I need advice concerning hearing protection. I shoot clay targets regularly and also hunt. I have used the foam ear plugs and now use ear muffs. I am not happy with the ear muffs as they are hot and sometimes get in the way. I would like to try the in-ear type electronic protection. I see them advertised at the big stores. There seems to be many brands and the price seems quite high. Before I would spent that kind of money,I would like to be assured they are going to work and also last several years.
I’ve tried just about everything and keep going back to foam plugs. Of course, ear muffs are the best for noise protection, but in warm weather they are a pain. In cold weather they are very nice indeed.
I’ve had one really good and expensive set of fitted digital electronic ear plugs. The electronic part is great in that it permits you to hear normally, or even extra normally. But these earplugs have two problems:
1) they are very expensive, just like the hearing aids they partially emulate, and
2) if they aren’t properly fitted, or if they no longer fit after a period of time and/or ear change, they don’t block sound as well as the cheap foam plugs.
My electronic plugs did not fit well and were basically useless as a noise barrier- a very expensive useless noise barrier. The digital enhancement part was great though. Still, with standard foam plugs, I can hear and converse well enough for my purposes.
Remember, with the electronic plugs, the first and most important job of the plugs is to stop noise. All the digital enhancement stuff is just gingerbread if they don’t do their primary job. The electronic plugs are hard molded and, once set, can’t further adapt to the ear. If the ear changes over time, the plugs can’t change with it. Foam plugs adapt perfectly each and every time.
Obviously, there are lots of people out there who are blissfully happy with their electronic ear plugs. I just wasn’t one of them. I’m also not entirely sure that I want to be able to hear a pin drop when I’m shooting. Imagine setting up for a presentation and hearing someone behind you whisper to his pal, “Geez, look at that guy. What a klutz. He doesn’t have a clue.”
One thing that you might try as an experiment is to get a set of relatively inexpensive inert molded plugs made for you. There are usually a few vendors at any of the big shoots. These plugs have no electronics, but they will give you a good feel for what the electronic plugs will do to eliminate noise and what they will feel like. Compare the molded plugs to your foam plugs and draw your own conclusion.
As an aside, for grouse hunting, when it is vital to hear the flush of the bird, I use cheap Sonic rubber plugs with the little metal valve inside. I can hear quite well with these and they do offer some slight noise barrier, though nothing near that of pure foam plugs. I’m quick to admit that properly fitting and functioning digital ear plugs would be a delight in most hunting situations.
Remember too, the above is just one person’s opinion. Everyone’s hearing is different. The only thing that’s absolutely sure is that if you don’t wear decent hearing protection, you won’t be able to hear your wife when she asks you to do some chore. We wouldn’t want that, now would we?
Shotgun Report’s Technoid