I was recently introduced to an intriguing new product: AlphaShield electronic earplugs from TETRA Hearing. I was immediately interested in the technology, especially since the company was started by two doctors who have a combined 50 years of experience in the hearing-care industry (and 80 years combined experience hunting!). Even though the AlphaShields were designed specifically with hunters in mind, I wanted to give this hearing protection a try in my world of training, instructing and competition shooting.

Getting Started With TETRA’s Hearing Protection

To get started, I took a simple, online hearing test, so the folks at TETRA could match up the devices with my current hearing profile. This is an impressive feature for those who are hunting specific types of game … or who may have some hearing loss. Luckily, both of my ears were pretty cooperative. (No major issues to speak of, thankfully.)

When I first popped in the universal-fit earplugs, it took a few moments to get accustomed to the fit and to the sound level adjustments (normal, boost, magnum and ClearComm for voice communication). But pretty soon, I forgot they were even there! Almost like traditional hearing aids, the devices are lightweight, comfortable and very effective. Even though I didn’t do much shooting that first time out, I kept the AlphaShields on for six hours during all normal activities and conversations.

It was actually really odd to take them off at the end of the day. Suddenly the depth and richness of sounds — the birds chirping in the nearby trees, the leaves rustling on the pavement, the train whistling in the distance — were gone. In just one day, I could definitely understand how hunters and shooters (and even hikers, nature lovers and outdoors enthusiasts) would really benefit from and enjoy these innovative devices!

Testing and Training the Earplugs

My first official test of the TETRA earplugs was supposed to be at an outdoor range, teaching the USCCA’S Defensive Shooting Fundamentals instructor course. I ended up at an indoor range for the three-day class, so it was not the environment in which I’d planned. With this indoor setting, I did notice a few small annoyances. The devices picked up the humming noise and rush of air from the ventilation system whenever it was activated. As well, some of the echoing of gunshots bouncing off the hard surfaces were not fully blocked. While the shots themselves were muffled very well, I could hear some “directional” noise. (The range likely needs to add some soundproofing for their own benefit!)

On the good side, the batteries (standard hearing aid #10) lasted all three days. And most importantly, I was able to pick up on some of the sounds I listen for as an instructor. For instance, out of the five students, one had a firearm with an external safety. With the AlphaSheild, I could hear when the student engaged or disengaged this thumb safety on his handgun. This detail is very significant to the class because of the instructions for when this must occur safely. Thus, I was able to catch when the student wasn’t using the safety. And I was able to fix some issues that could have caused bigger problems if not addressed. I likely would not have been able to hear this small, seemingly insignificant noise with other hearing protection that I own. And that could have been a significant miss for proper instruction.

Testing and Competing with AlphaShield Hearing Protection

I have also been able to use the AlphaShield earplugs during shooting matches. The first was a local IDPA competition, and I loved the experience. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say there were any additional advantages or superpowers (like, perhaps, hearing the movement of the buzzer before it sounded!). But it was incredible to clearly hear everything I needed to — voices speaking, steel ringing, targets moving — and not be exposed to the loud blast of the gun firing. As well, not having to take the ear protection off throughout the stage briefings was very convenient!

Another competition where I sported the TETRA earplugs was a 3-gun buddy match with my husband. With multiple carbines, shotguns and handguns being used simultaneously, I had absolutely no issues with any bothersome sounds. I could still clearly hear my “buddy” as we communicated to advance safely through the stages together. So, there’s another big win for application in competition shooting. (And speaking of a win, Sean and I came in first place at that match!)

TETRA Ear Protection Is Still Going

Overall, I’ve been extremely pleased (and sometimes surprised!) with the effectiveness of the TETRA AlphaShield earplugs. Are they a bit pricey? From $699 (for a basic set) and higher (for custom and multi-pursuit designs), perhaps. But these revolutionary devices use some of the best technology available to help shooters safely protect and preserve their hearing by blocking out gunshots, while still clearly picking up sound cues from the environment and allowing for clear conversations. Think of it as having custom, hearing-care technology for all your safe shooting activities! That’s a worthwhile investment.


TETRA Hearing: TETRAHearing.com