I’m shooting in an indoor pistol league this year. Nothing fancy, just conventional pistol, shot with a .22 (some folks are using larger calibers, but at today’s ammo prices, I’ll stick with the .22). This is my second season competing. It’s been a bit of a challenge for me. I’ve spent most of my pistol-shooting life using a two-handed grip to shoot at silhouette targets. Bullseye shooting is done one-handed, so it’s taken some getting used to. But I am enjoying it, which is entirely the point.
When I shot last year, I didn’t exactly set the world on fire with my performance, but my scores improved every week, so I was happy. As long as I’m always improving, it’s all good.
I started this season a bit below where I ended last season. I hadn’t practiced in months, so that was to be expected. But things started to pick up after a couple weeks. Then I ran out of ammo.
You may have read that there’s an ammo shortage going on. Well folks, that ain’t no lie. I had a tough time finding .22 ammo, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish the season. In fact, based on my experience, .22 ammo is the hardest to find in my area. I’m not sure why. If people are hoarding for the large scale civil unrest or the zombie apocalypse, they ought to be buying larger caliber bullets.
I lucked out when I found a local gun store that had two bricks (500 round boxes) of Remington .22 in stock. I grabbed one, figuring it would be enough to get me through the season. I figured wrong. The quantity was more than sufficient, but quality-wise… not so much.
Now Remington is a well known brand. They’ve been around for a couple centuries. Hell, my dad had a Remington rifle and shotgun. Both were fine firearms. It never occurred to me that the company that manufactures such excellent guns would produce such low quality ammo.
Once I got to the range with my new ammo, my shooting went south almost immediately. Feed jams were frequent. On top of that, about 10% of the rounds were duds. Frustration set in. And my shooting suffered. A lot. My scores actually started going down from week to week.
Prior to buying the Remingtons, I had been shooting CCI ammo. I had been shooting CCI for years and had always had good results with it. So I decided that my only hope of salvaging the season would be to get more CCI. Either that, or I should just ditch the gun and throw my bullets at the target.
My search for the Holy Grail of ammunition was easier said than done. I hit up several Wal-Marts, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and a half dozen gun stores. Most had no .22 ammo at all, and the few places that did had small boxes of obscure brands at ridiculous prices. It was looking like I’d find the actual Holy Grail before I would find any good ammo.
I was griping about my plight last week when one of the guys in my gun club mentioned a little gun store out in the boonies that might have some .22 ammo. The store is only open 2 days a week for 2 or 3 hours each day. He gave me an address and phone number. I wasn’t too hopeful, but I decided to give it a shot.
On Saturday, I gave the guy a call and asked him if he had any .22 long rifle ammo. “I have a little.” I asked him what brands he had. There was no way I was driving all the way out there for more Remingtons. “Some Winchester and some CCI.” Bingo! I told him I’ d there in a little while.
This store is out in the middle of nowhere. It’s on a dirt road that’s off another dirt road. I’d have driven right by it if I hadn’t seen the wooden sign that read “guns ammo” on the ground, leaning against a tree. The building was small. There were already eight customers inside. I squeezed in and waited my turn. When I got to the counter, I saw that there were several bricks of CCI .22 stacked next to the register. I heard the voice of Charlie Sheen in my head. “Winning!”
The bullets cost me $35, $15 more than I paid for a brick of CCI last year, but $5 less than what I paid for those crappy Remingtons a few weeks ago.
Last night was league night. I shot my 60 rounds without a single malfunction. No duds, no feeds jams. It wasn’t a stellar night for me score-wise, but it was probably my best night of the season.
Lessons learned from this experience:
1. Use CCI ammo whenever possible.
2. Don’t use Remington ammo. Throwing rocks works better.
3. Travel to the boonies to buy your ammo. The hoarders are wiping out all the bigger stores.