An in-depth look at Gun Accessories-Ear, Hand, Eye Protection
Ready to start shooting? You’ve bought your firearms, gun safe, and cleaning supplies, and you think that the worst is over. You think you’ve purchased everything you need to be a responsible gun owner. Wait for just a second, because you still need some gear that will keep you safe while shooting, your firearm accessories. Have you even considered Ear, Hand and Eye protection?
There are three essential body parts that you need to protect: ears, eyes, and hands. You should buy gear that is specifically designed to shield these parts of your body. Even though much of the gear discussed in this article is associated with the gun range, you should still wear these products no matter where you are shooting. Read on to find out more.
Do you know about the Cardinal Rules of Gun Safety?
Probably the most important item on this list. Some sort of ear protection is essential to stave off hearing loss.
Guns present a danger to your hearing because of the intensity of their sound—measured in decibels (dB). Doctors consider sounds 85dB or more as dangerous to our hearing. A .22 Rifle with a silencer shoots at 115dB, while a 44 Revolver can shoot at 170dB. Obviously, with those high decibels, ear protection is crucial. Hearing loss is permanent, then you will be looking at prescription hearing aids instead of earplugs.
Ear protection comes in two varieties, earbuds (plus) and ear muffs. Both of these styles have advantages and drawbacks.
Earbuds are extremely affordable. You can get a package of foam earmuffs easily at any drugstore. When used correctly, earbuds have been scientifically proven to be effective at protecting hearing while shooting. You can also purchase rubber ear plugs, and kits that allow you to customize the fit of your earplugs. Some drawbacks of earplugs are that they do not last very long and may not fit into every person’s ears.
You do have the option of getting reusable earplugs like the Firebird silicone earplugs below.
Earmuffs are also a popular option for ear protection and cover your entire ear. Recently, there have been technological advancements in this product. Now you can buy electronic muffs that combine the ability to hear low-level sounds (like conversations) and ear protection. The electronic trigger in the ear muffs recognizes when dangerous sound levels are reached, and blocks that sound from reaching your ear. These muffs are more expensive than the traditional model, and usually, require batteries.
How to choose hearing protection
You want to keep in mind the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of any product that you are considering for ear protection. In the United States, you can currently get ear protection that covers a range of 0-33dB. Earbuds and muffs attempt to lower the intensity of a sound, not block it out completely, so they do not need to have a higher rating than 33dB Thus, for shooting, choose ear protection that covers the upper end of the protected range (25-30dB), and you should be covered.
These electronic ear muffs by Howard Leight are highly rated and come in many colors. They are perfect for Range Shooting with the built-in amplification to hear commands.
How to Use
Depending on the type of ear protection you choose, you will wear them differently. If you choose to use earbuds, you need to twist them to put them in your ear.
Earmuffs, on the other hand, fit over your head and cover your ears. You can buy ear muffs with the strap on top of your head or behind your neck.
You will want whatever ear protection you choose to be comfortable, otherwise, you won’t wear it. Thus, defeating the purpose of buying ear protection in the first place.
Additionally, you will want to try your ear protection out with the other gear you will be wearing. For example, if you wear ear muffs, they may not allow you to wear safety glasses comfortably. Make sure that all of the gear you purchase works together appropriately.
Looking for a great IWB holster, we have a Taurus PT111 G2 IWB Holster available for you.
Finally, some shooters choose to combine ear plugs and ear muffs. This will provide a little more protection against the sound of your shot, as it provides a double barrier for the decibels to penetrate. However, combining plugs and muffs will not give you twice the protection. Even so, for guns that shoot at a more intense level, the extra protection may be needed to fully protect your ears from the sound of the shot.
Eye protection should also be an important component of your firearm safety gear. Just as you don’t want a permanent hearing loss, you don’t want vision problems. Wear safety glasses any time you want to prevent something from getting in your eye, which should be always when shooting. Accidents happen far more often than you might assume.
There is a big difference between regular safety glasses and ballistic safety glasses. You will want to pick glasses that are specifically designed for shooting. To qualify as ballistic safety glasses, a company must pass both the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirements AND military requirements for ballistic resistance.
The greatest variation in safety glasses, especially those designed for shooting, is the lens color. Some people claim that yellow lenses improve your ability to see targets and, thus, increases your shooting accuracy. The yellow color turns white to yellow, which could create more contrast in your field of view. Ballistic glasses that use a grey—or sunglass color—lens have become popular for people who primarily shoot outside because they lower strain on your eyes. Clear lenses are also sold. At the end of the day, what color lens you choose depends on where you will be using the glasses and what makes sense for you. Safety glasses with interchangeable colored lenses are now available for purchase from companies like Champion.
How to choose safety glasses
At the very least, the eye protection you choose should be ANSI Z87.1 certified. Look for ANSI Z87.1 on the box, to be certain your eye-wear has been tested following ANSI’s stringent guidelines. The one disadvantage of the ANSI certification is that it does not test eye-wear specifically for shooting. Instead, they test for the best “protection needed for the specific hazards encountered in the workplace. The most common hazards include:
Splashes and droplets
Small dust particles”
Here’s a nice pair of full magnifying safety glasses
In addition to buying glasses rated by ANSI, you want to make sure that your glasses are specifically designed to protect eyes while shooting a firearm and if needed prescription safety glasses can be custom made. Ballistic glasses will wrap around all sides of your face so that nothing gets between the glasses and your face. The lenses are much less likely to shatter in ballistic glasses because it is made of harder, more durable material.
How to Use
On your head, any time you have the potential to get something in your eye. You may need to use goggles over your normal glasses. Occasionally you may want to change lenses out if you have bought a model that has interchangeable lenses.
Again, comfort. Always pick glasses that fit your head snugly and comfortably.
You will also likely want a strap to help hold the glasses on your head. Especially if you are running or moving quickly, the strap will make it so that you don’t lose your glasses somewhere in the brush.
Hand Protection, shooting gloves
You may be wondering why you might need hand protection from guns. However, hand injuries are more common than you think. Discharge or recoil from your shot could hit and cut your hand. Also depending on where you are shooting, you may need the gloves to protect your hands from brush or sticks, or cold weather.
When you begin your hunt for the best gloves made for firearm use, you should keep in mind that there are two styles on the market: tactical and shooting.
Shooting gloves offer less protection for your hands than tactical gloves. But they are thinner, which gives you more dexterity for shooting. Safety gloves can be used with many different types of firearms at the shooting range or anywhere your practicing.
Tactical gloves come in many different types. Each of these types of tactical gloves offers different features depending on your needs. Such features include fire-resistant fabric, cut-resistant fabric, hard-knuckles, soft-knuckles, cold weather rated, and touchscreen fingers.
How to choose
To choose the right glove, you need to consider your type of gun, the climate you will be shooting in, and the function you need. As mentioned above, firearm gloves today come in many different types.
If you need a place to start, here are some Magpul technical gloves with excellent grip,
How to Use
To receive the full benefit from your gloves, you need to wear them every time you shoot your gun. It may seem silly, but your gloves could save you from a nasty hand injury.
If you take nothing else away from this article, remember that you need to buy gun accessories that are comfortable. If the product isn’t comfortable for you, you won’t wear it. So, try on various types, sizes, and materials of gloves before you buy. If you are shooting in different environments—at the range, hunting, etc.—you may need multiple gloves for each specific circumstance.
Other Shooting Gear You May Need
In all, if you get a good and reliable set of ear, eye, and hand protection, you should be ready to go shooting. Yet, there are a few items that you may want that will make your shooting experience more comfortable.
If you are shooting in a prone position often, you may want to purchase some knee or elbow pads. Most people shoot standing up, so this will probably not apply to you unless you are doing competition shooting. In that case, you will be on your stomach, hands, and knees often, and will need the extra padding to save your elbows and knees from cuts, scrapes, and bruises.
Now that you have all of this gear, how are you going to carry it around? The more gear you amass, the greater your need for a gear bag. Any duffle-type bag will work. But, bags designed specifically for gun gear are also on the market—these are typically called range bags. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Check out below and search Amazon for a better idea of the type of range bags that are available.