Before taking up Clay Shooting – I spent 20 years working in nightclubs, and I wore earplugs for most of those years – always wanting to make sure that I protected my precious hearing. Since taking up shooting I’ve tried a number of different options for protecting my ears, all have been pretty good at protecting the hearing, but none have been particularly comfortable for me.
After doing some research and getting some recommendations – I decided to try getting some custom fit earplugs made.
Emtec are based in Shropshire – and their range of hearing protection includes the Noisebreaker custom plugs which are suitable for shooters, as well as for industrial purposes. Their custom moulded plugs house a noise attenuation filter – which dampens all the sound going into the ear – but attenuates more in the mid range. There are no batteries in these plugs, and no moving parts – so these felt like a good solution for me.
Within a week – I was sitting with Adam Davison from Emtec (The Emtec team will arrange to come to your club or shooting ground – or factory for the industrial customer). He explained how Noisebreakers work and walked me through the simple process of taking the moulds.
The mould taking process is easy, after a quick check for problems in the ear canal – a small cotton wool wad is placed just inside. It’s attached to a very fine cotton strand so there is no chance of losing it. Then some medical grade putty is squeezed into your ear – which is odd rather than uncomfortable. After a few minutes to set and harden – the whole mass is removed (along with the cotton wool wad) and popped into a labelled bag for handling at the Emtec laboratory.
A couple of weeks later – my ear plugs arrived. Packaged in a handy hard case, with a small leaflet on how to fit and clean the plugs. My own personalised & customised set of earplugs. The guys at Emtec keep hold of your moulds, and log your name and details on their systems in case you ever need to get a replacement. I opted for flourescent green (to suit my colour blind eyes if I drop them at a shoot) – but there are a range of colours to suit.
So – what are they like to use?
I’ve used them for a couple of weeks now – once at a 100 bird registered shoot, and then again this weekend where I shot two 50 bird rounds back to back – so they’ve had 3 or 4 hours consecutive use in real-life competition. The hearing protection is absolutely fantastic – but most importantly, they are super comfortable. From the moment of rotating them into my ear, they sit perfectly still without any slipping or movement. As they sit inside the ear, they do not interfere with gun mount at all. You can have clear conversations at normal levels – and you don’t have that ‘sealed in’ feeling that you get with some tight fitting earplugs.
And so – the results – well, I’ve put 10 points on my average scores over the last couple of weeks, since using Noisebreakers. I’m not saying that improvement is all down to the new earplugs, but certainly I feel a lot more comfortable out on the shooting ground. The Noisebreakers site snugly and securely in my ears and the sound is suppressed that it almost eliminates the chance of flinching against the noise.
Noisebreakers can be modified with a thin cord to keep them attached to each other – handy if you are going to be removing the plugs a lot (maybe in a coaching environment), and they also do a model with earbuds built into them – which I imagine will be the most comfortable pair of MP3 player earplugs you will ever get – those are going on my christmas list right now!
Emtec Noisebreakers are an excellent addition to any shooters kitbag – RRP is £75 + VAT – which is a good value alternative to expensive electronic ear defenders. A pair of Noisebreakers will pay for themselves inside a year if you are currently using foam defenders each time you go shooting – and they’ll protect your ears much better in the long run.