NRR Rating For Shooting: A Data Driven Comprehensive Study

nrr rating for shootingYou must have shooting ear protection irrespective of the caliber, gauge, or bore.

Someone from your local gun store may persuade you saying you won’t be needing it since it is only a .22 rifle. The truth is, he is wrong. To protect your sense of sound, you need earmuff. 


So, whenever it comes to shooting: indoor or outdoor shooting range, you need earmuff to protect your ears. Then the question arises “What should be the NRR?”. Well, that’s the topic I will be talking about today. Keep reading, you may find it useful.


NRR Rating For Shooting

NRR measures the effectiveness of the earmuff. It indicates how effective it is to block the loud noise entering your inner ears. This is the first thing you have to notice when you get an earmuff for shooting. The more the NRR number the more effective it is to block the loud gunshot. 


That being said, you should understand the minimum required NRR for the gun of your choice. The NRR required for a rifle would be more than a pistol, right? To understand, which NRR is suitable for you – you should learn how to calculate the NRR. Let me give you an example.


Let’s understand how many decibel reductions happen when we wear any ear protection. The math is simple to understand. You should subtract 7 from the NRR mentioned in the earmuff and divide the result by 2. That means if the earmuff has an NRR of 33 the amount of decibel reduction will be: (33-7) / 2 = 13. 


Now, let’s say the gun you use produces a loud noise of 110 decibels. So, if you wear an earmuff having NRR of 33, you will be exposed to (110 – 13) = 97 decibels. Did you understand simple math?


I used the above example to explain it simply. Do not take it literally. The highest NRR of an earmuff is 31.


Hearing Impairment From Shooting

Let’s try to understand why does it matter to you to learn about the NRR rating. If you are a hunter or a target shooter, you should pay attention. As I said in the beginning, hearing loss or impairment from both target shooting or hunting is not a joke. I am not exaggerating even a little.

To valid my point, let me give you a Swiss study. They conducted a study on 1,700 hunters and found some fascinating result. Almost 11% of the hunters were suffering from severe hearing loss! Almost the same percentage was suffering from hearing loss during the test.


In the United States, similar studies conducted and found almost the same result. I am talking about this to make you understand how shooting without any hearing protection may lead to hearing impairment or hearing loss. You do not want to suffer from these problems, you have to understand the NRR.


You will find a lot of debate on whether earmuff or earplug is better for shooting. Go to some shooting forums and you will be overwhelmed with the never-ending debate. Next, I will try to resolve the debate for you.


Myth About Combined NRR of Earmuff & Earplug

 As double ear protection, while shooting, some people wear earplug in addition to the earmuff. Earplug has the highest NRR of 33. So, what will happen if you wear an earplug having NRR of 33 and an earplug with 31 NRR? Will that set up give you a total NRR of 64? 


No! It does not work that way. In combined, they will give you the highest NRR of 38. Yes, it’s that simple. All you have to do just add number 5 to the highest NRR of the earplug or the earmuff. You only need this double hearing protection when you will be exposed to excessive noise. 


Now, what do we know about excessive noise?


Any level of noise exposure that exceeds the limit of 85 decibels is considered to be harmful noise. And that will damage your sense of sounds. It won’t happen overnight, but it will damage your hearing power in the coming future. Wearing any sort of hearing protection is highly recommended when you expose yourself to such noise level continuously.


Need For A Higher NRR Earmuff or Earplug

Not just for the shooting, you need it for multiple other applications. You need them when you go to any rock concerts or simply moan your lawn. But let’s talk about why do you need it for the shooting. Do you need an earplug or an earmuff for the shooting?


I would recommend having an earmuff. Yes, earplugs have more NRR and are more efficient to block such loud gunshot but you can’t hear other ambient sounds in the shooting range. When you go to any indoor shooting range, you have to hear the instruction of the instructor, right?


Well, you can’t hear any such ambient sounds using an earplug. That is problematic for the indoor shooting. That’s why I recommend using the earmuff. Using earmuff lets hear all instructions. More so, you can communicate with other participants in the range.


Modern earmuffs come with a lot of other modern facilities like Bluetooth and a music player. So, in addition to communicate with others, you can listen to your favorite music or radio while you are in the range.


You can find a lot of brands offering quality earmuffs in the market. Howard Leight and Peltor Sports are the most popular brands out there. Whatever brand you pick, make sure to check the NRR first and read some verified customer reviews to get the idea of its quality.


Wrap Up

Sound pollution is already damaging our hearing capacity. We go to work or go to any party, we expose ourselves to loud noises. Using a shotgun or a rifle in the shooting range is the extreme source of such loud noise that can impair our hearing permanently.


Having a quality earmuff with higher NRR can protect you from damaging your hearing power permanently. Let me know in the comment box if you need to know more about NRR.

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.