Everyday Outdoors: Doing more with less…ammo


In recent months, some types of ammunition have been difficult to find, or if you can find it, extremely expensive. There are ways to shoot more efficiently without expending a lot of rounds.

One of the best ways to practice, with any type of firearm, and it doesn’t take any ammunition at all, is by dry firing. Dry firing is simply aiming at a target and pressing the trigger, without firing any live ammo. Some people like to use “dummy rounds” or snap caps, which are available for many popular cartridges. Opinions vary on whether dropping the hammer on an empty chamber can cause excessive wear on parts or not. If you are concerned about this possibility, you may want to invest in snap caps. My firearms have been dry fired, with empty chambers, many thousands of times, with no issues. The one exception for me is with rimfire cartridges, such as .22LR, .22 WMR. .17HMR, etc. Due to the manner in which the firing pin strikes the back of the chamber in a rimfire, I simply use fired casings to absorb the impact.

When you get to the range to sight in, eliminate as much human error as possible. While it is great to practice shooting in various unstable field positions, this is not what we are trying to accomplish when we are trying to get sighted in. We want to eliminate as many variables as we possibly can. When zeroing, or sighting in, we want the most solid platform we can get in order to shoot the gun/ammo/sighting system to its full potential. If you roll a jacket up on a picnic table and lay the rifle across it, with no support for the rear of the rifle, you are probably not shooting the rifle to its full potential.

If you fire a shot two or three inches left, then a shot two or three inches right — perhaps one of them a little high, the other

Rifle on a bench rest and rear bag.

a little low — and you are not sure which, if either, was a good shot, you can’t adjust your scope or sights for that. Good solid front and rear shooting bags are not very expensive and can quickly pay for themselves by saving wasted shots, especially with current ammo prices and availability.

Another way to get on target more quickly and efficiently is to start your zeroing session from a shorter distance. While working at a public range, we always encouraged people to start shooting a new rifle at 50 yards, before fine-tuning at 100 yards, and then going further if they wish. Often, the shooter would refuse, wanting to zero at 100 yds. Many times, their initial shots would not even be on the paper at 100 yards, and they could not tell which way to adjust. So, after wasting half a box of ammo, they would put the target at 50 yards, like the range officers had suggested.

Different methods of bore sighting can be helpful as well, but you can’t beat accurate, repeatable impact on paper. Just remember, if your scope adjustments are calibrated to move bullet impact a certain amount at 100 yards, say four clicks per inch, you will have to double the amount of clicks to move the impact the same amount at 50 yards.

Dry fire practice, using a solid rest when zeroing, and starting out our range sessions at shorter distances can all help us get on target quicker, while using less ammo. Learn to do more with less.

Wade Shambaugh has lived in Morgan County his whole life and is a lifelong outdoorsman.