During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, the related gun-buying frenzy and subsequent ammo shortages, NRA Women offered multiple options for maintaining defense-ready skills without ever having to leave your home. (See Dry Practice Saves Shooting Expertise, Ammo, on Rainy Days; and Shooting Drills That Won’t Waste Ammo.) Although dry-fire practice is something that should be incorporated into any gun owner’s regimen, now that ranges are once again open, don’t squander the opportunity to get out as often as is practical and burn up some of that ammo you’ve been saving.
Worried about the cost of a day at the range? We hear you. Overall ammo prices are coming closer to pre-pandemic pricing, but we have been blindsided with inflation to the point that it is now a serious consideration in everything we buy, from everyday essentials like groceries and gas, to non-essentials like hobbies and entertainment. Shooting is not an inexpensive activity, but here are a few creative ideas you can incorporate to help cut costs on what we gun owners just can't live without—a trip to the range.
1. Shoot with Friends
Grab a gal pal or two and make an outing of it. Assess the guns you may bring to the shoot. Make it a .380 day, 9 mm day or a .45 ACP day. If you have likeminded friends, follow the “carpool gas” model—each shooter provides the ammo for the day. Rotate each time you go shooting. If practical, the same can hold true for range fees.
2. Ladies Night Discounts
The increasing number of women (and groups of women) taking to the gun range with no man in tow to help load magazines may end up leading to the demise of the “ladies night” concept, but for now, to encourage women shooters, many ranges dispense with standard range fees during ladies night and other special events.
3. Buy in Bulk
Entire business empires are built on this premise. Popular ammunition sizes are finally reappearing on shelves with more regularity, with the frenzy—and highly inflated prices—of 2020 thankfully in our rearview mirror (for now). If you can find a supply that hasn’t already been the target of an ammo hoarder, buy an extra box or two for yourself over time and bank a little for future use. Buying online is once again a viable option for bulk purchases. Check out some of our favorite resources here.
4. Range Membership and NRA Member Discounts
Do the math. If you plan to shoot at your local range frequently (at least once per week), it might be worth it to invest in an annual membership, as most ranges offer member discounts on range time and more. Many ranges will also offer discounts to NRA members, so be sure you have your membership card in your wallet!
5. Make or Print Your Own Targets
Targets are inexpensive at the range, but bulk paper plates are cheaper. If your range allows for it, there are a ton of options here, from repurposing boxes to affixing ChromaLabel stickers on pie plates (mmm, pie…). Even easier, the National Shooting Sports Foundation offers a variety of printable targets (8.5” x 11”).
If components are available and you have the time to devote to learning this rewarding hobby, reloading brings shooting enthusiasts closer to the experience and, over time, can save you money. And there isn’t much that is more Zen-like outside of the range than quietly rolling your own.
7. Buy a .22
There are multiple benefts to this suggestion: .22 rimfire ammo is less expensive and, for the time being, more available. Platforms are legion (double- and single-action revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, and rifle styles such as the classic lever, bolt, semi-automatic …. There are many examples of full-size, 80 percent size or smaller versions of larger-caliber cousins (Glock 44, Browning 1911-22 A1, Walther/Colt 1991-A1). And in general, .22 rifles are permitted to be used at indoor ranges. Also, your hands will be considerably happier after a day at the range with a .22.