I had seen this story last week but the Libertarian Blog article reminded me of it. In short, police departments across the country are running out of ammo for their weapons training because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention all the other locations we have troops) are sucking up most of the small arms ammunition being manufactured.
When I first heard this, I found it extremely funny. I don’t know what local cops do in regards to time spent on the firing range, but I do know that the FBI is required to requalify every 3 months. If the requirements for law enforcement are anything like “shooting for ribbons” (getting Marksman, Sharpshooter, and Expert awards) in the Navy, then you really don’t have to be at the range that often to qualify.
I don’t deny that they need to use the weapons on a regular basis for familiarization and to stay used to the weapon’s handling and recoil, but I wonder how serious the ammo shortage truly is.
There are other options to using pre-made ammunition. I certainly hope these cop-shops are reloading all the spent brass they generate. If not, then I feel no sympathy for them; reloaded ammo is typically 1/2 the price of store bought ammo.
Additionally, they can use the modified weapons SWAT, Special Forces, et al. use that fire chalk “bullets”. There’s also the AirSoft “pellet guns” that look and feel just like real weapons but shoot plastic BBs. And of course there’s always paint balls.
Oh yeah, in the Navy we have rifles and pistols connected to compressed air hoses. The air gives the same action with a slightly lighter recoil than the real thing. A laser connected to the weapon shows where the “bullet” hits the computerized target.
This is actually pretty cool and can be better than real life: the computer tracks where you’re pointing for half a second before and after you fire. This shows how much movement your weapon moves as you aim and what affect recoil has on your recovery. Used properly, this can provide valuable material to improve performance.
Obviously these some of these don’t give the real feel of a real bullet, but if the training is more important than the actual shooting, then try some alternatives. As long as the people are still able to unload a few clips every couple of months, then I don’t think the ammo shortage is as bad as it could be.