Got (Less) Ammo?

22-Mar-13 – 10:24 by ToddG

emptyrangeempty ranges

With the current ammo drought, the internet is ablaze with discussions and comments about ways to cope. Most such comments revolve around various ways to do more with less. But the hard truth is this: if you’ve already been training efficiently, you can’t improve certain skills without live fire practice. Pretty much anything that deals with recoil requires actual recoil. Multiple shots on a target or, to a lesser extent, engaging multiple targets are in large part about the physical and visual aspects of recoil management. No matter how much you dry fire, your recoil management isn’t going to improve.

This can be a tough pill for some to swallow. When practice ammo is limited, people tend to shoot slower and practice shorter drills because it gives them a sense of practicing more. “I only had 50 rounds, but I spent two hours on the range practicing.” Practicing what? Did you really make the most of those fifty rounds, or did you just spend a really long time wasting them?


The trick, then, is to examine your practice routines and improve their efficiency with the ammo shortage in mind. If you’re spending your range time practicing one shot draws, weak hand only marksmanship, and malfunction clearance drills it may be time to relegate the majority of that to dry fire. Save your practice ammo for (1) working those skills that can only be improved with live ammo and (2) verifying skill.

Further, contrary to conventional wisdom, I’d rather see someone save up their 50 rounds per week and do one serious 200rd practice a month instead. Skill building comes from drilling, doing something over and over, examining what you’re doing right and wrong, then adjusting your technique appropriately. A weekly practice session that involves doing three drills each three times isn’t really going to do more than maintain your current skill level, at best. (see Learning vs Skill Building vs Maintenance here at PTC)

So is it the end of the world? No. Most of us have gaps in our training that we normally ignore in favor of getting faster and faster splits, etc. Now is the time to fill in those gaps with dedicated practice. Most manipulations can be practiced dry fire. While I’d never say a Weak Hand Only Double Feed Malfunction Clearance is at the top of my priority list, it’s certainly something I can practice ad infinitum in dry fire. Draws, reloads, and malfunction clearances can all be practiced to your heart’s content dry and then checked for validity with very little ammunition. Trigger manipulation can be improved… go grab that j-frame that sits in your pocket all the time and learn to pull the trigger two handed, SHO, and WHO without upsetting the sights. It will make your Glock/Smith/1911 trigger feel like Easy Mode.

Add a SIRT training pistol to your kit and your practice can expand even further. Shooting on the move, shooting moving targets, working from behind cover, and even some limited force-on-force training all become very practical subjects.

Of course, this can also be a time to focus on skills outside of shooting. I’m always amazed at how few shooters know basic field trauma care (see this excellent YouTube video by the late Paul Gomez). Take some of that money that you’d normally be spending on ammunition and find a good gunshot wound class or, at a minimum, get first aid certified. Take an unarmed combatives class. Take a defensive driving class. Round out your skill set.

Just know that when the drought passes, those skills that need live fire to succeed will have deteriorated somewhat. When the rains come, you can go back and focus on them more.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 10 Responses to “Got (Less) Ammo?”

  2. Or hit the gym.

    Okie John

    By okie john on Mar 22, 2013

  3. An excellent point. Especially about the field trauma care. If you carry for your safety and to save lives, it just segues. Also, it is arrogant and dangerous to assume the bad guy won’t get a shot off just because you are so good.

    By John on Mar 22, 2013

  4. Shouldn’t it be “drought”, rather than “draught”? Or are you using some obscure, definition two type meaning that Tam taught you?

    By Defaultmp3 on Mar 22, 2013

  5. Thanks for catching that, Default!

    By ToddG on Mar 22, 2013

  6. very good points as always.. focus on other essential skills is necessary, to round out our survivability potential…

    By LCSO264 on Mar 22, 2013

  7. Or come to Canada where the ammo is plentiful.
    Or not. We actually had this discussion again tonight at class, I had my students go through 250 rounds roughly, and some asked about bringing .22s next time. I’m considering allowing .22s so long as they are conversion kits for their actual guns, not simply Rugers or Smiths. We can work on non recoil drills with them, and we can also do more dryfire at the start of class.
    I know that we’re feeling the crunch up here too, just not quite as bad as the USA.

    By Rob E on Mar 23, 2013

  8. “Trigger manipulation can be improved… go grab that j-frame that sits in your pocket all the time and learn to pull the trigger two handed, SHO, and WHO without upsetting the sights. It will make your Glock/Smith/1911 trigger feel like Easy Mode.”

    Excellent suggestion, where should my finger be on the revolver trigger to improve my Glock trigger manipulaiton?

    By Jon on Mar 23, 2013

  9. Not quite related to the article, but the first photo looks like Sig’s indoor range.

    Sig has been very busy lately. I don’t know where people are getting the ammo, but the Sig ranges are full.

    By Tony B on Mar 24, 2013

  10. Tony B — Good eye! That is, in fact, the SIG Academy range. I took that photo years ago before our annual instructor meeting. Great to hear they’re staying busy.

    By ToddG on Mar 25, 2013

  11. I’d really like to get some medical training… any suggestions for a good field trauma course in the DC area?

    By Ben on Mar 27, 2013

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.