“Safety first” is a time-tested saying. Before deciding whether something’s worth trying or not, it’s essential to take steps to make it reasonably safe. It’s great to have fun on the shooting range, but not if you act recklessly with your hearing. That’s why many firearm owners are turning to Bluetooth ear protection as a way to protect their hearing.
It’s no secret that firearms are loud, and loud sounds can damage the ear canal without a proper hearing protector. Even a single exposure to loud noise can cause permanent damage, so it’s vital to protect your hearing in a noisy environment. Bluetooth earmuffs are one way to find noise isolation, creating a seal inside the device where the noise level is brought down to safe decibels. It doesn’t mean you won’t hear any loud sounds, but the seal from the earmuffs will negate the level of harmful noises. If the earmuffs are rated high enough for the firearm you’re using, you can save your hearing a lot of hassle. Bluetooth hearing protection allows you to enjoy the hunt or firing range without going through the discomfort of hearing loss.
Why is Bluetooth ear protection good for hearing protection?
Electronic hearing protection blocks out harmful sounds without separating you from the world. Think of it like a gatekeeper who defends the castle walls and lets people come in. When it comes to electronic earmuffs, there are two types: regular electronic hearing protection and Bluetooth. In both earmuffs, loud sounds are stopped before they ever get the chance to reach your ears. Soft ear cushions create a seal around the outer ear. This seal prevents sound from penetrating with full force, reducing its power so your ear canal doesn’t get damaged. The trick is that Bluetooth has a wider range of possible uses. Electronic hearing protection is designed to block harmful noises and only amplify human speech. However, Bluetooth earmuffs come with a Bluetooth connection which allows them an advantage over other foam earplugs. Bluetooth protection hooks up directly to your phone, with a speaker inside the muffs, and lets you listen to audio from your phone. The connection hooks up to any audio on your phone: music, radio, podcasts, audiobooks, news outlets, and phone calls.
Some Bluetooth earmuffs even come with a built-in microphone to complete the headset. If you’re shooting with a friend, you can keep talking to each other through the connection. Communication is huge when you’re using firearms. Especially for beginners, you have to know when the range is clear, when it’s safe to fire, and when someone’s trying to get your attention. Bluetooth headsets enable you to give clear instructions at all times to people on the firing range.
Bluetooth Ear Protection Technology
Bluetooth headphones provide noise protection through a wireless connection to a phone or smart device. The earmuffs block outside noises while tiny speakers deliver sounds inside, like music, audiobooks, and radio stations. Unlike regular electronic hearing protection, Bluetooth provides more than just human speech. It’s a two-in-one package: regular headphones mixed with earmuffs. After all, why carry the two separately when you can combine them into a single package? It gives you the safety you need and still allows you the freedom to listen to what you want, where you want.
Can earbuds be used as hearing protection?
They can, but not the regular kind that goes with your phone. Those don’t create a proper seal, nor do they expand to block the whole ear canal like earplugs. Noise protection earbuds come in Bluetooth form now and are considered pretty comfortable. Not only do they provide similar protection to earmuffs, but they can play whatever audio you like with greater flexibility. They’re easier to put in your pocket and carry around with you. Working with power tools? Earbud protectors work easily around helmets and safety glasses. Depending on the model, you may not even be sacrificing that much battery life. When it comes to battery life, earbuds can be competitive with electronic earmuffs.
How long is the battery life?
Bluetooth hearing protection requires a battery to work. Just like any Bluetooth device, it can’t do its job unless it’s got access to a reliable power source. While the average charge length varies depending on the model, most Bluetooth earmuff owners can expect an average battery life of 8 to 10 hours. Just don’t forget to turn them off after you’re finished.
Many Bluetooth models come with a rechargeable battery equipped in the headset. Not all models have this, though, so remember to check when you’re buying them. Rechargeable and non-rechargeable models both give you excellent noise protection but may require a little more maintenance than you’re used to.
For example, you may have to plug in the sets before going to the range, or else you’ll come ready for shooting and…the batteries are dead. Forgetting to charge and change batteries can be a big disadvantage if you’re just starting to use Bluetooth technology. Give your devices time to charge before using them in the wild or on the range. In most cases, the ear cup alone is not enough to guarantee adequate noise protection, so charging the devices is vital.
What is the best noise reduction rating?
Sound is measured in decibels (dB), and anything above 70 decibels has the chance to disrupt your hearing and cause damage. Almost all firearms create a sound that is at least that loud when you fire, so you’ve got to know how to reduce noise.
All hearing protection comes with a noise reduction rating or NRR. The NRR appears on the packaging or product specs and clearly states how many decibels it lowers the sound level. For example, earmuffs that lower the noise level by ten decibels will be labeled something like this: -15 dB. The best NRR varies depending on the model, but Bluetooth earmuffs can score in the high twenties.
You can also wear earplugs in combination with other types of hearing protection, but this doesn’t double the NRR or anything. Instead, it takes the decibels down another 4-10 points, which is still pretty useful. However, most people find that only using one method is more than enough to fit their hearing protection needs.
Other Types of Ear Protection
Electronic earmuffs are a relatively new invention, and there are other types of hearing protection that have been around for a while. Despite their reliability, they can be quite pricey, which adds up when you combine additional expenses related to firearms and firearm ownership. If you’re new to the firearm club, you might consider some cheaper alternatives to hearing protection that are just as safe. Here are the main two:
Earplugs. Earplugs are foam or flanged cones you roll up and place in your ear. Instead of covering the outer ear like an earmuff, earplugs protect your inner ear. Once you’ve rolled the devices between your fingers, insert about half of it into the ear. It should start to expand over the next 45 seconds or so, eventually blocking out hearing with a foam seal.
You know that feeling you get when your ears need to pop, and everything goes a little quieter? When an earplug is properly inserted, it should sound like that—except without the discomfort, of course. If your earplugs hurt, you probably pushed them in too far, or it’s time to consider another alternative to hearing protection. Also, most earplugs are disposable, intended to be used, and then thrown away. There are some washable plastic or silicone models, though, so you might consider using those.
Earmuffs. These work just like Bluetooth hearing protection but with fewer parts. Regular earmuffs don’t use electronic noise protection—they come as two foam seals connected by a headband without any electric parts. The headband is usually adjustable so it can sit comfortably on both your ears. Once the earmuffs are on, they should sit snugly—not too tight, not too loose. Unlike most Bluetooth earmuffs, they won’t permit you to clearly understand human speech because they block out all noise, not just harmful ones. But many people like the protection earmuffs provide because they still get the job done and are also cheaper. Plus, you’ll never forget to charge its batteries. It doesn’t have any.
Noise-Canceling Headphones. Noise-canceling ear protection is an excellent option for the firing range because it blocks harmful noises while allowing human speech to come through. The firing range is one of the worst places for hearing because of how loud sounds can get. Even if you’re hunting outdoors, the sound is still powerful—it doesn’t just “fade away” when you’re outside. Because firearms can reach decibel (dB) limits much higher than human tolerance, noise cancellation is needed when working around firearms.
Your hearing is worth the best protection you can give it. Responsible firearm owners must use the right tools at the right time, including tools for safety. Bluetooth-compatible earphones make protection much easier and more convenient than traditional methods. They deliver a great blend between quality, enjoyment, and comfort.