Wednesday, August 22, 2007

SHOOTING ON A BUDGET


If you shoot with any sort of regularity, or read posts by people that do, you've probably noticed that the price of ammunition is rising.

I've read several reasons for this.

Some people say that it's due to the war, and the military's increasing needs for ammo is driving up the price. American law enforcement agencies are also placing larger orders for ammo, which of course plays into the laws of supply and demand. Others point out that raw materials such as brass and copper are in higher demand in other countries (such as China), which increases the costs of the metals worldwide. Other factors come into play too - the price of fuel affects everyone, from the producer to the shipper to the retailer.

There are several ways the average gun owner can deal with this problem, but simply complaining about it isn't one of them. So instead of just adding another post to the internet's archives about how much ammo costs annoy me, I thought I'd share a few of the things I do to keep the cost of my range trips down.

In no particular order:

SHOP WISELY
The most expensive place I've purchased ammo was from the range itself. A 50rd box of Blazer Brass 9mm sells for around $14. At Walmart, the same box sells for around $8. A 100rd box of Winchester WhiteBox is around $15. In other words, you can buy twice as much ammo for the same price by simply choosing where to purchase it.

Online vendors typically offer good prices, but be sure to add shipping costs into the overall price. Gunshows can also sometimes be a good source for cheaper ammunition - especially self-defense ammo.

In addition, I purchase more ammo than I need for one range trip. Usually I buy 500-1000rnds at the time. A local store you wont give you a multi-box discount, but you will save time and gas money by combining several store trips into one.

MAKE YOUR OWN TARGETS
Range targets are sold at a premium, usually going for .75 - $1 per target. It may not seem like much, but over a year you might end up spending $40-50 just on sheets of paper. There are a number websites out there with PDF targets you can download and print at home. Even better, print one target at home and make the rest on a copier (inkjet supplies are very expensive - copies can be made at Kinko's cheaply, or depending on your workplace - for free.) Buy just one B27 at the range and use tape to place your homemade target over the COM.

If you do a lot of bullseye shooting, you dont need a B27. Get some large index cards, and use an ink marker to make a small circle in the middle. Some shooters use paper plates as a cheap target. Whichever solution you use, try to limit the number of fullsized expensive targets you purchase.

DON'T WASTE AMMO
Every time you empty a magazine, you've basically thrown $2 down the range. I've seen casual shooters come into the range with a rental gun and 2-3 boxes of ammo... they finish in an amazing amount of time. One moment they're loading the first mag, and 10 minutes later they've emptied all 3 boxes by pulling the trigger as quickly as possible without much regard to accuracy or technique.

Granted, rapid-fire can be a lot of fun. But always keep in mind that rounds are practically dollar bills. Don't waste ammunition anymore than you would randomly light piles of money on fire.

PLAN YOUR RANGE TRIP
Simply stated: if you're going to the range for half an hour, try to guage how much ammo you will shoot... and don't take much more than that. For me, that's about 100-150 rnds of 9mm and 50-100 rnds of .22. If I take 500rds of each, then mentally I'll be trying to use it all before my time is up. Back to the previous point: don't waste ammo. Better to have a few unused minutes on the clock, than waste 30 more rds just trying to kill some time.

Shoot until you've accomplished your goal for the day - don't just shoot until you're out of ammunition.

SHOOT FEWER CALIBERS
If you have a .22, a .357, a .45, a 9mm and a .44 magnum with you every time you hit the range - you're going to spend a lot of money feeding them. I've read posts by people seeking to consolidate their guns into just 2-3 calibers at most, and I believe it's a good idea. The more calibers you own and actively shoot, the more boxes of ammo you're going to have to purchase.

BUY A .22 PISTOL
Anyone that owns a .22 will tell you it's a great investment for shooting cheaply - and they're right. .22 Ammo is very inexpensive, and the skills necessary to be accurate with a .22 will translate into a larger caliber. If you want to shoot a LOT every time you hit the range, use a gun that isn't expensive to shoot.

Some of these might be something you can try, while others may not help at all... competitive shooters have different needs than someone who just owns a gun for self-defense. So consider these suggestions, or freely ignore them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is that picture new or am I just not very observant?
hi.