No ammo for your 4-H shoot club? No problem!

Investigate alternatives to ammo shortage in 4-H shooting sports.

If you’re the member or leader of a 4-H shooting sports club, by now you are probably familiar with the shortage of ammunition for firearms.  Most notably, there has been difficulty in obtaining .22 shells. Seems the moment they arrive of the shelves, they are bought quickly by shooting enthusiasts. There are many theories and ideas circulating why this shortage is upon us.  It doesn’t matter.  Dealing with this shortage of ammo so your 4-H shooting club can continue to shoot and develop various life skills learned through their 4-H shooting sports participation is key. This also includes safety, sportsmanship, ethical behavior, and conservation, among others.

This situation is a great opportunity to engage your club in creative solutions to this problem.  It gives youth a chance to experience the 4-H saying “learn by doing”. Let youth take the lead in determining how to move forward. Below are some examples to get your group started.

The first option is to contact a sporting good dealer who sells .22 shells.  Ask them if they are willing to set aside an established number of shells for use with your 4-H club.  Be sure to tell them you represent a 4-H youth club governed by Michigan State University Extension that teaches more than just how to have fun – it teaches youth responsibility and life skills. Also ask your 4-H shooting sports coordinator to assist you either in person or with a letter of support. You likely won’t get a discount in price, but are only asking to secure ammo needed for your club to operate.

The good news is there is no shortage of BB and air pellet ammunition which introduces 4-H members to additional styles of shooting.  Most clubs that offer .22 shooting also use BB guns and air rifles within their program. These options offer a viable alternative to shooting .22 to keep 4-H members accurate and focused. These do not replace .22 shooting but rather serve as a substitute to keep youth active. This can conserve your .22 ammo until you obtain more.  In addition, these options can also be used indoors so weather is not an obstacle provided you have the appropriate indoor equipment and facility.   

This is also a good time to try alternative learning opportunities with your 4-H members. This is an opportune time to introduce or review cleaning and maintaining guns. Proper care is a valuable skill and provides a more efficient and safe firearm. Other learning opportunities include understanding gun construction, mechanics, history and learning about the firearm industry. You could also visit a local firearm shop and talk with the owner about the business and regulations for firearm entrepreneurs, including discussing the ammunition shortage.

This is also a good time to consider other disciplines within shooting sports.  Archery is very popular and can be shot both indoors and out.  Shotgun offers both skeet and trap shooting and the ammo shortage does not pertain to shotgun shells.  Muzzleloader is great option to teach about traditional shooting requiring more care and knowledge about ammo, powder and loading.  Hunting and Wildlife is a lesser thought of shooting sports discipline that focuses on hunter ethics and techniques with a closer look at animal characteristics and habitat. 

The thrill of shooting is part of what makes shooting sports fun and exciting, but it is not the only value provided to 4-H youth who participate. The lack of ammo may be a hindrance, but it doesn’t have to take away from the activity and lessons shooting sports provides. Other options and possibilities exist to expand and enhance shooting sports for youth.

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