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Thread: Hearing Protection for a Police/Military Firearms Instructor

  1. #1
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    Hearing Protection for a Police/Military Firearms Instructor

    What hearing protection are full time LE Instructors using?

    The subject has come up where I work and there is an opinion that models like the Comtac's and Sordins are intended for use only in combat/tactical settings and not for the extended environment of a shooting range, especially a police range. It has also been suggested that the comfortable gel inserts contribute to the problem and should be replaced with foam rubber.

    I personally have examples of both and have no issues, but am curious how other instructors think about this. I am not referring to part time instructor or individual officer use, but the full time Instructor.

  2. #2
    Is the argument that the ComTacs and Sordins do not provide proper levels of hearing protection for extended use?

    FWIW, the ComTac VIs have an "Ear Plug Mode" that boosts the volume of the headset to help overcome attenuation of any ear plugs. Not as clean as the Ops Core AMPS NFMI ear plugs, which I think is the way to go for doubling up.

  3. #3
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    My go to for the last 10-15 years has been Sordin/TCI and Peltors which arguably are still a solid choice. Gel seals help alot (strongly recommended) but have a limited lifespan and need to be taken care of a bit better than the factory rubber seals.

    I think there are some things to say for in the ear units. We recently obtained some 1033 program Invisio X50s in the ear systems from big daddy gov (free-might be worth a shot if your agency participates in 1033) and have T&Ed their newer units. Although the interchangeability with our issue com systems was a no go and we didn't like the newer units because of voice transmission issues, I have started using the base unit on the range as an in the ear active earpro. It was very nice to not have hot sweaty cups over my ears, loud noises were mitigated better and my cheek welds on my long guns didn't break the seals all the while providing excellent bi-aural hearing. I've since used OTTO and 3Ms kits and enjoy them, especially in hot weather.

    It's really comes down to personal preference. Ear muff style is quicker to don and take off but gets uncomfortable and hot, in-the-ear is more comfortable and generally provides slightly better hearing protection. Most of the trainers I work with and around prefer in the ear(OTTO/3M) but I'm still on the fence.

    And yea the new Ops Core earpro have NFMI plugs (no batteries) where you can double up your ear pro while still allowing amplified hearing. It's like $300 more and if you lose the little ear plugs its like $200 to replace them. We were considering that but I generally will double up with foamies and turn my volume all the up when doing shit like flashbangs/shotgun breaching/demo or shooting sniper rifles from confined spaces and it works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Default.mp3 View Post
    Is the argument that the ComTacs and Sordins do not provide proper levels of hearing protection for extended use?

    FWIW, the ComTac VIs have an "Ear Plug Mode" that boosts the volume of the headset to help overcome attenuation of any ear plugs. Not as clean as the Ops Core AMPS NFMI ear plugs, which I think is the way to go for doubling up.
    I was not on the conversation, it was relayed to me, but yes, the argument is that these types are for combat use only and not for an extended periods of exposure. The sum of what was said is that Compacs use should be halted because they are only for combat and should immediately switch out to foam earpieces if use is continued.

    I think those two brands and models are some of the most widely used by professional instructors so I found this suggestion a bit odd. I have always doubled up with plugs during rifle and indoor use, but not during normal range time. I have examples of both and plan to continue to use them, was just trying to see if other full time instructors are doing things differently.

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    Quote Originally Posted by secondstoryguy View Post
    My go to for the last 10-15 years has been Sordin/TCI and Peltors which arguably are still a solid choice. Gel seals help alot (strongly recommended) but have a limited lifespan and need to be taken care of a bit better than the factory rubber seals. ....
    The implication was that the gel cushions make the issue worse and should be swapped out for foam, something I also found odd. The gel has always seemed to seal better for me, not just be more comfortable.

  6. #6
    I'm a Peltor guy myself, but I'd call BS on the info you've received.

    Definitely opt for the gel ear cup IF they will be replaced as needed.

    I'd would also double-up on a multi-shooter firing line regardless of whether pistol or rifle. I began the practice too late - I think.

    A boring story: I was in a reserve airborne unit for about 12 years. At the same time I was beginning my career as a full-time Academy Instructor with one of my main duties being firearms instruction. I was zealous about using foamies while near, or in aircraft and equally zealous about wearing muffs while instructing.

    Everything went along fine until I failed hearing on a physical. This happened shortly after we rebuilt our range putting in an overhead canopy and larger, solid barricades. The rebuild happened at nearly the same time that a curriculum revision required us to go from dividing practical training exercises into three groups versus the two group schedule we had been using. The new schedule ended up doubling my range time.

    When I failed hearing on the flight physical I went to an audiologist and got a hearing test, this established a baseline for me to observe. At that time I was close to needing aides in both ears due to high frequency loss, but opted not to after test driving the aides them available.

    From that point forward I had an annual test and my high frequency hearing dropped like a rock. Two years later I had a hearing aide for my right ear, and a year later one for my left.

    I am convinced that the effects of each shot fired were increased as the sound waves bounced of the canopy and the barricades. If you paid attention you could feel the pressure waves.

    So, if I'm correct in my belief, double up, especially if you are working in any kind of environment where sound waves have a chance to reflect back.

    Properly fitted foam plugs generally will attenuate from 26-33db. The range for headsets is 16-31db. Combined the attenuation is in the 34-37db range.

    Three to seven decibels may not sound like much, but in terms of pressure a 10db rise is equal to a doubling of pressure. In other words, 40db is twice the pressure of 30db. Every bit helps. At least as I understand it.
    Adding nothing to the conversation since 2015....

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Lehr View Post
    Three to seven decibels may not sound like much, but in terms of pressure a 10db rise is equal to a doubling of pressure. In other words, 40db is twice the pressure of 30db. Every bit helps. At least as I understand it.
    This is incorrect, it's actually worse than you think. The rule of thumb is typically that a 6 dB increase corresponds to a doubling of the power of the signal.

    For example:
    • 130 dB corresponds to ~63 Pa
    • 133 dB corresponds to ~89 Pa
    • 136 dB corresponds to ~126 Pa
    • 140 dB corresponds to ~200 Pa


    The other thing to remember is that the NRR rating does not directly subtract from the volume of the sound; e.g., the ear will receive ~143 dB when exposed to a 160 dB sound while wearing a 41 dB NRR ear pro (the OSHA calculation takes into account the imperfection of the sealing and all that, so the equation is volume at ear in dB = volume at source in dB - (NRR rating - 7) / 2 ).

  8. #8
    Site Supporter Erick Gelhaus's Avatar
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    I've never been a "full time" instructor, but I have spent a significant amount of time with Peltors and Sordins on ranges with .22s to .50BMG being fired in Mil, L/E, and commercial firearms training; although most was 9mm/.45, 12ga, and 5.56.

    Both manf's make solid products that have worked for years for me. The gel pads work quite well, just replace them as needed.

  9. #9
    10.3" Master Race TGS's Avatar
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    @Ethang

    The lower profile sets meant to be worn in an operational setting (ex: under a helmet) usually have lower db reduction than the big thick sets.

    The former is fine for extended use if you double up earplugs, but definitely shouldn't be used in an enclosed range space for extended periods without doubling up with plugs. With my Peltors, I pretty much always double up with plugs whenever I'm at an indoor range or outdoor baffled range; don't quote me, but I think they're 23db reduction. The MSA Sordins I used before were 18db reduction, If I recall correctly. I need somewhere around 30db reduction to feel comfortable on an indoor range without doubling up ear protection with plugs.
    '
    Gel cups are excellent, don't know where that bit is coming out from. If anything they help attenuate noise better than foam since they seal better around the temple "arms"(?) of eye protection. I find them much more comfortable though, so even if the science says they reduce noise attenuation I would still wear them since I'm doubling up with earplugs anyways.
    "Are you ready? Okay. Let's roll."- Last words of Todd Beamer

  10. #10
    Member jd950's Avatar
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    Not a full time instructor so my earpro receive moderate use but FWIW, I have found that if stored so the gel cups are not under pressure or being deformed, they last much longer. At about $50 a pair, I try to extend their life when I can.

    I also agree they are a worthy upgrade over the standard cups and improve performance. I typically use Sordin or comtacs. I have been enjoying OTTO in-ears for extended outdoor use, especially on hot days.

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