Staying Sharp – Training When Ammunition Is Hard To Find

By: Chris Andersen
3-Gun Nation Pro Shooter

Chris Andersen
Chris Andersen

Honeoye Falls, NY –( How many times in the past few months have you taken the walk back to the sporting goods department of your favorite store in the hopes of finding a couple of boxes of ammunition only to come back empty handed?

Training for competition or self defense can become extremely difficult given the current climate. Practice can be really difficult to justify when ammo is short. But if you still want to compete, or improve your shooting skills, it is no less important when the shelves are empty. Here are some training ideas for making the ammo that you are able to find last:

Make every shot count
I have always said you should go to the range with purpose. Arrive with a plan for what you want to accomplish and keep your practices structured. Mindlessly sending rounds downrange can be counterproductive and more importantly waste ammunition. That sense of purpose will make your practice sessions more efficient and insure quicker improvement.

Prioritize your practice sessions based on what you want to improve in your shooting, and allot a specific number of rounds based on what you have available. That very specific round count will not only save ammo, it will put pressure on you to perform with what you have available, which will make you a better shooter.

Do some bullseye shooting
It doesn’t necessarily have to be in sanctioned competition. Long range or accuracy (group) shooting, whether it be with a rifle or a pistol demands focus and builds fundamentals that translate to and strengthen all other aspects of your shooting. The lower round count and slower pace of this type of shooting helps you keep your ammo supply longer. And the pursuit of perfection it emphasizes insures you keep improving.

Dry fire at home
Used for years by shooters of all levels, dry fire improves eye speed and coordination without requiring a trip to the range. Drills for draws, transitions, reloads etc can be done in your garage, or even your living room with an unloaded gun. Scale targets taped to your wall etc can allow you to get sight pictures and practice proper trigger control, transitions, and gun manipulation all with no investment and without firing a single round of ammunition.

Get an airsoft gun
Airsoft is becoming less and less of a secret among top competition shooters. Practice time spent with airsoft pistols and rifles can offer tremendous training value. The higher end guns are far from toys, offering a tremendous level of realism and functionality compared to a real firearm. Scale steel and paper targets are available from a number of different vendors offering you the chance to run drills engaging reactive targets that give immediate feedback and make practice sessions a lot of fun. Gas blow-back guns even offer realistic operation with functioning slides and bolts, and a surprising amount of recoil. Their realism also allows you to use real optics, accessories, and holsters which means you can set them up and practice with them just like your real firearms.

Other sports offer opportunities to improve the athleticism, hand eye coordination, and reaction times used in action shooting. Running or cycling can give you the endurance to make those long matches easier, and the speed to get to that next position faster. Ball sports like baseball or softball can improve hand eye coordination and eye speed. Sports like golf (yes I said golf) and the concentration level they require can help keep you mentally sharp for those tough matches.

Hang in there. Not being able to find ammunition can be incredibly frustrating. But staying smart with your practice sessions mean you don’t have to give up on improving your shooting. It also means that you can save the ammo you do find for the matches that you really want to shoot. And when you those shelves finally do get re-stocked when supply catches up, your new approach to practice will have you sharper than ever!

About Chris Andersen:
Chris Andersen is an Oklahoma native and lifelong shooter quickly advanced through the USPSA action pistol ranks crossing over to 3 Gun in 2010.

AR15.Com originated in 1996 as a mailing list for firearm enthusiasts. As the years passed and interest grew, a website came into existence to present those same enthusiasts with a means to collect, share, and explore information. Shortly afterwards, a bulletin board was added to create a more interactive experience for the growing list of users. The site was still in it’s infancy, but was growing in popularity. Visit:

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Couldn’t agree more! And when practicing with a rifle, spend most of your time shooting from the standing position. Taken seriously, it will improve the shooter more than any other position. And the shooter is always the weakest part of the accuracy equation. I cringe when I see guys blasting boxes of ammo off sandbags. Once the gun is zeroed, get up on your hind legs and improve your skills!