f you’re like me, you’ve shot for quite a number of years and have almost certainly suffered some sort of hearing loss. In my younger years, before I began shooting shotguns on a regular basis, I shot quite a lot of rounds of rifle and pistol ammunition without the use of hearing protection. Added to the bombardment my eardrums suffered at an occasional rock concert, it’s no wonder I now have approximately a 30% loss of mid to higher–end tones. As the saying goes, “If I only knew then what I know now.”
What I know now is there are some technically advanced and highly efficient forms of hearing protection out there, devices that can prevent a significant amount of damage to your ears from loud and/or continuous higher–decibel sounds. One such device I would like to share with you is the Pro Fit electronic earplugs by Pro Ears Custom Products.
For many years, I have worn basic hearing protection when shooting — foam–type earplugs primarily and, more recently, the Sensgard hearing protection. For the most part, I have been satisfied with the performance of these devices; however, a few weeks ago I received a molding kit from Pro Ears that allows the user to self–mold a duplicate of their ear canals then send the molds to Pro Ears to have them formed into a set of their Pro Fit electronic earplugs. I decided to give it a try.
For the molding process, I enlisted the help of a professional, Rod Greenough of Ear Protection Services. After the molds were made, off they went to become high–tech electronic earplugs custom–fitted to my ears. They returned in a short while, and I immediately put them to work.
I used them during a weekend of shooting skeet, 5–stand, a couple shooting lessons and a visit to a large SCTP trapshoot in Lincoln, California. I had no previous experience with custom–fitted electronic hearing protection, but I was very pleased with how the Pro Fit Custom Ear Plugs worked.
The Pro Fit earplugs come in a hinged carrying case and are color–coded as to which ear they fit. Mine were blue for the right ear and red for the left. Each plug comes with a battery that is easy to install. Since they are custom–fitted, once they’re inserted in your ear(s), they stay in place firmly, even under the repetitive recoil of a 12–gauge shotgun.
Performance of the Pro Fit electronic earplugs was more than I expected. They cut the blast of my shotgun and that of my student’s to a very comfortable muted “thunk.” Pro Fit Custom Ear Plugs offer you four program selections — a small push–button on the plug lets you switch from one program to another. Program Number 1 is recommended for general everyday use. With your plugs set to Number 1, your hearing is just about normal and the internal circuitry shuts out loud, sudden sounds. Program Number 2 is suggested for crowds, restaurants and sporting events. When at the range that weekend, I tried Program 2 and found it noticeably more sensitive to ambient sounds; amplification was increased as well.
In Program 2, I could hear my student talking much more distinctly. Guns opening and latching shut were more noticeable, too. I could hear other shooters several stations over talking to one another. I tried Program 3 but found the amplification bothersome. It didn’t whine or buzz; it was just a case of TMI (too much information) coming into my head.
I never attempted Program 4, as I imagined I could have heard ants stomping by with that one. Program 4, by the way, is suggested for use in nature settings, like birdwatching, hunting or observing animals where acute sound pickup could be beneficial. Trust me, Program 4 would be the one for you in that sort of situation! Programs 2, 3 and 4 have the Compression set at 85 dB.
Loaded with all manner of high– tech features, Pro Fit Custom Ear Plugs are designed with Reliant Adaptive Feedback Cancelling, Improved Layered Noise Reduction, Eight–Channel Wide–Dynamic–Range Compression with Dynamic Contrast Detection and much more.
I am using my Pro Fit Custom Ear Plugs every time I shoot. They are comfortable to wear, small, lightweight and shut out loud sounds while letting me hear the sounds I want to hear at comfortable levels. MSRP for a pair of Pro Fit Custom Ear Plugs is around $1,500. A single ear plug will run about $800.
If you worry your current hearing protection isn’t giving you the most protection for your ears, you might just want to get a set of Pro Fit Custom Ear Plugs. I like mine, and I’m sure you’ll like yours.