What Ear Protection is Best for Shooting Range?

As a shooting enthusiast or professional, it’s important to prioritize your safety when at the shooting range. One essential aspect of safety to consider is ear protection. With the loud and sudden noises of firing guns, it’s essential to protect your ears from potential damage. However, choosing the best ear protection for shooting can be a daunting task, given the various options available in the market. In this context, we will explore some of the best ear protection options for shooting range enthusiasts, which will help you make an informed decision for your next shooting session.

Understanding the Importance of Ear Protection

Shooting at a range is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can also be hazardous to your health. The sound levels produced by firearms can cause serious damage to your hearing if you are not adequately protected. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels (dB) for eight hours or more can cause hearing loss. Most firearms produce noise levels far exceeding this limit, ranging from 140 to 170 dB. Without proper ear protection, you risk hearing damage, which can lead to tinnitus, a condition characterized by a constant ringing in the ears.

Types of Ear Protection

There are two main types of ear protection: earplugs and earmuffs. Earplugs are small, foam or silicone inserts that fit into the ear canal. They come in different shapes and sizes and are disposable or reusable. Earmuffs, on the other hand, are large, over-the-ear devices that cover the entire ear. They come in different styles, including electronic and non-electronic, and can be adjustable or fixed.


Earplugs are a popular choice for shooters because they are lightweight, comfortable, and affordable. They can be customized to fit your ear canal, which can provide a better seal and more effective noise reduction. Disposable earplugs are easy to use and dispose of after use, while reusable earplugs are more environmentally friendly and can be used multiple times.


Earmuffs offer more protection than earplugs, as they cover the entire ear and provide a better seal. They are also more durable and can last longer than earplugs. Electronic earmuffs are popular among shooters because they amplify low-level sounds, such as conversation, while reducing the high-level sounds of gunfire. This allows shooters to hear range commands and communicate with others while still protecting their hearing.

Choosing the Right Ear Protection

When choosing ear protection for shooting, there are several factors to consider. First, you need to ensure that the ear protection you choose has a high noise reduction rating (NRR). The NRR is a measure of how effective the ear protection is at reducing noise levels. The higher the NRR, the better the ear protection. OSHA recommends an NRR of at least 22 dB for shooting activities.

Second, you need to consider the fit and comfort of the ear protection. Earplugs should fit snugly in the ear canal, while earmuffs should form a tight seal around the entire ear. The ear protection should be comfortable to wear for an extended period, without causing discomfort or irritation.

Third, you need to consider the style and features of the ear protection. Electronic earmuffs are popular among shooters because they can amplify low-level sounds while reducing high-level sounds. Some earmuffs also come with Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to listen to music or take calls while shooting.

Lastly, you need to consider the cost of the ear protection. Earplugs are generally more affordable than earmuffs, but they are also less durable and may need to be replaced more frequently. Earmuffs can be more expensive, but they can also last longer and provide more protection.

It is crucial to understand the importance of ear protection when shooting at a range, as firearms produce noise levels far exceeding safe decibel limits. Earplugs and earmuffs are the main types of ear protection available, each with its advantages and disadvantages. When choosing ear protection, it is essential to consider factors such as The noise reduction rating, fit and comfort, style and features, and cost. Proper maintenance of ear protection is essential to ensure its effectiveness in protecting your hearing.

Maintaining Ear Protection

Once you have chosen your ear protection, it is important to maintain it properly to ensure its effectiveness. Earplugs should be disposed of after each use or cleaned and stored properly if they are reusable. Earmuffs should be wiped down regularly with a clean cloth and stored in a dry, cool place. If the ear protection becomes damaged or loses its effectiveness, it should be replaced immediately.

FAQs – What Ear Protection is Best for Shooting Range?

What ear protection should I use when shooting at a range?

There are several types of ear protection available for use at a shooting range. The most commonly used options are earmuffs and earplugs. Earmuffs cover the entire ear and offer a higher level of noise reduction than earplugs. Earplugs, on the other hand, are inserted into the ear canal and are more compact and portable than earmuffs. The best type of ear protection for you will depend on several factors including the intensity of the noise, the duration of exposure, and personal preference.

Can I use regular earplugs for shooting?

While regular earplugs can offer some level of noise reduction, they may not be sufficient for shooting range noise. Shooting produces high-intensity noise levels that can cause hearing damage. Therefore, it is recommended to use specially designed shooting earplugs that offer maximum noise protection.

What is the noise reduction rating (NRR) and how does it help me choose the right ear protection?

The noise reduction rating (NRR) is a measure of the effectiveness of earplugs and earmuffs in reducing noise levels. The higher the NRR, the greater the noise reduction. It is important to choose ear protection with a high NRR to prevent hearing damage. The NRR can be found on the product packaging, so it is easy to compare different options and choose the best one for your needs.

How do I know if my ear protection is working effectively?

If you are using earplugs, you can test the effectiveness of the noise reduction by performing an insert and fit check before using them. With earmuffs, you can perform a simple test by covering them with your hands and listening to ambient noise levels. If you can still hear sounds clearly, your earmuffs may not be working effectively. It is important to ensure that your ear protection is correctly fitted and working effectively to prevent hearing damage.

Can I use electronic ear protection for shooting?

Yes, electronic ear protection is an excellent option for shooting as it allows you to hear ambient sounds while protecting your hearing from the high-intensity noise of gunfire. This type of ear protection uses electronic technology to amplify low-level sounds while suppressing loud sounds, such as gunfire. It is also available in both earmuffs and earplug options. However, electronic ear protection is often more expensive than regular ear protection.