Practice that which is difficult, such as single handed shooting.
Photo credit: Paul Markel
Are we in an ammo shortage or a customer surplus?
Photo credit: Paul Markel
Go to the range with a plan, master the fundamentals.
Photo credit: Paul Markel
Is there an ammo shortage or a customer surplus? If you consider the current situation rationally without the bias of emotion or paranoia, a shortage of any product historically takes place after some unforeseen event. For instance, a long and brutal winter or a late spring frost can damage or completely destroy fragile crops like oranges, strawberries, etc. Every few years the price of orange juice will spike dramatically because a late frost killed a certain percentage of the crop. That leads to an “orange” shortage and a corresponding increase in price.
A Midwest drought can lead to less hay production or wheat or corn, take your pick. Less available product translates to higher prices. You either pay those prices or you buy less of that product. It’s simple economics.
As these words are penned we are experiencing the largest customer surplus in the ammunition market in my lifetime. More people are buying more ammunition than at any time in recorded history. It’s not that the ammunition manufacturers slowed or stopped production; they are operating at maximum capacity. There is a customer surplus, just as you will see before a hurricane makes landfall or when a major snow storm is predicted. Well, there is a storm brewing in this nation and gun owners who haven’t purchased a box of ammo in a year ran out and bought a thousand rounds last month.
Police Training Ammunition?
Last week I saw a piece online that explained how even law enforcement officers are feeling the crunch. The article bemoaned the fact the police officers were not able to find the ammunition they needed to train and practice. I laughed out loud. Unless things have changed dramatically in the last year or two without my notice, since when is having enough practice ammunition become a big concern?
A good friend of mine was the chief firearms instructor for a mid-sized sheriff’s department. He once related that his agency stocked fifty rounds of training ammo per deputy per month in addition to ammunition needed for mandatory qualifications. All a deputy had to do was walk to the armory and ask for ammo and they’d give it to them. My friend related that perhaps two or three deputies of the nearly one hundred full time officers would check out the free training ammo each month.
As you are actually reading this piece I can safely assume that you are indeed part of the choir and are at least mildly concerned with a shortage of ammunition with which to practice. Proficiency with a firearm requires regular practice, it is a perishable skill.
You should already have a solid dry-fire or dry-practice regime programmed into your routine. If you don’t have a current routine, seek out a qualified instructor and have them run you through some dry-practice drills. Keep in mind, simply snapping a trigger is not dry-fire training.
One Box Workout™
Dry-practice is extremely beneficial from the aspect of body mechanics and training neuromuscular pathways. However, as every fifteen year old boy knows, there is no actual substitute for the real thing.
When you hit the range to practice, you should first have a plan. If your plan is simply to shoot up a hundred rounds, that’s little more than noise-generation and empty brass creation. A couple of years ago I developed a simple base-line training or practice drill that I call the One Box Workout™.
By one box, I am referring to a single 50 round box of designated training ammo. The workout includes five separate stages with a ten round count per stage. If by chance the handgun you are using holds less than ten shots simply load it to capacity.
With your target set at five to seven yards, begin with a two-hand hold and slow-fire your first magazine or cylinder. Take your time and focus on a smooth deliberate trigger press and clear front sight.
Reload your handgun and repeat the first drill only this time fire all rounds using your strong/dominant hand only. Again, take your time and focus on solid marksmanship fundamentals. One of the keys to success when shooting single-handed is to ensure your wrist is locked.
Continue your practice session. Reload your handgun and fire the next exercise using your support/off hand only. Again, focus intently on your front sight and be sure your trigger press is smooth and deliberate. Lock your wrist so the gun doesn’t flail about.
We now move on to holster drills. With your handgun loaded and holstered, smoothly draw and engage the target. Fire two shots and then slowly and hesitantly re-holster. Never race back to the holster, GO SLOW. Repeat the drill until the gun is empty.
Download your magazines to three or four rounds. Begin with a partially loaded handgun. Engage the target until the gun runs dry and reload. Repeat the drill two or three more times. If you are using a revolver this is more difficult but can be accomplished with speed-loaders or quick-strips.
This last exercise should take to right around fifty rounds. If you have ammunition remaining, be honest with yourself and repeat whichever drill was the most difficult. We don’t improve by doing what we’ve mastered. We improve by working on the areas that are difficult. Try the One Box Workout™ the next time you’re at the practice range. It’s a great way to make the most of your available time and ammunition.
About the Author
Paul Markel has been a firearms industry writer for twenty years and is the author of the new book “Student of the Gun; A beginner once, a student for life.” Paul hosts and produces “Student of the Gun” a show dedicated to education, experience, and enjoyment of firearms. Episodes of SOTG can be viewed by simply going to www.studentofthegun.comand clicking the “play” icon.