The ammo shortage has resulted in 50% of hunters and target shooters limiting or cancelling their trips to the range or afield, a recent survey by Southwick Associates found. Additionally, only 17% of survey participants reported being happy with the amount of ammo they currently have on hand. Nevertheless, gun ownership rates continue to surge in the US.
The majority of hunters (72%) want to stock up on ammunition due to uncertainty over future ammo supply while 70% are doing so due to expected eventual restrictions on ammo purchases. 52% are stocking up now to get ahead of poor future economic conditions. Only 26% of survey participants are purchasing more ammo in order to hunt or shoot more regularly. Specifically, younger hunters and shooters typically want more ammo in order to be able to head out to the field more often, while the ammo purchases of older hunters and shooters tend to be motivated by future uncertainty.
Importance of self-defense
However, self-defense rather than hunting is the prime reason for the recent spike in gun sales. “Personal defense has always been in the driver’s seat,” says Richard Sprague, owner of Sprague’s Sports in Yuma, AZ. “Recreational shooting is still in there, and of course hunting is still in there, but personal defense seems to get people into our stores for the first time.” Retailers report semi-auto handguns as the most popular purchase for new gun buyers — muzzleloaders and traditional rifles being the least. Many shooters are also taking to gun-related projects like building their own AR-15s. Building an AR-15 let’s shooters selectively choose all key components in order to create a unique and optimized rifle. In particular, choosing a lightweight and durable 80% lower receiver is an important element of building an AR-15, helping shooters save money as well as avoid certain legal formalities.
Boom in hunting participation
More people than ever have taken up hunting over the past year despite the ammo shortage. There were 8 million new gun owners in 2020 and hunting license sales increased by 5% with first-time license buyers largely responsible. As a result, shooting range visits surged. “Shooting ranges are busier than they’ve ever been,” says Chris Dolnack, senior vice president and chief customer officer of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “I think that goes to some extent to the eight to nine million new gun owners that we have, and that they’re familiarizing themselves with their firearms and seeking training.” Although ammo scarcity and cost is meaning experienced hunters and shooters are visiting the range less, it’s not getting in the way of new gun buyers who are unfamiliar with how the old ammo market compares to now.
Ultimately, the ammo shortage isn’t getting in the way of hunters picking up their guns, however it’s stopping them from participating as often as they want. Ammo availability will start to increase this fall alongside many hunters returning to work or school. More research is needed to know how exactly this will impact participation this fall hunting season.
The Ammo Shortage: How Is Hunting And Shooting Participation Being Affected? is written by Aaron Spuler for www.weapon-blog.com