Something wakes you. You can’t quite place the sound, but your heart pounds and every sense seems heightened. What was it? A dream? The dog? No, there it is again – the crunch of shattered glass. Someone is in your home. You jump out of bed and reach for the pistol you keep in the nightstand – only to realize that now, in your moment of need with the lives of your loved ones on the line, you have no bullets.
Is this what runs through your mind when the ammo shortage comes up? If you aren’t one of those who buys every bullet to touch the shelf – a big part of the current problem – this may be your nightmare. But there’s another danger, one perhaps you haven’t considered: Are you really going to shoot your last rounds training and have nothing left should you need it? Of course not – and neither is anyone else, civilian or otherwise. No, the real danger of the shortage, which has now hit police departments nationwide, isn’t that you or an officer on the street will be woefully unarmed when deadly force is needed most; it’s that you may be over-armed, at least relative to your current competence. Safe shooting requires constant training. The biggest risk of a sustained ammo shortage isn’t to the armed American or even the law enforcement officer – it’s to everyone else within lethal range should those weapons come into play.
Just How Much Do You Need?
Those who aren’t gun people probably don’t realize just how many rounds are consumed in training alone. The shooting needs vary from one person to the next by skill levels and goals, but generally speaking, even more conservative shooters should be firing off more rounds than can be currently found on the shelves in most gun stores. It isn’t at all uncommon for a shooter to spend a couple of hours at the range per trip and burn through 500 rounds or more. Are you one of those lucky enough to live out in the woods and not need to spend money at a range? Chances are you shoot at least a few thousand rounds a month when ammo’s cheap. But what about now? Each shooter is accountable for every bullet that leaves his or her weapon. If forced to fire in self-defense in public, every round must land precisely where it belongs. Nine out of ten isn’t good enough when that one might mean an innocent life on your conscience.
Cutting Corners With Public Safety
As dangerous as it is for a civilian to go out armed but untrained, imagine the police having the same problem. As an armed American, you are prepared for that less-than-1% chance that you’re going to get attacked and need to use deadly force for self-defense. Law enforcement officers walk into lethal force situations regularly – it’s part of the job. Not only are police departments nationwide spending more on ammunition than ever before – just like everyone else – they’re getting fewer rounds for their money (that is, our tax dollars). Fewer bullets leads to one of three things:
- Fewer rounds in the hands of officers on the streets – essentially, unarmed or under-armed officers.
- Fewer officers on the streets, meaning more folks laid off.
- Less training so that there’s more ammo for “when it counts.”
Now which of the three do you think most departments will pick?
The vast majority of civilians will never be in a situation where a weapon becomes necessary; but what about the men and women we expect to stand between us and those who hope to do violence? As necessary as training is for the armed American, it’s even more critical for those sent daily into the fray. Adequate training is the only way to ensure an officer’s shot placement is solid – but there’s another aspect to potentially lethal encounters it improves. Knowing when to pull a gun and when to leave it holstered comes from experience and confidence in one’s abilities. Aside from actual experience in the field, that comes from – you guessed it – training. When departments are spread thin, both in manpower and firepower, the bodies and minds filling those boots on the ground are stressed – maybe even a bit afraid – and less likely to react appropriately in dangerous situations. Cut out time spent training for any reason, and that problem only gets worse. An officer who fails to pull a gun when it’s time could end up dead – and one who draws when it isn’t time could end someone else’s life unnecessarily.
With prices soaring and supplies sinking, everyone who carries has a choice to make: Train less or risk being unarmed when I need it? It’s a tough situation, and there isn’t a lot that can be done until the panic buying ends. Just remember before you step out of the house armed that if you aren’t training, your skills are waning. Shooting a gun might be as easy to remember as riding a bike – but hitting your target isn’t. As an armed civilian or police officer, you’re accountable for every round that leaves your weapon. When it comes to hitting what you’re shooting at and nothing else, there’s simply no substitute for regular training.
Read more from James Fite.
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