Shooting Sports: Understanding NRR

Shooting Sports: High NRR Hearing Protection

All ear-pro is not created equal; sometimes you need more protection

WESTWOOD, Mass. (September 17, 2020) – Price, comfort and convenience regularly impact shooters’ hearing-protection buying decisions. Too often, however, performance—the variable that matters most—is not given adequate consideration. In the North American market, Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is the convention used to rate any hearing protection product’s performance.

“With any new shooter, the best thing you can do is give them the highest NRR product available,” says Howard LeightTM Shooting Sports National Sales Manager, Chris Leight. “Blocking out more noise helps ensure they stay comfortable and have better experiences. The higher the NRR, the better the product protects,” Leight explains. “There is a huge difference between an NRR of 23 and an NRR of 29. Acoustic energy doubles every 3dB, so a product with a 29 NRR actually provides 200% more protection than a product with an NRR of 23.”

Helping new shooting sports participants to have better initial experiences is only one reason for using hearing protection products with a high NRR. Shooting sports enthusiasts should also consider what and where they are shooting. For example, certain firearms produce more sound than others.

A high-powered rifle that produces a peak of 158dB is going to be exponentially louder than a .22 cal. rifle that produces 140dB. Shooters should make hearing-protection decisions accordingly.

Competitive shooter, Travis Gibson, discusses his choice of electronic hearing protection when shooting louder firearms.

The shooting environment matters, too. Indoor shooting produces a lot of reverberation, and covered outdoor shooting can be just as loud. Sound has nowhere to go in these environments. For louder firearms or indoor or covered shooting situations, selecting hearing protection with the highest possible NRR is the smart choice.

Doubling up – wearing both foam earplugs beneath earmuffs – is a viable option for high-noise situations as well. The NRR will not double, but the practice can still provide a significant increase in protection.

Foam Earplugs

Foam earplugs are the most commonly used form of hearing protection for many good reasons, but primarily because they are inexpensive and provide the highest available NRR—up to 33dB. The simple design of foam earplugs delivers great performance and protection. When inserted properly, they completely seal the ear canal, while the cellular composition of the foam creates tiny airspaces which fracture and re-fracture sound waves.

Foam earplugs remain the best choice for maximum protection. Howard Leight Shooting Sports offers numerous models of foam earplugs, designed for both men and women that are made right here in the USA. Corded, uncorded, one-time use and reusable models are available, starting at just pennies per pair.

High-NRR Electronic Hearing Protection

Slim earcups are all the rage with many shooters, but size matters when it comes to maximizing protection, which is the precise reason why the Howard Leight ImpactTM PRO electronic earmuff features a larger earcup design. The proof lies in the performance. With an NRR of 30, Impact PRO provides twice the protection of an earmuff with a 27dB NRR, and four times more protection than one with an NRR of 24dB. Ultimately, this means shooters wearing Impact PRO can have a safer and more enjoyable shooting experience at the range, in the field, or during competition.

Featuring aggressive, tactical styling and a padded headband and earcup cushions, the versatile Impact PRO is adjustable to provide a very comfortable fit on a wide range of shooters, including youth, women and others with smaller heads. Impact PRO’s high NRR and adjustable fit make it an ideal choice for kids or others new to shooting sports. Up to 4X sound amplification means they’ll clearly hear range commands and other verbal instructions, while blocking out more of the noise that intimidates many new shooters and makes the experience less enjoyable.

Impact PRO is designed with thoughtfully placed, rubberized pressure points to minimize the possibility of gunstock scratching, while a simple, single control dial turns the unit on and off and adjusts volume. Power comes via two included AAA batteries, the life of which is maximized through a convenient 4-hour auto shutoff feature.

Whatever your experience level in the shooting sports, it’s never too late to start giving more thought to your hearing protection. Don’t assume your current hearing protection delivers adequate protection against hearing loss – especially when operating loud firearms or shooting in noisy environments. You have more options available than ever before.


Honeywell Safety Products empower individuals and families across the globe to enjoy more and worry less. Our high-quality hearing and eye protection help people to more safely enjoy the events and activities they love. Our broad selection of comfortable and stylish protective eyewear delivers safety without compromise, many of which meet ANSI high-impact standards and offer UVA/UVB protection. Building on over 30 years of innovation, we’re continually developing new designs, materials and technologies to enhance comfort and protection for industry trade professionals, recreational and competitive shooters, DIY homeowners, and all fans of live music and sporting events. Whatever your passion, trust Howard Leight to block out the noise so you can listen to what’s important, while staying safely focused on the big moments that matter. Learn more at

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