Importance of Eyes and Ears

By Tim Trickett, Adjunct Instructor, SIG SAUER Academy

Importance of Eyes and Ears

EXETER, NH –-( Today we want to talk about two of the safety aspects of shooting gear; proper eye and hearing protection, or as we call them on the range, “eyes and ears.”

Let’s start with eye protection. There are dozens of types of eye protection on the market, including standard safety glasses, wraparound styles, and various tinted lens models.

The key to any good piece of equipment is that it meets and exceeds the requirements you need (and look cool). Lenses should be constructed of high-impact polycarbonate and meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z-87 specification.

Shooting glasses that meet this specification will have “ANSI Z-87” written on the glasses somewhere. They should also fit properly and be comfortable so as to not distract you while shooting. There is nothing worse than adjusting glasses while you are shooting. If you wear prescription glasses already, a set of clear side shields will keep errant brass out of the way for added protection.

Keep them clean, scratch-free, and stored in the carrying case when not in use. A quality pair of shooting glasses will last years if you take good care of them. Some of our favorite brands include Revision, Oakley, and ESS.

As for hearing protection, there are several types including standard foam single-use plugs, custom fit pre-formed or molded plugs, standard earmuffs, and high-quality electronic/noise-canceling earmuffs.

As with glasses, check the fit of your ear protection to ensure it is comfortable. Most firearms create a sound in the 120 -160 decibel (DB) level. Foam earplugs will protect your hearing as will most standard earmuffs, but check the DB rating on the product before use to ensure that it will effectively cancel out for noise levels. If I am out shooting a larger caliber for an extended period of time, I typically double up and use foam plugs and earmuffs. Sometimes it helps to double up on indoor ranges as well because of the echo.

If you are out on the range or in a class with an instructor, the electronic muffs are tough to beat because you can hear instructions clearly without removing your ear protection. Most of the electronic muffs use software to block out noise over 80 DB. When they detect this sound, they shut down to protect the wearer from the loud noise like normal earmuffs.

Many of them also feature a volume setting to amplify normal sounds such as voices in between shots, which makes hearing instructions much better. Some of our favorite brands include Peltor, MSA, and Pro Ears.

Keep in mind, when shooting long guns to check both for fit and comfort down behind your rifle. Also, many of the compact foldable “tactical” earmuffs don’t offer as much protection as others.

About SIG SAUER, Inc.

SIG SAUER, Inc. is the largest member of a worldwide business group of firearms manufacturers that includes J.P. Sauer & Sohn and Blaser GmbH in Germany and Swiss Arms AG in Switzerland. This global network of companies gives SIG SAUER a world-class firearms knowledge base, unparalleled design expertise, and extensive manufacturing capacity, enabling the company to respond quickly and effectively to changing market conditions and the needs of its military, law enforcement, and commercial markets worldwide. SIG SAUER is an ISO 9001: 2000 certified company with over 370 employees. For more information on SIG SAUER or any of its products, or the SIG SAUER Academy, log on to


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Ricardo Pacetti

I have been shooting for years and recently had cataract surgery both eyes and to test the effect of my new lenses I went to the range to shoot my Radom 9mm. accuracy was great until the last shell. Instead of ejecting to the right it came straight back and hit me in my right eye. Eye Doc says no damage and yeah I know the rules but sometimes the brain writes checks it can't cash.

John Toups

I use "Big Ears" custom molded silicone ear plugs. They sit well within the ear and do an excellent job attenuating the high-spectrum 'crack' while allowing the user to still hear verbal instructions. I came to use them via my motorcycling experience and can usually find a booth at any motorcycle event..but it would be nice to find a franchisee that would set up shop at gun shows..Also, due to the way the plugs fit, use of additional muffs or NC muffs will not dislodge the plugs like some foam plugs are prone to.

Ted Peck

There are so many choices on the market (and some are not good quality). I only have 2 ears and eyes and I want to protect them as best that I can.

Excellent article. Thanks for sharing it.

Allen Robinson

I have a pair of Pro Ears Terminator Gold electronic ear protectors that I luckily WON free in an online forum giveaway! They sell for over $250 new.

I found them to be very useful and beneficial when target shooting outdoors among friends, where conversation between rounds can easily be maintained.

As for eyewear, I typically just use a pair of plastic, standard clear lens glasses from the hardware store or my daily polarized designer sunglasses.

I may look for an eye protection upgrade soon for outdoor shooting.

Great article!