With the explosive growth of gun owners in the United States over the last decade, it only makes sense that shooting sports and competitions catering to a new generation of shooters would also be on the rise. Whether USPSA, IDPA, ISPC, GSSF, or even 3-gun there are now different leagues and organizations that cater to every type and level of shooter regardless of equipment or experience.

However, with this growth in popularity comes the responsibility of new shooters to protect themselves and others by using proper equipment such as hearing protection as well as best practices for firearm safety. Understanding the importance of safety as a concept and proper usage of good protective equipment is a critical aspect of being a defensive, recreational or even competitive shooter and ensures a safer and more knowledgeable community in the future.

Understanding the Risks of Inadequate Hearing Protection

Hearing damage is an all too common condition amongst long-time shooters which is somewhat tragic considering it doesn’t have to be. Shooting guns, especially at indoor ranges will damage hearing, severely, over time. Understanding the damage caused by the report of gunfire adds to the urgency of choosing and utilizing quality protection that ensures limited if any negative effects on hearing.

Axil provides a full line of hearing equipment to suit different gun owners and shooter types, leaving no reason to not competently protect hearing. Despite the increased risk of indoor shooting, even small-caliber outdoor shooting exceeds the decibel level of hazardous noise and can be just as damaging. Avoid this by researching and shopping for the different protection Axil offers including buds and muffs for different environments.

Immediate and Permanent Hearing Damage from Gunfire

Any loud noise above 85 dB (decibels) can be damaging to hearing, compare this to the fact that even a .22LR generates about 120 dB to 140 dB and understand how much damage can be caused. When looking at a common competitive handgun cartridge, say the 9mm for instance, at up to 168 dB, it’s easy to see how quickly and severely permanent hearing damage can occur.

Even 12 gauge shotguns, which tend to be quieter than many common rifle calibers can easily exceed 150 dB making wearing proper protection critical when hunting or clay pigeon shooting. Axil provides quality foam plugs that expand in the inner ear providing maximum protection to the ear drums and can be used in combination with larger muffs such as the Trackr series.

Tinnitus and Long-term Auditory Complications

Tinnitus which is known for chronic ringing in the ears brought on by loud sounds is a common affliction caused by long-term hearing damage and eventually leads to high-frequency hearing loss, in particular the inability to hear sounds at certain levels. Research has shown that loud sounds associated with hazardous noise levels have been linked to these symptoms. The good news is that there are now several options that can protect shooters and hunters from tinnitus and progressive hearing loss, which has long plagued the world of recreational and sport shooters.

Proactive Measures for Hearing Conservation

There are three common types of hearing protection and they vary greatly in cost and features. The most basic and common hearing protection which can be used as a primary for the outdoors and a secondary for the indoors, are simple foam earplugs.

Earmuffs are the most common and popular, with electronic offerings a growing market, particularly for students of defensive firearms training.

Finally, earbuds, which are the most advanced technologically, offer new levels of features and options with adjustable levels of protection based on the needs of the shooter.

Variety of Hearing Protection Options

Foam earplugs provide an inexpensive and easy-to-use option for beginnerss. The foam material conforms to the shape of the ear canal and provides excellent protection for small-caliber shooting or indoor ranges. Drawbacks would be that earplugs are for one-time use and due to hygiene purposes not usually taken out and put back in. Also, many users find earplugs to be uncomfortable especially when used for longer periods. An additional benefit, however, is many shooters will combine plugs with muffs to give an added layer of protection. This works well when considering how easily earmuffs can be shifted off the ear due to different shoulder or head movements.

There has been significant growth in the usage of electronic hearing protection which includes earmuffs and earbuds. The advantages are much higher levels of customization and connectivity than non-electronic options. The most unique advantage comes from the ability to enhance noise, including softer sounds, providing an entirely new level of hearing protection with increased spatial awareness and sensory perception. Axil XCOR protects and improves hearing, with Bluetooth capability and customizable tips for different noise environments. The biggest drawbacks of electronic hearing protection are the cost and usually durability in rugged spaces.

Importance of Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

NRR which is short for noise reduction rating is an excellent and reliable standard used to measure noise exposure white at the shooting range. It is usually clearly marked on the packaging and uses a simple formula that shooters can easily understand. It is critical to have an understanding of the dB (decibel or noise level) of a firearm on the range, whether indoor or outdoor as well as the level of protection provided by the chosen hearing protection. This can ensure that the effects on hearing by hazardous noise levels can be minimized to acceptable levels or even completely eliminated.

Axil’s Advanced Hearing Solutions for Shooters and Hunters

Axil offers high-quality hearing protection devices that cover shooting sports as well as outdoorsmen and hunters' needs. Ear protection for shooting in particular is a strong point for Axil products and enables hunters and marksmen to enjoy their traditions and hobbies without the fear of permanently damaging their hearing. The Trackr line of earmuffs is durable and intuitivee giving many users an edge over other products, especially when considering the unique features of the technology.

Whether communicating on a live-fire range, taking a defensive firearms class, or hunting grouse, Axil products can enhance a shooter's hearing, enable them to remain connected via calls or texts and provide the best protection available on the market. Shooters of all different pedigrees and experience levels can find a product that suits them and gives them an edge on not only protection but performance as well.


Enhancing Experience with Electronic Hearing Protection

Electronic hearing protection from Axil, specifically the GS Extreme 2.0 or the XCOR provides excellent protection to shooters in the field or on the range. However, due to Bluetooth and touch technology, these earbuds also allow a shooter to stay connected with phone calls or texts by connecting to their wireless communication device (phone, tablet, etc…). Being able to still be available during target practice in the case of an emergency is a new feature in the world of hearing protection and something that hasn’t been taken lightly. Many professionals enjoy firearms training and competition, yet still have families or important businesses that require them to be available, Axil provides a cost-effective solution for this.

In addition, environmental awareness is a critical necessity when on a live-fire range, especially with regard to firearms training classes or competitions where it can be very difficult to hear orders and communication from an instructor or range officer. Electronic hearing protection from Axil alleviates all of this by increasing hearing of conversation level sounds while changing and protecting hearing from dangerous sounds and noise levels.

Long-term Benefits of Using Proper Hearing Protection

Making sure proper equipment is used can ensure little to no hearing damage despite years of firearm usage. This, of course, covers other areas as well, for instance, construction or other loud-noise industries. However, shooting in particular as a hobby tends to have a large number of people that do not use proper protection. This leads to several different negative conditions over time and is simple to alleviate. Whether sheer ego, or convenience, not using hearing protection is somewhat common amongst recreational shooters, although all professional ranges and sanctioned shooting matches require proper hearing protection. Firearms safety and hearing protection are paramount and both can eliminate both short and long-term injury and negative health conditions.

Preserving Hearing Health and Shooting Performance

While preserving hearing health has and should always be a top priority an added advantage of using Axil electronic hearing protection is that they can improve shooting performance. Having excellent sensory awareness, including hearing enhancement, can easily help improve focus on the range. Awareness, including spatial, is one of the most important aspects of good defensive and competitive shooting. For instance, 3-Gun is a well-known style of competitive shooting that like other types of competition shooting, utilizes steel targets. A competitor only moves on to the next targets when they hear the sound of their projectiles hitting the steel targets. Being able to hear these sounds quickly and clearly contributes to the focus of many marksmen.

Conclusion: Commit to Hearing Safety

Ear protection has become standard issue equipment for people engaging in shooting activities, whether professional, competitive, or recreational. The use of high-quality hearing protection has become prevalent in the industry and hobby and the benefits of this are long-term preservation of hearing, added awareness as well as enhanced senses, performance, and focus. To use ear protection is more or less a requirement, and although the type varies greatly amongst individuals, technological advances and improvements continue to enhance the experience for shooters around the world. Axil is leading this movement with state-of-the-art offerings that accommodate all different types and levels of marksmen and help the hobby to grow and the traditions to continue on to new generations

Additional Resources and Expert Advice

To take a look at proper hearing protection, check out and research the different offerings available. For general ear and other sense-related health questions, see The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders which provides access to scientific governmental and audiologist studies.

Hearing Protection While Shooting FAQs

What are the immediate risks of shooting without hearing protection?

Immediate risks include severe and permanent hearing damage due to exposure to loud noises, such as gunfire, which can exceed 85 dB. For example, a 9mm handgun can emit up to 168 dB, potentially leading to immediate hearing loss.

How does inadequate hearing protection contribute to long-term auditory complications?

Long-term exposure to high decibel levels without adequate hearing protection can lead to chronic conditions like tinnitus, characterized by a persistent ringing in the ears, and eventually high-frequency hearing loss.

What types of hearing protection are available for shooters?

There are three main types of hearing protection: foam earplugs, earmuffs, and electronic earbuds. Each offers different levels of protection and features, such as noise enhancement for environmental awareness and connectivity options like Bluetooth.

What is the importance of the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) in hearing protection?

The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is crucial as it indicates the level of noise reduction provided by hearing protection devices. Understanding the NRR helps shooters choose the right protection to minimize the harmful effects of gunfire noise, which is essential for both indoor and outdoor shooting environments.

What are the benefits of using high-quality hearing protection like Axil's products during shooting?

High-quality hearing protection, such as Axil's offerings, helps preserve hearing health, enhances sensory and spatial awareness, and improves shooting performance. These benefits are vital for both recreational and competitive shooters to maintain focus and accuracy while protecting against long-term hearing damage.

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