|The Daily Courier/Jason Soifer
Roscoe Livingston demonstrates his reloading equipment at his Prescott-area home.|
The Daily Courier
PRESCOTT - Shooters are starting to unload on the skyrocketing costs of bullets.
Rising fuel costs, hazardous materials fees and the U.S. military's demand for small-arms ammunition are causing problems for recreational shooters and law enforcement agencies.
Just ask Gary Carr.
Carr shoots in excess of 5,000 rounds a year in order to keep his edge for competitions.
"It's nothing to go out in a practice session and shoot 1,000 rounds," he said.
In an average match, Carr and other enthusiasts can go through 150 to 300 rounds.
"Real dedicated shooters shoot a lot," he said.
Carr said a box of 50 rounds today costs roughly $25.
Three years ago, Carr said that same box cost about $18.
That leaves Carr and other shooters few choices.
"If you're going to compete, you're going to bite the bullet and go for it," he said.
Shooters are turning away from commercial bullets and looking for ways to cut their costs.
Carr is one of many shooters who crafts his own bullets, finding it more wallet-friendly.
"When I need them, I reload them," he said. "It's still more economical than boxed bullets."
Charly Gullett is taking aim at that market.
Gullett is carrying reloading equipment at The American Gunshop store he runs on Grove Avenue.
The problem is that the cost of bullet parts, like casings and primers, which are to bullets what the ignition is to a car, are getting tougher to find.
Gullett recently paid $22 for a box of 1,000 primers and is selling it at a price that barely covers his costs.
Still, Gullett said people are making the investment on reloading equipment because it still beats buying commercially made bullets.
For less than $800, a shooter can purchase reloading equipment and recoup that money in about a year.
"People are starting to realize that they need to do it," he said.
But Gullett pointed out that reloading is complex and it is not for everybody.
Roscoe Livingston and his wife, Ann, are avid competitive shooters who both go through about 60,000 rounds annually shooting 10 or 11 guns each in various competitions.
He said they have cut back on their recreational shooting.
Recreational shooters have a choice. But local law enforcement agencies are feeling the pinch, too,
and unlike recreational shooters, police departments must rely on direct suppliers.
"We can't reload our own, obviously, because it's too much of a liability," said Prescott Police Sgt. Clayton Heath.
Heath said police departments are waiting a longer period of time to receive rifle ammunition.
"We're making accommodations for that and we're making sure that we order it far enough in advance for when training does come around," he said.
Despite the delay, Heath said the department is not anxious about it and it is not cutting back on practice sessions.
Sgt. James Edelstein, with the Prescott Valley Police Department, said his department also is experiencing a delay in ammunition shipments.
Edelstein said what normally takes about eight weeks to get is now taking three to six months.
He said the department is not cutting back on weapons training, but is modifying some training to utilize different types of ammunition to achieve the same goals.
A shortage of handgun ammunition means officers are doing more training with rifles.
It should be noted that training ammunition is different than the ammunition officers use in the field.
Yavapai County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Susan Quayle said YCSO's latest request for ammunition is on back order for about a year and officers are using duty ammunition for training.
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