- Types of Hearing Protection
- In the ear. Any hearing protection that sticks in your ears.
- Over the ear. Any hearing protection that goes over your ears.
- Eye Protection
- Are Prescription Glasses OK to shoot with?
- Range Bag
You need to look after yourself and you should be shooting a gun before you purchase it. To shoot you are going to need ear and eye protection. You can purchase these things even before you have your first gun. Eye protection and hearing protection are personal items and not really anything you want to borrow or share with other people. I would add a third item, a carry bag, or range bag. A small carry bag to put the eye and ear protection in.
Protecting your eyes is a no-brainer. There are so many great options out there for eye protection, price may be your biggest choice factor.
Your hearing is an essential sense and not something you want to mess with. Ear protection can be as simple as a pack of disposable earplugs all the way to sound-enhancing electronic earmuffs.
Types of Hearing Protection
In the ear. Any hearing protection that sticks in your ears.
Blocking your ear canal is the most effective way to protect your hearing. NRR is the Noise Reduction Rating, so an NRR of 29 will reduce the sound by 29 Decibels. Earplugs have an average NRR of 33 dB, which is good. Look at the product you are purchasing for the NRR rating, the higher the better.
Disposable ear plugs
Disposable plugs are great to have on hand for when your friends are unprepared or forgot their gear. Automotive track meets and concerts are another time that you will be happy you have these plugs in your carry bag or car! The tapered plugs are much more comfortable than the tube-shaped ones. Be sure to squeeze down the plugs and hold them in your ear till they expand to fit. For some people extended wearing of push in earplugs can be painful, but protection far outweighs no protection.
Shaped to fit ear plugs
There is often a stand at big gun shows to make fitted plugs while you wait. You can even get kits to make these plugs at home. They are washable and reusable and fitted just for you. A lot of people swear by these plugs as super comfortable and they offer great hearing protection.
Electronic in the ear protection.
Small electronic hearing protection, just like a hearing aid, can go in your ear. If you get a rechargeable type you will not have to worry about the small batteries. The charge can last between 4 and fourteen hours. They are now Bluetooth connectable, but using Bluetooth will shorten the hours down to the 4. Without Bluetooth the buds last the 14 hours before they need a charge. Electronic hearing protection offers sound enhancement as well as suppression. You can get them just as earbuds or a connected rope type if you are prone to losing the small buds. There are also versions that rest on your neck and have buds for the ears.
Over the ear. Any hearing protection that goes over your ears.
Ear muffs can range from simple to sound-enhancing electronics. Earmuffs have to completely cover your ear with a good seal. The NRR for earmuffs is an average of 31 dB. Some people combine earplugs with earmuffs and the cumulative gain is 36 dB. For some people, glasses can interfere with the muff seal and in hot weather, they can be even hotter. On the other hand, in cold weather, you will love the added warmth.
I like earmuffs, I prefer them to any in the ear protection. Because you inevitably end up taking your hearing protection off and on a lot, when it is not electronic, sticking back in a now waxy ear bud is not appealing to me. I use simple sound blocking muffs, no batteries required. They are good to go even though I do miss some of the conversations. I like a slimline ear muff, youth or women size fits me well. If you are a big guy get a bigger size. Better sound protection may mean a bulkier muff.
The only thing I am thinking of adding is a catch on my belt to hold them. I often take my earmuffs off my ears and leave them on my head or neck, I think it would be great to clip them to my belt instead.
Electronic earmuffs can be great for enhancing surrounding sounds as well as giving you great hearing protection. They use SAC or Sound Activated Compression. They are activated at quick sounds 90 decibels and up. Electronic hearing protection is not good for constant sounds, you cannot use them in a workshop environment. For shooting, they generally suppress sound by 24 to 34 decibels.
When you are on the range you can leave electronic earmuffs on longer because you can easily have conversations. You can turn them up when you are hunting by yourself to reach out and listen for your prey. The downside is if you forget to turn them off and the power runs out. Having spare batteries in your carry bag is a must. Most run on AAA batteries that are very easy to stock.
You will always need eye protection. Shooting glasses often have yellow lenses to enhance your vision, but it is not necessary. You are looking for impact and UV protection. You could grab hardware specials that are super cheap and just replace them when they get scratched up. But what you need to look for is the ANSI rating on the frame. You want to see Z87 +. The plus means they are rated for a higher impact. Most safety glasses are marked Z87. They can also be marked Z87.1 +, and Z87.2 +. The .2 is what is marked on prescription glasses. On the right side of the lens, you can look for other markings which relate to other properties. See the list below.
Military-grade shooting glasses are the strongest for impact. The military-grade is MIL-PRF-32432. You may not find this grade printed on the glasses. They may be marked with the Z87 + but the lenses have a higher impact rating.
Are Prescription Glasses OK to shoot with?
I wear a prescription glasses for long distance and have always just worn my prescription glasses to the range. My prescription sunglasses are good quality and I like to shoot in them too. The biggest problem with this is regular glasses are not safety glasses. To make a prescription lens work it needs to be relatively flat. Look at your safety glasses and you will see they have a big curve to wrap close to your face and give all the way around protection.
I use poly lenses in my glasses, so it is a little safer than a glass lens, but they are not rated for impact or UV protection the same as shooting/safety glasses. I could not shoot without my prescription glasses, the target would just be an unrecognizable blob. The best answer for me would be an over the glasses pair of safety glasses.
You could also get prescription shooting/sports glasses. If I was a competitive shooter, or just could not stand the over-glasses, this would be my other option. The price is a big jump from regular safety glasses, with the frames starting at $99 to $299 before the prescription lens is cut for you.
You can see in the over your glasses safety glasses how the space is filled. The space between the flat prescription glasses and your curved face.
You can choose to spend more money on your glasses. There is a big range of pricing. Investing in yourself and your shooting glasses may not be high on your list. But once you have tried an expensive pair you may never be able to go back to the $10 specials.
The third addition I recommend is a range bag. This may not be completely essential, but I have just sold you on ear and eye protection, and spare batteries. So, at the least, a bag just to hold these essentials is a good idea. Depending on what you shoot, the bag size can change. But a few features remain the same. The bag should be rugged, have some pockets, and a reliable heavy-duty zipper. It can be a bag you rest on the bench or a backpack for more outdoor hiking.
Right size for the job.
A “go-bag” is a bag you grab to go, with everything you need for what you are doing. You should plan a go-bag for the type of shooting you want to do. Inside range, outside range. Not holstering, holstering. Shotgun. Rifle. Target. Hunting. So many choices.
Casual Handgun Target Shooting
I am not going to write about a three-day Elk Hunt in late November and what your pack should hold. I want to cover a go-bag for the new shooter. In our article on How to choose a handgun for a new shooter, we suggest trying guns before you buy. Many indoor ranges will offer rentals. Friends with guns will also be a source to try before you buy.
A medium-size bag that could hold your ear and eye protection and a pistol when you get one, is a good start. Your eye protection and gun could be in cases already. I would suggest a soft bag for your pistol so it is not too bulky, but the bag should be big enough to fit your items in their cases. Along with eyes, and ears, you may want to carry sun protection, bug repellant, and a small amount of ammo.
I might not be a new shooter, but my ear and eye protection could sure do with an update. I have been a little less safe than I should be. I’m getting a set of over glasses for my prescription glasses and see how I do at the range.