Damage to hearing is cumulative, which is one reason many people — especially men who hunt, shoot and weren’t health-conscience in their younger years — begin having issues when they hit middle age.

I know. I’m one of them, and at age 52 now realize that stuff I did in my teens and 20s and 30s was pretty dumb. Shooting a lot without hearing protection. Not sticking the muzzle of my rifle all the way out of the wooden shooting box blind (that was a doozy). Standing within arm’s length of the two-story speaker bank for Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet and .38 Special (couldn’t hear in my left ear for three days, very stupid).

Back then, wearing ear plugs to a music concert or muffs while mowing the yard wasn’t manly or tough. Maybe at the shooting range, but anywhere else? Nah, I’m tough!

Nope. I was just stupid. You don’t need to call your retail customers stupid, of course. But you can reinforce the good things hearing protection can do for them when they’re at the range or hunting.

Walker’s XCEL Muffs

I’ve used Walker’s products ever since the late Bob Walker founded the company almost 30 years ago. The first was his Game Ear behind-the-ear system, and later his company — then known as Walker’s Game Ear — included muffs and other items. Walker died a few years ago and I miss him. He was a good ol’ dude.

Today, Walker’s is part of GSM Outdoors and continues to offer a wide range of products for hearing protection. The latest is the XCEL Series digital electronic muffs. They’re an upgrade of the popular, slim Razor muffs.

Walker’s new XCEL digital electronic muffs offer greater hearing protection along with four modes, Bluetooth and a new design for less weight on the user’s ears. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

Whatever muffs you use — and you should — from whatever company, make sure you’re wearing them regularly. Now, I’m the guy doing my yardwork with the string-trimmer, mower and blower in muffs. I can’t reverse what’s already damaged but I can maybe help prevent problems in the future.

Here’s the press release from Walker’s:

Walker’s is now shipping to dealers and distributors its new XCEL Series digital electronic muffs in the 100 and 500BT models, which have advanced hearing protection design and digital sound management.

The XCEL muffs take a fresh approach to form and ergonomics by relocating the user interface and microphones from the ear cups to a slim control panel integrated into the headband. This design offers egonomic and performance advantages. Relocating the electronics and battery compartment to the headband removes weight from the ears while optimizing overall balance for hours of shooting comfort. This relocation also provides more air space inside the cups to help give the XCEL an impressive 26 NRR sound reduction rating.

The new XCEL muffs offer serious shooters and hunters more than improved comfort. Expanded audio control options and sophisticated digital sound engineering courtesy of a ground-breaking digital chipset brings new technology to the hearing protection segment. The XCEL’s next-generation Sound-Activated Compression, courtesy of a new Variable Dynamic Sound Suppression system, automatically adjusts compression time based on noise level intensity and duration rather than using conventional “fixed-time” compression for sound events. This means a greater level of hearing protection regardless of the sound environment.

As for user-adjustable features, the XCEL muffs provide four distinct listening modes the shooter can select via soft-touch operation buttons located on the control panel:

— Universal, for general sound amplification
— Speech Clarity, for discriminating voices and enhancing verbal communication in a noisy shooting range environment
— High Frequency, tuned specifically to hear steel target impact at long distances
— Power Boost, amplifies sound across the range of volume

For user convenience, an integrated voice prompt announces each listening mode as the shooter scrolls through the menu, making sound management selection easy and eliminating the guesswork of knowing what mode you are in.

Another convenience feature is the programmable auto shut-off function, which goes a long way toward saving battery life and money. The XCEL also includes a selectable wind noise reduction feature to help suppress the roar of wind passing across the microphones.

The XCEL is offered in two models: the XCEL 100 and XCEL 500BT. The XCEL 500BT includes Bluetooth connectivity so you can stream audio from your mobile device, hear notification alerts, and take phone calls.

XCEL 100 features:

  • Advanced Digital Circuit
  • Active Dynamic Sound Suppression
  • Hi-Gain Omni-Directional Mics
  • Four listening modes
    • Universal
    • Speech Clarity Mode
    • Hi frequency
    • Power Boost
  • Wind Noise Reduction
  • Voice Mode Navigation
  • Auto shut off 2/4/6 hours
  • New ergonomic head band design
  • Rubber bumpers on lower cup
  • Low battery warning
  • Powered by 2 (AAA) batteries (included)
  • MSRP: $99.99

 

XCEL 500BT features:

  • Advanced Digital Circuit
  • Bluetooth Connectivity for use with mobile devices
  • Variable Dynamic Sound Suppression
  • Hi-Gain Omni-Directional Mics
  • Four listening modes
    • Universal
    • Speech Clarity Mode
    • Hi frequency
    • Power Boost
  • Voice Mode Navigation
  • Wind Noise Reduction
  • Auto shut off
  • New ergonomic head band design
  • Rubber bumpers on lower cup
  • Low battery warning
  • Powered by 2 (AAA) batteries (included)
  • MSRP: $149.99

For more information on Walker’s products, visit Walker’s.  Walker’s is a division of GSM Outdoors. Learn more about their brands at www.gsmoutdoors.com