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Rod, Gun & Game: Shortage of ammo prevalent

SAFE HUNTING — National Shooting Sports Foundation leader Glenn Sapir provides words of wisdom and safe hunting rules to his daughter. They both share concerns for hunting and target ammunition supplies in USA.
Sanctioned recreational firearm shooting programs across Western New York are feeling the pinch for the shortage of ammunition in the local supply chain. Sportsmen everywhere enter supply stores and usually head right for the ammo racks to check if their favorite loads are in stock.

When New York, Colorado, Maryland and Connecticut all passed controversial tougher gun laws following the tragic Newtown shootings last year, lawful firearm owners worried that ammunition sales would be abruptly curtailed. As stiffer gun control laws evolved, sporting goods stores and ammunition sale depots reported excessive hoarding became commonplace.

Recreational shooters became fearful that they would not be able to resupply their favorite ammo and it didn’t take long for ammunition shelves all over the country to become dust collectors. Supply and demand effects soon reflected panic buying behavior and outrageous bullet and ammo pricing followed at gun counters, soon becoming the norm all across the country. Among the most sought after ammo is the once inexpensive .22 caliber. Two years ago, a box of 50 long rifle bullets would cost about $3, today it is hard to find the same for under $15.

It’s also called “plinking ammo,” because newcomers to the shooting range usually take their first shots using a .22 caliber rifle and metal soup can target safely placed with an appropriate backstop. It’s easy to note when the shooter has hit the target by the plinking sound made as the small caliber bullet hits the can — instant feedback.

During a recent field trip to the Detroit area, I found a Bass Pro Shop store, a Cabela’s store, three Gander Mountain stores and several Dick’s Sporting Goods stores were all nearby. Calling ahead to ask on inventory availability for .22 caliber ammo, I quickly discovered that the stores were all in the same predicament — short supply.

On Tuesday’s and Thursdays, Bass Pro reported they receive a .22 caliber ammo shipment of limited supply, some in 500 count tins, but also reported that the entire shipment is gone in less than an hour or two.Cabela’s reported that shipments came in on Thursdays only, but that the supply would be sold out in less than an hour. Gander Mountain reported shipments went on sales each Monday morning and the same immediate sales resulted followed by the same supply issues. Dick’s did not report a regular delivery day rule, but simply that “we get it in and it sells in minutes.”

I also checked every Gander Mountain and Dick’s between Detroit and Buffalo by phone for any supply of .22 caliber ammo, but none of these stores had stock. Ammunition suppliers say that they are catching up with record demand and sales of their ammo. To battle the shortages, such ammo manufacturers are ATK, Hornady, CCI and others have increased production, but cannot meet the demand.

Shooters that simply have grown up enjoying safe shooting for recreation, part of a program that is sponsored by the U.S. government, the Civilian Marksmanship Patrol (CMP), intended to keep our unmilitary militia in some form of training, is also jeopardized with ammunition supply issues. The federal law that established the CMP makes firearms safety one of its highest priorities. This law specifically states that a primary function of the CMP is “to instruct citizens of the United States in marksmanship; (and) to promote practice and safety in the use of firearms.” To fulfill this responsibility, the CMP produces a variety of safety materials. Visit www.odcmp.com/Comm/Publications.htm.

Target shooting established its record as one of the safest of all sports because everyone in it must learn and follow basic safety rules. There are several thousand junior shooting clubs — JROTC unit rifle teams, 4-H Shooting Sports clubs, Boy Scout troops and Venturing crews, youth camps and junior shooting organizations, as well as local WNY adult organizations, that practice and compete shooting activities.

These programs have more than 100,000 participants in the United States. These youth and adult marksmanship activities have compiled an outstanding safety record where gun-related accidents are extremely rare. Rifle marksmanship activities are indeed among the safest of all youth sports. Target shooting is a sport of control and discipline in which participants, instructors, coaches and range officers are expected to know and apply the sport’s safety rules at all times.

Locally, the CMP program is open to any U.S. citizen, and East Aurora Fish & Game, located on Luther Road in East Aurora, conducts a CMP program on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month starting 6 p.m. Club membership is not required.

Participants learn range safety, basic range commands, the proper use and adjustment of iron sights, breathing and trigger control, the use and adjustment of a shooting sling from the standing, sitting and prone positions, basic care and maintenance of the M-1 Garand rifle. The course also serves as an introduction to NRA High-power Rifle Competition.

The club provides M-1 Garand rifles and ammunition, if needed. For youth shooters and the ladies, M-1 carbines and the limited number of AR-15 rifles are available. Shooters may also provide their own U.S. type service rifle and ammunition. Participants must provide their own hearing and eye protection. A long sleeve shirt and an old towel or blanket to protect your elbows is also suggested. Shooters under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information, call 652-2256.

Outdoors Calendar

- Aug. 30: NYS Hunter Safety Training, Elma Conservation, 600 Creek Rd., pick up materials 7-8pm

- Aug. 31: NYS Archery Training, Allied Sportsmen, 12847 Clinton St., Marilla, Home Study, 7am-4pm, call 474-0460 6-9 pm.

- Sept. 5: Archery Shoot, West Falls Conservation Society, 15 targets, 4pm start, unlimited shooting, open to public, call Mike at 655-5030.

- Sept. 8: WNY Environmental Federation Meeting, 1pm, Hoak’s Restaurant, S4100 Lakeshore Rd., Hamburg

- Sept. 10: 3D Archery Shoot, Allied Sportsmen Club, 12846 Clinton St., Marilla, 5:30pm, visit alliedsportsmen.com.

- Sept. 11: 3D Archery Shoot, Evans Rod & Gun, Cain Rd., 4pm start, call 549-0333.

- Sept. 11: 3D Archery Shoot, East Aurora Fish & Game, 1016 Luther Rd., East Aurora, 5pm start, unlimited shooting, call Nadine at 982-7069.

- Sept. 7/14: NYS Hunter Safety Training, Southtowns Walleye Assoc., 5895 Southwestern Blvd., 8am-4pm Sept. 7, 9am-4pm Sept. 14, call 627-0147.

E-mail outdoors news to Forrest Fisher 10 days in advance at nugdor@yahoo.com.
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