Big Game Means Big Ear Protection

Big Game Means Big Ear Protection
Photo by Photo by Sebastian Pociecha on Unsplash

When it comes to hunting game most newbies get excited about their first experience. Important things that matter like protecting your ears, eyes, and well-being can be forgotten especially when you see seasoned veterans out in an active field without any ear protection at all.

Let’s go into depth about why you need ear protection and what happens if you don’t use it. And we will even give a recommendation on what kinds of ear protection works and what types may not.

Be Aware of The Consequences

Regardless of whether you are out in the open hunting deer or elk or you are inside at a range every time you fire, the consequences to your ears without protection are there. For comparison, a 12-gauge shotgun at what is considered to be close range comes in at 165 decibels. That is way louder than a jet engine more than 100 feet away. That comes in at 140 decibels.

Even WITH ear protection, it’s recommended that the ear is not exposed to anything more than 140 decibels. The ears pain threshold starts at about 125 decibels for clarification. This means that regardless if you are hearing a shot every once in a while you are exposing your ears to permanent ear damage considering how close your gun is to your face when it goes off.

What is Hunters Ear?

Hunter’s Ear is commonly interchanged with a shooter’s ear and is a condition developed in one ear that stems from your ear being exposed to too much noise from the gun going off. It can start out as temporary but turn into a permanent condition. What you may originally experience is that you have a harder time hearing after shooting and that’s called a temporary threshold shift. Your ears may be ringing a little.

When it turns to the shooter's ear, both ears can develop a hearing loss but the shoulder that is not bearing the gun usually blocks or protects the other ear just a little bit. That’s why the ear may have slightly more hearing than the other one. It’s referred to as asymmetrical hearing.

This damage, unfortunately, becomes permanent and there is no taking it back or fixing this issue once the damage is done.

Symptoms and Signs of Shooter’s Ear

When you experience some of these symptoms it is best to remove yourself from exposure to gunshot sounds and see a doctor.

  • Feeling like sounds are becoming muffled or somewhat distorted
  • Having a more difficult time processing and hearing when others are talking to you
  • Tinnitus which is when you have a ringing, bussing, or even a roaring sound in your ears
  • Having hearing loss which can last from a few hours to even two full days

Understanding Different Ear Protection

Not all ear protection is a perfect fit for every situation. There are different types of gunshots that will make for better or worse product hearing comforts than others! For instance, hunting in the open air or field is going to produce different echoes than inside range shooting. Let’s go over the scenarios.

Different Shooting Scenarios

Understanding that you need protecting earware for all of the scenarios is important. But it’s even more important to understand that shooting in certain scenarios has even more dangerous threats than others. Ranging from most exposure to least are the following situations.

Indoor range shooting can arguably be some of the most dangerous environments for your ear. This is when rounds are going off at the most frequent rate and exposing your ears to Hunter’s Ear.

Competitive Skeet:
Competitive Skeet is a little less concentrated than range shooting because it is outdoors but it is still a little more frequent than field hunting. This is when the clay is shot into the air for shooting with a shotgun!

Field Hunting:
Field hunting may feel like the setting in which you need earmuffs or protective ear gear the least but like we said just one shot can cause some damage so even though you may only shoot once an hour or something it’s still a must!

How To Choose The Right Ear Protection

There are a few different things that can help you determine what kind of ear protection you need. There is a lot of variety to choose from when it comes to the market and these factors can help you make the right choice.

  1. Type of Shooting - As we mentioned there are different types of shooting that may call for a different type of protection. If you are shooting in a range you may need to hear the Rangemaster which would call for a different kind of ear protection.
  2. NRR - NRR stands for Noise Reduction Rating. This will help determine how much protection you are offering your ears against loud gunshots.
  3. Comfort - Some shooters will prefer earmuffs while others will want to work with earplugs. What you are comfortable with should help you make the decision but while putting the priority on quality NRR first.

Types of Ear Protection

There are a lot of products on the market as we mentioned and it’s important to decipher how each of the ear protection works to make the best quality judgment for your ear safety. Here let’s talk about your options.


Earmuffs can be rated as some of the safest options on the market when it comes to protecting your ears. They encase your ears which helps block out and deafen the gunshot sound. They usually have an NRR of around 30 and don’t require any complex setup.

Example: Walker's Game Razor Slim Passive Earmuff

This product is a great example of a quality earmuff as it has an NRR of 27. You don’t want clunk earmuffs weighing you down which is why these are considered to be low profile and easy to take on and put off. Best of all they aren’t super expensive.

Electronic Earmuffs

Electronic earmuffs are slightly different because they offer a key advantage. They only block super-loud sounds which means you can still hear around you. This makes things a lot easier while hunting in order to hear game around you. It’s also useful in range shooting to hear your Rangemaster.

Example: Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Earmuff 

This particular product has a .02 second reaction time which means the second that the gunshot goes off it works to block out the noise to protect your ears. And while electronic earmuffs are typically very expensive, these one’s coma at a reasonable cost!


Much like the other two examples, earplugs can run traditionally or they can work electronically. Having said that they don’t protect the entire ear which is why you may use this as a second option. Earmuffs are much safer in terms of protecting your ears from developing Hunter’s Ear or Shooter’s Ear.

Something Is Better Than Nothing

Whether you are entirely new to shooting or you are someone who goes out quite a bit for getting your ear protection even once causes damage that you can’t get back. That’s why it is important to not let the sound waves enter the eardrum and deteriorate your hearing bit by bit. Hunter’s Ear or Shooter’s Ear is a serious problem that affects balance because of its asymmetrical hearing loss.

This is because you shoot on one side which exposes one ear more than the other and your arm slightly blocks the other ear. This, however, is all preventable by wearing the right ear protection. You can choose the right protection by considering your shooting conditions and choosing earmuffs that have a great NRR. If you want to hear around you still then an electronic option like the Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Earmuff is a good fit for you!