What to Know When Buying Electronic Ear Muffs for Shooting
Shooting is undoubtedly one of the many great American pastimes that has been common among gun enthusiasts for centuries.
Unfortunately, though, this popular hobby is also the number one reason for critical damage to their hearing. Because the average gunshot produces upwards of 157 decibels of noise, it has the power to actually damage the eardrum, reduce the subject’s ability to hear over time, and produce other lasting effects that are certainly undesirable. This makes the need for strong ear protection all the more obvious. Today’s gun enthusiasts generally have two distinct types of protection to choose from.
For decades, many people seeking protection from high-decibel noise environments have sought earmuffs to ensure their long-term hearing and protect them from injury. For most of that time, regular earmuffs were the only real way to safeguard against the dangers of hearing loss and ear injury. In recent years, though, electronic ear muffs have become a mainstream way to protect hearing in a “smart” way.These electronic successors to the traditional ear muff actually allow for low decibel noises to be heard while louder noises, like those produced by a gunshot, are muffled beyond a point where they would do any substantial damage or injury to the ear.
Before choosing an electronic pair of ear muffs, though, avid gun owners and others who rely on noise cancellation should be sure to understand the key differences between electronic ear muffs and non-electronic models. It’s also a good idea to understand the benefits and disadvantages of each, as well as the method by which a pair of earmuffs should be purchased.With the right tools and information available, virtually every hobbyists can make a sensible purchasing decision that reduces injury and promotes lifelong good hearing.
Choosing a Comfortable Type of Protection: Electronic Ear Muff Designs
As with virtually any accessory or injury protection, avid gun enthusiasts have a few different styles to choose from when shopping for electronic ear muffs. In fact, these choices also apply when shopping for most brands and models of traditional, non-electronic ear protection. So it’s worth becoming familiar with each design before deciding for a purchase.
Cap-Mounted Ear Protection
Perhaps the least used earmuff design for shooting is the cap-mounted variety, which is named for its ability to sit atop a hard hat or other headgear. The cap-mounted electronic ear muffs is one of the only styles that will actually work with protective headgear, and it should be used whenever there is a serious threat of overhead objects, or other debris, posing the risk of injury.
Aside from the cap-mounted style, the type of earmuff most likely to be seen and worn by those who frequently go shooting is the over-the-head style. They look just like a pair of headphones, and they use the head as a brace in order to prevent movement or discomfort. When protective headgear is less important, such as in enclosed shooting ranges, these earmuffs are a great choice and one that is easily among the most comfortable.
Earmuffs that mount on the ears, and use the neck for support, don’t require being placed over the head for adequate protection and immobilization. These earmuffs are designed to work with head gear, and they’re perfect for those who simply don’t like having a heavy pair of ear muffs resting atop their head for the duration of their shooting activities.
The Benefits: How Electronic Ear Muffs are Changing the Game in Shooting
Any avid shooter who has been to a shooting range, ear muffs in hand, knows the perils of the traditional, non-electronic ear protection they bring with them. Conversations are muffled, ambient noises are virtually impossible to hear, and ear protection can act as a built-in way to turn down any kind of social interaction while shooting. Most people have accepted this as a necessary side effect when protecting the integrity of the ear and preventing injury, but that compromise no longer has to be made.
The primary benefit of today’s electronic ear muffs is that they allow for the amplification of ambient noises and low-decibel sounds. This allows the ear muffs to intelligently block out the high-impact noises produced by the typical gun shot, especially in enclosed spaces, while allowing free-flowing conversation to continue during a shooting outing.
The electronic sensors that are built into each ear muff can actually tell the difference between noise types, allowing everything from personal conversations to the ambient noises of the shooting range to “pass through.”
Furthermore, many higher-end electronic ear muffs actually contain headphone jacks and volume controls, and automatic shut-offs. This allows the earmuffs to potentially work with portable music players and smartphones, allowing for a bit of low-key music while shooting. It might not be social interaction, but many hobbyists often enjoy a shooting outing set to the perfect soundtrack. Electronic ear muffs enable this almost instinctively.
The Price of Cutting-Edge: Keep in Mind the Expense of Electronic Protection
There really are few downsides to choosing an electronic pair of earmuffs. Perhaps the biggest factor affecting the eventual purchase of this cutting-edge technology is its overall cost, which is often quite a bit higher than the price charged for a pair of traditional earmuff protection.
That’s simply a recognition of a few things, though: Electronic ear muffs contain sophisticated components, cutting-edge internal sensors, and advanced controls that deal with volume, plug-and-play electronics, and more.
When Shopping: Go for the Best Protection
Though price is certainly a concern when shopping for electronic ear protection, those in the market for a pair of next-generation earmuffs should also keep in mind that they need to secure the right decibel protection level for their needs.
In the United States, protection of this caliber is rated on a scale of between 0 and 33 decibels, with a 33-rated pair of earmuffs providing the most protection. (NRR)
With a great deal of comparison shopping, and special attention to details like the decibel rating applied to each pair, those in the market for a better set of ear muffs will be able to get exactly what their shooting hobby deserves.
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