Friday, August 21, 2020

Custom Hearing Protection

Whether using firearms or operating noisy machinery or (especially if you ride motorcycles) dealing with wind noise, there are times you need hearing protection. Sometimes earmuffs, fancy or plain, may not be the best fit for the conditions, or you may need more than just muffs.

The usual fix for this is earplugs like these, or these, or these.  All of them work; however, the problem some people run into is that they won't stay in place (especially the foam plugs) when you have to talk or move around much, or they just don't fit your ears well.

This brings me to these: do-it-yourself custom earplugs.  They may not be quite as nice as those you can sometimes find being made a gun shows, but they cost a lot less, too.

How they work:
  1. Make sure your ears and hands are clean.
  2. The kit comes with two small tubs, each with a lump of compound in it.
  3.  Take half of each, and knead that together for 30-45 seconds, no more, until the color is even.
  4. Roll it between your palms into a smooth ball with no creases.
  5. Put it into your ear and push it in place. (A mirror helps.) Don't try to shove it all in; it needs to go a little into the ear canal but not too far, and there should be enough, after you push and fold it in and smooth it, to fill the inner bowl of the ear.
  6. Sit down for ten minutes without no chewing, drinking, or talking. 
  7. After a few minutes you'll start hearing popping sounds as the mix starts to cure and harden, which will increase for a couple of minutes, then start dying down.
  8. After ten minutes you should be able to get hold of the top edge and pull/roll it out.  
  9. Set that one aside and do the other ear.  
  10. Let them sit for a few hours to completely cure.

The Good: I really like these because, unlike any other earplug I've used, they don't start working back out after a few minutes. They'll fit under a motorcycle helmet, they're washable, and can be had in several colors (my last set was pink, which is very easy to find if I drop one).  They'll also last a long time; one of my sets is almost two years old.

The not really Bad, but keep in mind: the package shows a Noise Reduction Rating(NRR) of 26, which is the same as a lot of low-profile earmuffs, less than some of the foam-type.  Shooting outside, or around loud equipment or power tools they work well; for an indoor range I'd want them and muffs, especially around rifles and shotguns.

For what they are, I give them a five-star rating.

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