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Person putting on shooting glasses

Photo by CAHSS

An often dismissed but critical part of firearms safety is taking care of eyes and ears. It is extremely easy to damage the inner ear, and it’s not impossible for a firearm mishap to occur that could leave metal or firearms fragments flying into your face. Always wear proper safety equipment when shooting. Your vision and your hearing are precious.

Personal corrective eyewear and many types of sunglasses do not meet the standard of protection needed by firearms shooters. Generally, safety glasses for civilian shooters should be rated to Z87 + standard and have UV protection.

Ear protection is a must for shooters. Prolonged exposure to noise over 85 decibels (dB) can permanently damage hearing. Choosing the type of hearing protection can depend on the firearm you are shooting. There are various types of hearing protection that can be used; earmuffs and earplugs are most commonly used and these can be basic or electronic. Hearing protection manufacturers clearly list the decibel (dB) level of their products, so always read the packaging to ensure that you are getting the protection that you need for your time shooting.

Ear protection when shooting a rifle can normally be accomplished well with either earplugs or earmuffs. For example, the table indicates the benefits of each.

Fit most ear canals easily (can also get custom-fit)
Have a high noise reduction rating (NRR)
Less expensive than muffs
Less maintenance, cheap enough to throw away after use
May not protect your hearing well enough for magnum rifle dB levels
Easy to use and wear
Come in a variety of sizes
Can get electronic, noise canceling or stereo muffs (which can be fun)
More expensive in the short run, but likely less expensive over time
Generally offer more protection than earplugs

Note: In some situations, like using some magnum rifles, both earplugs and earmuffs should be used together because of the extreme noise of the rifle and the additional protection needed.

Proper personal protection is a part of many activities, and firearms use requires the use of eye and ear protection to prevent immediate and long-term damage. Always use proper eye and ear protection whenever firearms are in use.

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