Lack of customers not a problem, finding restock ammo is

Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune
Trent Whited, Shooter’s Corner range manager, sets the range on a laser pistol in the simulation room where shooting training starts. Firearms and ammunition sales as well as the number of people wanting to learn how to shot have climbed rapidly since the coronavirus pandemic.

The uncertainty of a future with COVID-19 has impacted businesses everywhere, including those in Pratt. But business is booming at Shooter’s Corner, a gun store and recreational outlet that has seen changes in customer visits and a shift in interest to purchasing guns and ammunition. This increase has made it difficult for employees to keep the shelves restocked.

Gary Myers, Shooter’s Gallery manager, said while he has hand guns, rifles, shot guns and ammunition in stock, getting restock items is taking longer and longer. 

Myers said he can go to manufacture web sites and scroll down through the list of their guns and find item after item that are not available. For some manufacturers, none of their stock is available. Myers checked a large wholesale distributor for Glocks, a popular type in law enforcement, and not one model was available. The same was true for Mossberg with model after model out of stock.

Myers said a sales representative who has been in wholesale for 38 years said he has never seen the volume of firearms that are being sold. When a company gets in a new shipment, each sales representative has about 15 seconds to place their order before they are sold out. 

Myers has had a federal firearms license for 34 years and has never seen a vendor that’s been out of everything. Usually, an order can be filled in two to three days, now wholesalers are four weeks behind on shipping. 

Ammunition is the same. If he sells out of certain types of ammunition, replacement stock will be unavailable and it will take some time before it is available again, Myers said. 

When businesses started closing, the gun shop was deemed essential so Shooter’s Corner stayed open. The live fire range was shut down but the retail portion with firearms, ammunition and accessories stayed open. 

Shooters Corner has always done a good business selling firearms and ammunition but after the pandemic started, sales went wild. 

“I’m struggling to replenish what we sell,” Myers said. “The demand out there is phenomenal.” 

As the crisis continued, the biggest change Myers saw was in the sale of firearms and ammunition. Sales of firearms, hand guns and shot guns, increased to a point that Myers is having trouble resupplying inventory. 

People wanted large quantities and were buying case lots with 1,000 rounds. Myers is struggling to keep 9 mm in stock. Two weeks ago, he got in a shipment of 3,000 rounds of 9 mm and it sold out in just five days. Those shelves remain empty. 

Most of the firearms sales are defensive hand guns and shot guns. The AR 15 is a popular model and Myers can’t find a vendor with them in stock. 

Myers said he thinks people across the country are nervous about what other people might do. They  want the ability to defend themselves and are coming in to learn how to shoot. 

“People are concerned about self defense,” Myers said. 

With political calls for bans on assault style weapons plus rioting and looting, Americans are afraid and want to be able to protect themselves. They want to get guns while they can. 

“It’s not the government the people fear, they fear the people,” Myers said.  

When the pandemic started, family groups were not coming in and were self quarantining. The majority of customers started staying away around mid march.

Now that customers are now coming back, there are first time gun owners who want to learn how to shoot.

From day one of training, safe use of firearms and ammunition is the number on priority, said Trent Whited, shooting range manger. 

Training starts in the simulation room with laser weapons with no possibility of a person shooting themselves. They have been open for nine months without a single accident, Whited said.

Everyone has to master the basics of gun safety before they move on with training. 

Besides ammunition and firearm safety, the shooting range has a special air management system that helps protect customers and staff from the effects of lead. The range is only used when the system is working, Whited said.