How Montanans think about the TSA’s ammo purchase

Gary Marbut President, The Montana Shooting Sports Association
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A recent headline shouts that the TSA will be purchasing 3.5 million rounds of ammunition.

That sounds spooky, but let’s give that figure some perspective. The fact is, it will take a lot more than 3.5 million rounds for “them” to catch up with “us.”

Consider the ammunition consumption in one shooting season in Montana. There are six to eight active practical pistol shooting clubs in Montana that hold nationally-sanctioned matches.  For our calculations, let’s use six clubs. Suppose these clubs put on only one match per month during the shooting season of April through October (most do more). That’s seven matches. Suppose the minimum round count to complete one of these matches is 100 rounds per competitor (it’s usually more).  Suppose the average attendance at these matches is 60 shooters (often more). That amounts to a quarter of a million rounds of ammunition for contestants to shoot these Montana matches in one season.

Suppose each one of these contestants expends just five rounds of ammunition in training and practice for every round fired in a match (most would do more; some as high as 30:1). We’re suddenly up to a low-ball estimate of 1.5 million rounds of ammunition expended in one shooting season in just one shooting discipline.

Then, add in other popular shooting sports, such as trap, skeet, sporting clays, bullseye, highpower, smallbore, IDPA, multi-gun, precision rifle, metallic cartridge, blackpowder, machine-gun shoots, and some I’m forgetting. On top of all that, add in hunting and unorganized recreational shooting.

Given those consumptions, the 3.5 million rounds for TSA is certainly less, maybe a lot less, than just the annual recreational ammo budget for the people of Montana, just one state. Montanans likely consume over 10 million rounds of ammo each shooting season for recreational shooting.

Now Montana is a pretty “gunny” place with a lot of shooting going on, but so are a lot of other states. I’d bet that the annual recreational civilian ammo consumption of many other states exceeds that of Montana, just because most other states have a lot more people than Montana. In fact, because of its small population, my best guess is that Montana is below average in annual, statewide ammo consumption.

But, suppose Montana is just average, at my educated guess of at least 10 million rounds per year. Multiply that by 50 states and you get an annual civilian ammo consumption in the U.S. of 500 million rounds. Suddenly the TSA purchase of 3.5 million rounds seems pretty puny.

This is not to say that hoards of federal police, increasingly unburdened by their Fourth Amendment responsibilities, using our money to buy lots of guns and ammo is not worrisome. It is. But until the senators from California and New York have their way with gun control, they have a long way to go to catch up with the rest of us.

Gary Marbut serves as President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, shoots competitively in two disciplines, practical pistol and precision rifle and is accepted in state and federal courts as an expert concerning firearms use and safety and use of force.

Gary Marbut