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Ear Protection for Clay Shooting:Solutions For A Risky Hobby

Shooting a pistol or shotgun at clays is fun, but it can also be dangerous.

Ear protection is essential for shooting pistols and shotguns. And most importantly, it's important for safety.

If you're passionate about clay shooting, you'll want to be able to take full advantage of the sport while minimizing your chances of injury.

Make sure to protect your ears while shooting!

Table Of Contents

Benefits of Using Shooting Earplugs

There's a world of various ear-protectors for shooters out there, from the size of a spaniel's head to small custom plugs that filter noises, let in the good and lock out the bad.

Ear protectors are both essential and standard on any clay field.

more vigilant about using ear protectors

Game shooters appear to be becoming more vigilant about using ear protectors. Seasonally, the amount of shooters hanging on their pegs with nothing to cover their ears seems to be dwindling. But they're missing more—the screams of the hitters, the drumming of wings, any atmosphere, if not the opportunity to locate the target better.

Shooting ear protection is essential to guard against the incredibly hazardous noises created by firearms. Each gunshot can inflict permanent hearing loss. If you're a beginner shooter or a hardened veteran, we have a wide range of earplugs and earmuffs to meet your needs and secure your ears.

Remember the following while attempting to protect your ears from injury or loss when firing clay.

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Noise Reduction Rating

Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a hearing safety rating used in the U.S. The current spectrum of NRRs available in the U.S. market varies from 0 to 33 dB. They calculate the NRR from an involving measurement that starts with attenuation test results from at least ten laboratory subjects over a frequency continuum.

We consider two standard deviations for human usage differences, which contain many corrections and cushions to make the NRR acceptable to a broader community and a wide range of noise sources. 

Even though it is not a perfect indicator of attenuation in the modern world, the NRR is the most standardized tool currently used to describe the hearing protector's attenuation in a single amount.

The NRR calculates the amount of protection 98 percent of users can attain in a laboratory environment while hearing protectors are correctly installed. The higher the NRR, the lower the noise level.

Electronic Headsets vs. Passive Earmuffs

Both modern headphones and classical earmuffs have advantages and drawbacks. Earmuffs comfort with no overt pressure within the ear canal. The three typical designs of earmuffs are the traditional over-the-head and over-the-neck models.

The cap-mounted versions are designed to be mounted directly to most hard hats with side-accessory slots. 

The back-to-neck style can also be used when wearing headwear or hard hats and is frequently favored by shooters. The benefits of classic earmuffs are that they are cheaper than electronic headsets and offer a marginally higher NRR.

Electronic earmuffs have the same security as traditional models, but they also provide other specialized features. These headphones help you shield your ears from loud sounds while also being ready to listen to low sound levels, including interactions.

Noises When You Are Shooting

The following infographic shows a list of the various noises when you are out and about. Any noise over 70-80db over a long period of time may cause damage to your hearing. A noise of over 120dB may cause immediate harm to your ears

Comfortable and Fit

When you have narrowed the range down to hearing protection ideal for noise exposure and comply with your job location and work assignments, the decision is solely up to you! Even so, a hearing aid only functions if you wear it regularly and properly while you are exposed to dangerous noise.

Choose a protector that is safe and easy to use. Many people find earplugs more convenient than earmuffs, particularly when wearing them for more extended periods or in hot environments. Earplugs are lightweight, easy to store, and handy to hang on to accidental exposures.

Conversely, earplugs can be more challenging to fit correctly. Some earplugs come in various sizes, so you can need guidance to decide which size is right for you. If your ear canals are tiny or very bent, it might not be easy to locate an earplug that suits you. Earplugs are typically cheap, but they need to be changed regularly; specific earplugs are intended to be used only once and then recycled.

Earmuffs, on the contrary, are commonly one-size devices. Some individuals find it easy to match correctly and reliably. Earmuffs are simpler to detach and repair quickly. Thus, you can prefer them for occasional use. They are bulkier than earplugs and can be painful in warm environments or small spaces.

They are more costly, but they are more versatile and last longer than earplugs. Hearing protection depends on learning how to protect your hearing and how to use proper hearing protection. Take a few minutes to ensure you use the right hearing protection for your job. Then wear it any time you're subject to noise levels above 85 dBA. Your ears are going to applaud you!


The sense of hearing normal ambient noise is critical when purchasing ear protectors. Ensure that all sounds are amplified and maximized for a typical listening environment and that it significantly increases the opportunity to communicate with others for speech clarity.

Other features besides distortion-free amplification can include audio jacks, automatic shut-offs, and volume controls. Electronic devices are available in various models, such as standard earmuffs, but are more costly and need batteries.

What level of hearing protection is needed for shooting?

Shooting needs really good earplugs, it is recommended that people who shoot should use ear plugs and earmuffs at the sametime as the noise levels can be above the recommended level. Shooting ear protectors should have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of at least 17 decibels (dB).

How much protection does each level provide?

The sound level is reduced in dB for each additional number. If a person wears earplugs that block out 28 dB sounds, they will still be able to hear sounds that are as loud as 20dB. This is because the ear will automatically adjust to the reduction of sound levels by turning up the volume on your hearing system and balance it out with external sounds.

So depending on the difference between ambient sound and shooting noise, you might need a 1 or 2 step difference between ambient and shooting noise for maximum protection.

Does shooting damage the ear?

Shooting can cause permanent damage to earphone or hearing apparatus which may result in hearing problems later in life, but this can be minimized by taking regular breaks from shooting and wearing protectors for several hours at a time if you are shooting guns that have a lot of recoil, so on the whole we recommend that all shooters wear hearing protectors, especially those who use pistols and automatics.

Can you get tinnitus in one ear?

Yes, but that is not common. Damage can occur to either of your ears, or both, depending on a number of factors, including the frequency and volume of the noise. But when shooting you can get tinnitus is one ear (the opposite one to the one need to the gun). A hearing test will show which ear has the problem.


As an instructor or guardian, you need to interact efficiently with your shooter before he or she reaches the box. As a trapper, you ought to hear what the gunman signs "pull," and you need to be capable of communicating relevant laws and regulations. Most notably, it would be best if you secured your ears.

Please Note: Just because an ear defender is marked, for example, "Gunshot" - it will still cover other things, like "explosions"

SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus filtered Earplugs, triple flanged design, reusable, Black, Medium
  • 24dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) with filter caps inserted, Hear safe sound levels (with filter caps out) as if you weren't wearing ear plugs
  • Soft, adjustable, triple-flanged stems provide secure seals in ear canals and all-day comfort
  • Low-profile design allows you to keep them in place while wearing a mask, helmet, hat, or while using supplemental hearing muffs
  • Patented EarLock retention rings utilize seven contact points to lock earpieces in place and fit the same way every time
  • Made in USA from hypoallergenic, medical-grade polymer that's soft, durable, and long-lasting
Decibullz - Custom Molded Earplugs, 31dB Highest NRR, Comfortable Hearing Protection for Shooting,...
  • CUSTOM MOLDED EARPLUGS: Easily and quickly fitted to the exact shape of your ear. This creates a perfect fitting earplug that will never hurt, never fall out and provide superior noise isolation.
  • EASY SHAPE SYSTEM: Simply heat the Decibullz thermoplastic molds in boiling water, let them cool for a bit, and shape them to your ears. That's it, and If you don't get the perfect fit the first time Decibullz are the only custom earplugs that are re-moldable.
  • PERFECT FOR ANY SITUATION: Decibullz are perfect for shooting, traveling, working, loud concerts, and safety.
  • INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE: Two Decibullz Thermoplastic Custom Molds, Three Sets of Triple Flange Tips S, M, L, One Set of Max Protect MEDIUM Foam Tips, Earplug Carrying Pouch with Decibullz Logo
  • HEAT SHAPE REMOLD : Get superior sound quality and noise reduction with custom ear pieces for radio. Simply heat the earpiece mold in a cup of boiling water, cool, then insert into your ear. It shapes around your own ear as it cools. Reheat and remold these reusable ear pieces whenever you need to.
Loop Quiet Ear Plugs for Noise Reduction – Super Soft, Reusable Hearing Protection in Flexible...
  • NOISE REDUCTION - Loop Quiet earplugs are reusable and durable hearing protection, made from soft silicone. They reduce most noise and help you to get in your bubble. They have a noise reduction rating (SNR) of 26 decibels, NRR of 14 and come in 6 stylish colors.
  • OPTIMAL COMFORT - These noise reducing earplugs come in 4 different sizes, so you can always find the perfect fit. The iconic round shape of Loop Quiet sits perfectly in your ears, making it a fashionable accessory that protects your hearing.
  • MULTI-PURPOSE - Loop Quiet are versatile earplugs that offer protection from loud noises and background noise in many situations. They are great for sleeping and can help you to focus or to concentrate while studying, working or reading. And of course, they are a must have while traveling or commuting.
  • EASY TO USE - These earplugs are easy to insert and when you wear them correctly, they don't stick out of your ears. They come in 4 sizes (XS - L), if your ears hurt, it is best to take a smaller size. If the earplugs do not reduce sound sufficiently or fall out, it is best to try on a size larger.
  • IN THE BOX - In Loop Quiet's eco-friendly packaging, there is 1 set of Loop Quiet earplugs, 4 sizes of soft silicone ear tips (XS-L) and 1 handy carry case. Our earplugs are reusable and washable, providing a sustainable solution to disposable plugs.

Last update on 2023-11-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other Questions

Do you need ear protection for shooting?

Yes, you do need ear protection for shooting. Wearing ear protection while shooting is important because the firearms are capable of producing noise as loud as 175dB which could damage your hearing. The tolerable noise level for human ears is 70dB. Anything above 85dB is too loud and can result in hearing loss or other hearing issues.

Nowadays, many different kinds of hearing protection are available in the market which are specifically designed for shooters such as earplugs, earmuffs, and earmolds. These hearing protection devices not only suppress the loud noise but also reduce the echo produced by the firearms.

Are earplugs or earmuffs better for shooting?

Earplugs and earmuffs both provide ear protection. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health earplugs and earmuffs should be used together while shooting to get the best outcome. However, earplugs provide more protection than earmuffs because earplugs are capable of fully blocking the ear canal which results in better hearing protection.

Among the many kinds of earplugs available, silicon and foam earplugs are considered to be a good choice for hunters or police officers and military personnel. Earplugs reduce the noise level by 30 decibels making it safe for your ears.

What should I look for in shooting ear protection?

Ear protection is used to protect the ears from loud noise which could potentially damage your hearing. Shooters are more prone to getting hearing issues because of constant exposure to loud sounds. Most firearms are more than 90dB while the tolerable sound level for human ears is 70dB so some kind of hearing protection should be used.

When buying ear protection you should first look at the NRR (noise reducing rating) of the device. If it is 30 or more then it is suitable for you. Secondly, the device should be reliable, comfortable, easy to wear, and easy to clean so you can get maximum use out of it.


If you require more information, please check these references

Sound Attenuation Performance of Fiber-reinforced Polymer Composite Circumaural Hearing Protection Devices , article, "scholarcommons.usf.edu", retrieved on, Mon 16-November-2020

Shooting Sporting Clays , article, "books.google.co.uk", retrieved on, Mon 16-November-2020

Learning to Shoot , article, "www.jstor.org", retrieved on, Mon 16-November-2020

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