How Much Hearing Protection is Needed for Shooting?

How much hearing protection is needed for shooting?

ISOtunes Sport Team / Published: Apr-06-2021

It’s a question we get regularly from hunters and sport shooters. How much hearing protection do I need? Whether shooting at the gun range, pheasant hunting with friends or toting your favorite rifle around woods after that big buck, taking your ear and hearing protection seriously should be a top priority for anyone around firearms.

It’s no secret gunshots are loud. But how loud exactly? And how much hearing protection should I be using if I want to be safe and preserve my hearing? The pain threshold for the average adult ear tends to hover around 140 dB. That’s the same noise level as a typical rock concert. Gunshots, depending on the caliber and firearm configuration, tend to register closer to 150-170 dB. For comparison sake, jet engines often register around 130 dB during takeoff. Prolonged exposure to those levels of noise will no doubt be detrimental to long term hearing.

Spend any amount of time at the shooting range and you’ll quickly realize there is one thing trained operators and everyday sport shooters have in common. They all take safety and comfort very seriously. They could be sighting in a new rifle, staying practiced and trained up on handguns, or busting clay pigeons with friends, but ear and eye protection is standard equipment.


There are a number of different styles of hearing protection available for today’s sportsmen and women. The most common forms of hearing protection for shooting are earmuffs, earplugs and earplug headphones. Regardless of your style preference, when looking at the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) for shooting, the higher the number the better. Whether shooting indoors or outdoors, the same principles apply. A great rule of thumb when considering what Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is best for shooting -- start by aiming for a protection level of at least 25 decibels. If your hearing protection has at least a 25 NRR and doesn’t sacrifice comfort or compromise your ability to communicate with others, you’ll be in great shape.

When it comes to selecting your hearing protection there are two critical things to keep in mind:

How much noise reduction will a product deliver?

How much will it affect your ability to communicate with others?

The flip side to the noise reduction coin is communication. One must always be alert and able to communicate with those around them, especially when dealing with firearms. You shouldn’t have to choose between hearing safety and communicating with others.


How loud is a Gunshot?

ISOtunes Sport Team / Published: Apr-13-2021