Friday, September 5, 2014

Reflecting on ammo shortages


Optimistic voices are arising around the web to say the ammo drought seems to be easing. That's nice, if so, but the shortages of recent years have underscored a couple of points for those paying attention.

1. Keep an ammo reserve that you will not dip into for practice purposes unless and until you can get more cartridges to replace the ones you shoot. How many cartridges to keep on hand and what kind are up to you, but a gun without ammo is useless and your ammo stockpile should reflect that. There is a lot of variability in ideas about how much is enough. The proverbial one box every few seasons deer hunter is good to go if he has a few spare boxes. I refer to the chap who fires a few shots at the start of the season to be sure he is still sighted in, uses another shot or two to get his deer and is then done with shooting for the year. In contrast, a 'prepper' prone to entertain lurid future scenarios will want much more. I fall somewhere between the two in my own thinking.

2. Dry firing is excellent practice, except that it is a bit boring. What we old timers did during the ammo shortages was up our proportion of dry fire to live ammo practice while shopping around for 'deals' on ammo that did not make our blood boil much. Seriously: You can practice all the most important marksmanship skills without firing a shot. You need to shoot enough live ammo to confirm that you're doing it right, but no more than that.

I would suppose that recent shortages have encouraged a number of people, including the many new shooters among us, to think about notions like these, and thus set aside some ammo for a rainy day and learn how to get the most out of practicing with inert snap caps instead of live cartridges. That's all to the good, for they are important lessons, but I hope things at the ammo counter get back to normal soon. At the same time I wonder if they ever will.

The most recent round of shortages brought something I had never seen before: .22 LR all but disappeared from the stores for a while, where it used to be common and cheap. My habit for years before was to buy a 'brick' (10 boxes of 50) whenever I saw a marked down price. Stores would offer the stuff as a loss leader and I saw little reason not to take them up on it. I then put my purchase on a shelf at home along with the other bricks of .22. I figured I was saving money and I usually had plenty of .22 LR in reserve. I don't know if we will ever see days like that again.

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