Well, we are there again. For those of you who were shooters in 2013, you may recall the great run on guns, and the great ammo drought of 2013. The ammunition market did not come back strong for a couple of years. We are there again, perhaps worse. The reality is, if you can get ammo, you will be paying two or three times as much for it as you would have at the start of the year. I regret not buying far more when it was cheap, and a lot of shooters are in worse shape than I am concerning ammunition on hand. Also of concern for many of us is limited range access due to state policy or simply our personal desire to avoid being around other people. So, how do we continue training when we face such circumstances? How do we gain, or at least maintain, our skill when we are going to be doing far less live fire? Well, I have three suggestions:
1 – Dry Fire is Key
If you have not done much dry fire in the past, you now need to embrace it if you want to maintain and build skill with a firearm. If you have always done dry fire, simply do a lot more now. The reality is, we can maintain and improve skill in the most important elements of self-defense shooting, namely, a fast and consistent draw to a consistent first-round hit. Live fire is essential for truly verifying your technique and for building recoil control and shot-anticipation resistance; those skills will absolutely suffer without regular live fire. But, a fast draw to first hit, and all gun handling skills such as clearing malfunctions and reloading can be maintained and improved through dry fire alone.
2 – Train in the Other Important Self-Defense Skills
My friends who are firearms trainers may not appreciate this suggestion, and that is understandable, but here it is: If you are a new shooter/gun owner, of which there are many now, I suggest that you eat the contemporary exorbitant cost of ammunition and make it to at least one good defensive pistol class. You need that foundation. However, if you are a person who has done such training, I am going to suggest a different route for this year: focus on other training during the ammo drought.
I have done a lot of firearms training, but I was hoping to attend at least one or two shooting classes this year, as I usually do. However, rather than focusing on doing more training in shooting, I will spend the resources elsewhere during the ammo drought, and advise you to do the same if you already have a solid foundation in shooting.
Consider, have you taken a knife class? Have you taken medical TCCC training? Have you trained in combatives? How about a class in using OC Spray? How about a class on self-defense law? None of these classes requires ammunition, and if you already have some professional shooting instruction under your belt, all of these suggestions are actually more important for you.
Also, if you want to do gun stuff, consider getting into a force-on-force class. A school that provides the sim guns and sim ammo removes the demand for ammunition for yourself and such force-on-force training is the most productive thing you can do for skills development anyway. If you have taken shooting classes, but you have never taken a force-on-force class, you are ripping yourself off. This would be a great option at this time of limited ammo.
3 – Get Fit, or Fitter
Physical fitness is the foundation of everything you pursue, and it is absolutely the core of your ability to defend yourself. Get in shape. I know I am hardly the first firearms instructor or perpetual student to make this comment, but the percentage of shooters who attend firearms training and are morbidly obese is staggering. Don’t have access to the gym? No problem. Spend a bit of your usual annual ammo money and buy a stationary bike or treadmill, some resistance bands, a set of dumbbells, and a B.O.B bag. You can get damn fit with this equipment, and all you need is a corner of your home to do it in.
So, there is my advice. If you can’t find as much ammunition as you usually burn, don’t fret, but focus on the other equally important skills and do your best to maintain and improve shooting through dry fire despite the reduced live fire in your life.