How Much Hearing Protection Is Needed When Shooting

Extremely loud noises that surpass a high amount of decibels (dB) can result in damage to the inner ear which leads to hearing loss. Hearing protection is required when firing guns. There are different types of material to protct your ears. Even using the “fingers in the ear” method can save your hearing in the long run.

The Facts

It is suggested by that anyone who uses guns on a regular basis use ear plugs plus a muff worn over them. This combination can add up to at least 36 NRR, which is nearly the maximum protection you can get without stepping into a portable hearing protection device. The NRR rating of ear plugs is usually 6 while an Ultimate 10 muff is usually 30 NRR, adding up to 36 NRR.


Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is only required by law to appear on any label of every hearing protector sold in the United States because of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) labeling regulation. The law was passed so the user will deduct the NRR from the dB level at hand to get the dB level at the ear. For example, if your noise level at hand is 100 dB minus the Hearing Protector NRR of 25 dB, then your noise level at the ear would be 75 dB.


Besides wearing your typical ear muffs for protection, there are multiple types of ear plugs to choose from. Poly urethane foam ear plugs are disposable and are known as the softest foam plugs on the market. They come in different sizes and are used by rolling them in a small cylinder and placing them in the canal of your ear. Within seconds they will expand. Another form of ear plugs are PVC foam plugs, which have a stiffer material than poly urethane plugs. They are easier to place inside the ear.

Fun Facts

It is essential to wear some sort of hearing protection while shooting guns. A talking voice will usually measure up to 60dB while a chainsaw can reach up to 100dB. Any sound level above 85dB is considered harmful to the ear. The blast of a gun will generally reach 150dB.


Using rifles and handguns without wearing proper hearing protection will result in permanent hearing damage. Even smaller weapons like .22’s can create a dangerous dB level for your ears. Your hearing can never be repaired, and it will only get worse after being damaged.