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Nationwide shortage of ammunition puts a squeeze on hunting season

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MARION, Iowa (KWWL) -- As early hunting season opens in Iowa, many hunters, sportsmen, and even law enforcement agencies have been experiencing a shortage of ammunition.

It's a nationwide problem.

Local gun dealers and law enforcement agencies say it began last March with the pandemic. That sparked a shortage of labor and a shortage of goods -- which has driven up costs -- when demand is at an all-time high.

Ernie Traugh has owned Cedar Valley Outfitters in Marion for 20 years and he has been in the industry for nearly 25 years.

"This ammo on my shelf that the distributor sent me last week was ordered by that distributor probably a year or 16 months ago. They have to future things out. You know any industry does that," Traugh says.

Local gun dealers are rationing their own stock, advising customers to shop around, and trying to help them prepare for hunting season.

"You have a lot of people that just need a box here and a box there. So, you're basically just trying to help more people get out and go hunting and enjoy it," Traugh says.

The ammunition shortage is also affecting law enforcement agencies. Marion Police Chief Mike Kitsmiller says he has budgeted for the next fiscal year a 35% increase in the price -- or $25,000 -- the department pays for ammunition. And he has had to wait months for ammunition to come in.

"It's a balancing act between the amount of training that we do and the availability of rounds but we're adapting to it. Certainly, proficiency with a handgun or a firearm is something that you can't really cut back on so we're getting the training we need to get. We're just being smarter about it," Kitsmiller said.

Sometimes, that means buying ammunition from local dealers, too.