Whenever an unsilenced rifle or shotgun is fired a very, very loud sound is generated within a foot or so of the shooter's head. That you need to protect your ears when you go shooting is obvious; the CPSA states bluntly that shooting without ear defenders causes damage that is "gradual, permanent and irreversible". In fact, as anyone who has ever experienced a perforated eardrum will know, the deterioration is not always gradual.
To begin with the obvious, conventional ear defenders are bulky. Many shooters find that they can interfere with the gunstock and are awkward to carry around when not in use. More seriously, the effectiveness of over-the-ear defenders is reduced significantly when the perimeter sealing to the wearer's head is anything less than ideal. It is quite unlikely that anyone wearing such defenders around a pair of sunglasses, spectacles or any sort of headgear is properly protected.
Custom-made ear plugs, which are precisely manufactured to match a cast taken directly from the wearer's ears, provide superb levels of gunshot noise protection and are extremely comfortable to wear. There is no possibility of them interfering with, or being dislodged by, the movement of the shooter's arm. Available in a range of colours or natural skin tones, they fit securely in the ear and are outstandingly comfortable. Forget any experience you have of trying to force in standard 'one-size-fits-all' earplugs; the professional fitting service provided by AudioFit ensures that your ear protection will be easy to insert, comfortable to wear and capable of the best possible audio seal. Even a product such as our basic Silicone Plugs or the ProtectHear solution (which is fitted with a passive valve, allowing some ambient sounds and speech to be heard) will give excellent protection against gun noise. Our Sonic Valves are another option, specifically designed to react and block out sudden loud noises such as gunshots, as are the well-reviewed Emtec Noisebreakers. These products all deliver excellent, comfortable and cost-effective protection. Nonetheless, many shooters will want something even better.
All ear defenders are designed to stop you hearing to at least some extent and, if properly fitted, solid silicon ear plugs will block out sounds very effectively. The problem is, people who take their shooting seriously often want to be able to hear such things as the rustle of their quarry in the undergrowth, or the flick of a clay trap's mechanism. On a rifle range you may like to hear normal conversation between shots, but still want to be protected should anyone commence firing nearby.
Incredibly, there are now hearing protection systems available which can actually even improve on your normal hearing and yet deliver superb audio protection - simultaneously. The state-of-the-art digital processing incorporated in products such as CENS Digital and CENS ProFlex transmits safe levels of ambient sound through to the ear, preserving directional information, but instantly delivers a dramatic reduction in the audio level when sound exceeds safe levels. That means a shooter can not only hear as well as someone who has no hearing protection, but in fact - with the help of a little tweak of extra amplification, which the user can adjust easily at any time - audio perception can be enhanced enormously, to levels that really have to be experienced to be believed. Being able to hear more than you normally would, and still have excellent perception of direction, is an advantage to any hunter.
These systems aren't cheap, but with the back-up of Puretone's factory technicians you can expect many years of service from your purchase. When you bear in mind that with CENS you might be able to continue shooting well for an extra decade or two, the price doesn't seem so bad.