This Bud’s for You

The Lat­est in In-ear Hear­ing Pro­tec­tion

Firepower - - CONTENTS - TEXT & PHO­TOS BY JOHN SCOTT

Hear this now! The lat­est on in-ear hear­ing pro­tec­tion.

Any­one who shoots a gun with­out at least some form of hear­ing pro­tec­tion risks per­ma­nent hear­ing loss.

Yes, per­ma­nent—as in, ir­re­versible. Once-you-lose-it, it’s-not-com­ing-back kind of dam­age. We owe our abil­ity to hear to our hair cells. Hair cells are sen­sory cells that con­vert sound vi­bra­tions into elec­tri­cal sig­nals that travel to the brain via the au­di­tory nerve, en­abling us to ex­pe­ri­ence the sweet ding of a steel gong at 700 yards.

Loud noises such as those from gun­shots can ac­tu­ally kill hair cells in the in­ner ear. The more hair cells you lose, the less you’ll be able to hear. Though pro­longed ex­po­sure to loud sounds can kill these pre­cious cells, a sin­gle ex­po­sure to a loud sound can kill hair cells too. You know that ring­ing you hear (if you have no ear pro­tec­tion on) af­ter a gun goes bang? That’s your ear let­ting you know that a hair cell just died and that you’re not get­ting it back.

The more you lose, the less you’re able to hear. This is why we can’t stress enough the im­por­tance of qual­ity ear pro­tec­tion. Though in­dis­pens­able to pro­tec­tion of one’s hear­ing, tra­di­tional ear­muffs (elec­tronic or other­wise) present their share of dis­ad­van­tages. More of­ten than not, they draw dis­com­fort, never more so than in hot cli­mates where a sweaty few hours at the range only com­pounds the prob­lem. There is, of course, also the fact that even the most stream­lined ver­sions can still in­ter­fere with your cheek­weld and proper ri­fle aim.

Re­cent re­leases of in-ear hear­ing pro­tec­tion prod­ucts have pre­sented far more op­tions in com­bat­ing the down­sides of their tra­di­tional coun­ter­parts, al­beit at a more substantial mone­tary in­vest­ment. But they also of­fer other ad­van­tages such as small size and stor­age space.

What­ever the case, the po­ten­tial up­side of in-ear al­ter­na­tives led us to ex­pe­dite a list of some of the lat­est au­di­tory in­no­va­tions that have earned our seal of ap­proval. So plug ’em up and save your ears so you can make out the im­por­tant sounds in life—like the ring­ing of steel at 700 yards.

“the ring­ing you hear af­ter a gun goes bang is your ear let­ting you know a hair cell just died and you’re not get­ting it back.”

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