Hearing protection is a must for anyone who owns firearms and want to get proficient with his firearms.
When I did my first Basic Handgun course, I had purchased a pair of cheap ear plugs from Walmart. The ear plugs were Winchester branded and rated for about 26dB. They were quickly put to the test as I had someone with a .45 to my left and a .40 to my right (both persons were about 3 feet away from me on each side). With the earplugs, my ears were ringing at the end of the class.
It was not a pleasant experience as my ears were still uncomfortable the following day. One of my friends who is into firearms suggested I wear the ear plugs AND over the ear hearing protection. I normally would have followed his advice, but since I wear prescription glasses, the over the ear protection can quickly become uncomfortable (with the ear muff pressing the side of my glasses onto the side of my head).
On one of the handgun forums I follow, more than a few people recommended SensGard hearing protection products. After doing some research on SensGard, I decided to try out their latest offering, the SensGard SG-31 which I purchased online.
At first glance, they don't look like they would be all that effective - there are no fancy electronics involved, they are very lightweight (unlike some over the ear type muffs), and they are made of plastic with just some foam pieces at the end; however, looks are definitely deceiving!
At my Basic Handgun 2 class, I again had someone with a .45 to my left and a .40 to my right (both were 3 feet away from me on each side). At the end of 3 hours and 200 rounds, I had no ringing in the ears. The SensGard muted the firing sounds, but I could still hear when the instructor yelled out directions or when I chatted with the other students.
Before I used the SensGard, I had my doubts. But after using them in class, I'm glad I got them. Not having the ringing in the ears was worth the price.