Earplugs Vs. Earmuffs for Shooting – How to Choose Your Hearing Protection

Earplugs Vs. Earmuffs for Shooting

The ear, one of our most delicate senses, is susceptible to permanent damage from prolonged exposure to loud noise. Consequently, safeguarding our ears becomes imperative, particularly in noisy environments.

Inevitably, our professional engagements often lead us to places with elevated noise levels. For certain individuals, such exposure extends beyond the confines of the workplace. Those who engage in various forms of short- or long-range shooting also face extended periods of exposure to loud noises.

Over time, continuous exposure to noise levels surpassing 70 dB can compromise hearing, while any sound louder than 120 dB has the potential to cause instantaneous harm. Hence, it becomes essential to consistently employ ear protection during shooting drills.

Fortunately, the market offers an array of noise-canceling equipment, with earplugs and earmuffs being the most prevalent options. The choice between the two can sometimes be perplexing. Let’s delve into a closer examination of both alternatives.

Earplugs Vs. Earmuffs for Shooting: Which is better for Shooting?


Headphones are soft, plastic-encased ear covers designed to protect the ears from loud noises by fitting snugly over them.

Advantages of Headphones

One of the primary advantages of headphones is their one-size-fits-all design, eliminating the need for custom fittings. Many models come with adjustable bands, ensuring a perfect fit for the wearer.

Headphones provide enhanced protection against higher frequencies, and their application is both straightforward and painless. Placing the earmuffs comfortably over the ears while securing the band over the head is all that’s required.

Their size makes them easy to locate, eliminating concerns about misplacement. Additionally, a quick scan of the surroundings can reveal whether others are wearing them.

Certain electronic headphone models feature audio input ports and microphone connections, enabling users to make phone calls without removing them.

Headphones are a common winter accessory, providing warmth to the ears and enhancing comfort in cold climates.

They outlast earplugs and are more resilient, making them ideal for use in noisy and unsanitary environments without risking ear infections.

Disadvantages of Headphones

Despite their benefits, some users find headphones uncomfortable for prolonged wear, especially in warm, humid conditions, as the material can cause irritation to the skin around the ears.

Due to their external design, headphones offer less noise protection than earplugs, are heavier, and less portable. Additionally, they can be relatively expensive.

Wearing headphones may pose challenges when combining them with other safety gear like helmets and safety eyewear, potentially affecting the fit. Users with prescription glasses may also experience discomfort.


Earplugs are ear protection devices made from materials like polyurethane foam, silicone, soft plastic, and PVC, designed to be inserted into the ear canal to block out sounds.

Advantages of Earplugs

A key advantage of earplugs lies in their versatility, available in moldable and pre-molded forms, and in disposable or reusable options.

Compact and portable, earplugs can be easily carried in a zip-top bag or pocket, offering excellent defense against loud noises.

Earplugs can be comfortably used alongside other safety gear, such as prescription or safety goggles, and they do not interfere with helmet use.

Designed for use in confined spaces, earplugs are effective noise-cancelling tools in hot, humid environments, preventing full ear coverage and minimizing the risk of allergies or irritations.

Affordability is another notable advantage, as earplugs can be purchased in bulk without breaking the bank.

Disadvantages of Earplugs

While earplugs can be customized, they may not be suitable for everyone, especially individuals prone to ear infections.

Frequent adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit, potentially increasing the overall cost.

Correct insertion techniques are crucial for earplugs to remain secure and provide consistent noise protection. Improper insertion can lead to loosening, exposing the ears to sudden increases in noise levels.

Earplugs should only be used in sterile, dry conditions, and maintaining proper personal hygiene is essential to prevent infections and irritations.

Despite their portability, earplugs are delicate and can be challenging to keep track of.

Final Conclusion

Each product possesses its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. However, both can effectively protect against excessive noise. Therefore, your choice of safety equipment should be based on the volume and duration of the noise exposure you anticipate.

When acquiring the equipment, carefully examine the packaging for the NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). This value indicates the number of decibels by which the noise will be reduced when the device is worn. Additionally, consider factors such as hygiene and comfort.

It is crucial to remember that wearing hearing protection is a preventive measure for preserving your hearing. In especially intense situations, for optimal safety, you may even consider wearing both types simultaneously.

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