This isn’t our community’s first ammo draught, but it looks like its going to be our worst one yet. We’ve dealt with it before and we’ll deal with it this year as well. You could (and probably should) sit at home and read some books, but you don’t have to give up on training or practice completely.
The good news is that quality educators understand how to adjust both curricula and focus to provide value with a lower round count on the range. Many can also do plenty of good teaching off the range. In some cases, instructors with diverse expertise can offer more classes that don’t require live fire at all. Medical courses, unarmed defense, home defense seminars, family safety seminars and Active Shooter Response programs are regularly taught without any range activity… and they are incredibly valuable.
Another piece of good news is that non-live fire training with guns has come a long way in two important directions. Most Importantly, there are many instructors who know how to conduct non-live fire training with guns in a meaningful way. You aren’t going to learn how to shoot or learn contextually appropriate gun handling without live fire, but you can learn and refine presentation from the holster, moving and speaking with the gun in the ready position, decision making while holding a gun and many other skill sets. Some of those things are actually much better learned and practiced while not on a live range, especially for new students. Much of this type of training is aided by technological advances since the last drought… including technology that can help you maintain or even develop some skills on your own.
The technology itself has also gotten more affordable as well. Mantis products allow for a fair amount of shooting skill development without firing a round, and products like SIRT Pistols can be used to practice most of the skills listed above and be integrated with low-cost video simulators to test application of shooting skill and decision making while armed. Systems like iMarksman & iDryFire are also impressively capable of aiding training & practice in a variety of ways.
The dangers of the lack of affordable training ammunition really lie with new gun owners who have never shot their guns before, at least not in a defensive training context, and who will chose to go armed without skill development or practice. For this group, I do recommend paying the outrageous prices we are seeing right now and finding a quality instructor who can help them develop skills efficiently… a few hundred rounds a day for a day or two of training in an intuitive shooting program can go a long way.
Another danger that I wish we didn’t have to mention is the disingenuous shooting instructor who really hasn’t developed their expertise or programs in areas other than shooting who try to offer classes off the range just to keep their businesses going. If someone only has certifications from the NRA, for example, it would make sense to be cautious about taking a non-shooting class from them without vetting the curriculum they’ll be sharing.
Ultimately, especially for those of you who have a few classes under your belts, the lack of affordable ammo might just inspire you to spend more time on areas of learning that are probably going to be more valuable to you than additional trigger time. Learning emergency medical skills is probably worth a lot more than shaving a tenth of a second off your presentation time during a timer drill. As always, a visit to Personal Defense Network could offer some information to get you started or a full online class that won’t require a single round from your stockpile to complete!
Teacher, Author & Entrepreneur.
Rob Pincus is the owner of I.C.E. Training Company, developer of the Intuitive Defensive
Shooting Program (AKA "Combat Focus"), Executive Director of the Personal Defense Network and Vice President of Design at Avidity Arms. He has been a full time instructor for almost two decades and part of the firearms industry since 1997.
He has taught various defensive topics around the world to military, law enforcement, & security personnel and those interested in personal defense. He has published 9 books, countless articles and produced over 100 Training DVDs. He has been featured as an expert on personal defense on dozens of TV and Radio programs and been a host or featured instructor in several seasons of shows including The Best Defense, S.W.A.T. Magazine TV and Trigger Time.
Rob also serves as the Executive Vice President of 2AO.org, and is on the Board of Walk The Talk America and the Center for Gun Rights & Responsibilities.