While Shooting
Not sure where to start for hearing protection? We’ve put together our top three hearing protection devices for women to prepare you for your next hunting trip or day at the shooting range.
1. Pink Camo Earmuffs
These pink camo earmuffs by Mossy Oak don’t just look good, they feel good too. With soft foam ear cups and an adjustable band, they can provide plenty of comfort while still fitting snugly and securely. They’re foldable for easy storage and boast an NRR rating of 22.
2. Noise Canceling Earplugs
If you’re interested in earplugs, try these silicone ones by HAVIGEAR. They reduce noise by 33 decibels and don’t penetrate deeply into your ear canal. Not only do you have multiple colors to choose from, but a pack also comes with two different sizes so you can find the best fit for your ear canal. Bonus: they’re washable!
3. Sound Amplification Shooting Muffs
These electronic shooting muffs by Honeywell have a 22 NRR rating and ultraslim earcups. Besides a headband that is padded, adjustable and foldable, it also has an auxiliary audio jack and auto shut-off feature.
Protect Your Hearing in Style!
While wearing earplugs or earmuffs is critical to protecting your ears, so is shooting suppressed. Attaching a suppressor to your firearm is known to reduce damaging noise. At Silencer Central, we offer a wide range of suppressors to fit your needs and your firearm. For optimum protection while on the range, shop our silencers today.SHOP SUPPRESSORS