Such news is difficult for me to believe. It’s a bit worrisome, too. I mean, if we can run low on .22 bullets, we can run low on anything. It would be ironic, too, if I were in the market for .22 bullets. Now that they are scarce, I could afford them. Back when they were plentiful, I struggled to come up with the price.
My dad bought a .22 single-shot rifle for me in January or February of 1952, a few weeks before my 12th birthday. It was a brand new Remington model 514. The number of rounds fired from that little rifle would surely number in the thousands. To take liberties with a famous quote, “If I had money, I bought bullets. If there was any money left, I bought food.”
In those early days, before I could get any sort of paying job, I was reliant upon my parents for bullets. I can remember searching every knick-knack drawer, every button dish, and every other possible spot and coming up with just one bullet. I went hunting three times with that bullet before I had a sure shot at a rabbit. I had other opportunities to fire at a rabbit, and under other circumstances I might have taken the shot, but I had just the one bullet. If I missed, I would go home empty handed. I learned to be conservative and take only the best shots.
On my wall, above the filing cabinet there is a framed target with holes neatly punched through the bulls-eyes. On the target is written the following, “Dear Granddad, I dedicate this target to you because you taught me to shoot. This target broke the camp record. There was one adult who shot better than me. The camp record has stood for decades. I got a necklace with a leather strap that had 3 beads on each side of a bullet. I love you a lot. Chad.”
At a high school reunion in Moab, a friend introduced me to his wife. He said, “This is my friend, Ollie. I had a .22 that shot fourteen times. Ollie’s .22 shot just once but he always got more rabbits than I did.”
Three or four years ago one of my sons came with two of my grandsons. They had a plastic gallon jar full of .22 bullets. They wanted to go out and shoot all of the bullets. I got my .22 pistol and the Browning t-bolt rifle that replaced the old Remington single-shot and away we went.
It was difficult for me to be a part of the wanton waste of so many bullets. My mind kept going back to that winter when I had just the one bullet. But, we blazed away until we grew tired of it. The plastic jar was still well over half full when we quit.
When I was approaching retirement, the staff where I worked asked Barbara what I would like for a retirement gift. She thought it over and said, “Buy him some .22 bullets.”
Interestingly, the high school principal retired that same year and the staff at his school gave him a pistol as a retirement gift. I thought it would have made a great headline, “PRINCIPAL GETS PISTOL, PSYCHOLOGIST GETS BULLETS.”
One of my sons-in-law in a neighboring state recently tried to buy some .22 bullets. The clerk said that they were out. He told my son-in-law that whenever an order of bullets came in, the manager would call his friends who would come and buy the entire lot. There is a sense of unease among those in the shooting sports, a feeling that they ought to be buying bullets while they still can.