Why you should never shoot all your ammo at the range

We have a family rule. Never shoot up all your ammo at the range. I finally got my father to tell me the story that led to that rule.

Cast your mind back to deep, dark wilds of Los Angeles County in 1965….

Every one of us has had a moment in our life that we will never forget. A life lesson that not only changes the way you do things but cause you to preach to your family, mostly to your children. I just found out my moment has been labeled by my kids as, “Never shoot all your ammo at the Range”.

I was newly married, had just turned 23, and decided that my wife, also 23, needed to learn how to shoot a pistol. You have to understand that I didn’t know a thing about pistols, I had never even shot one. I had recently purchased a Llama 380 had shot the gun one other time, expending every last round. My wife, a British Subject who had never seen a pistol before had managed to out shoot me so I had keep shooting trying to at least do as well as she had. It didn’t work. I ended up shooting up everything and still not matching her.

We were going to the range again. It was a Sunday and I had to buy some ammo on the way there. As we drove down the street, almost at the store, I saw a low rider car with four latinos inside pull a “Swoop and Squat” in front of an 18 wheeler. The trucker avoided smashing into the car by running over the curb into a large parking lot surrounding the White Front Store (Sort of like a Wal-Mart, but in Los Angeles in the ’60’s). I was also forced to dodge into the same parking lot and came to a screeching halt, blocked by the truck and the driver of the car who was advancing on the truck driver with a bat.

I yelled at my wife to go get the guard in the store. Back then White Front hired armed guards. I jumped out and saw the trucker had a tire iron, the driver of the car had a bat, and two more of the car occupants were exiting the car. Screaming and threats were being thrown around and I thought I was going to witness a beat down if not a death.

I grabbed my gun, jumped out of the car and lay across the hood with the gun pointed right at the man with the bat. I yelled,

One more step and I’ll shoot you.

He looked at me, told me to mind my own G. D. gringo business or he would take care of me next. His friend was half way out of the rear seat so I asked him if he wanted to be first. He jumped back into the car.

I do understand certain Spanish words and as the bat wielder ran back to his car I am think he passed judgment on how old I was when my mother got married, plus a few other choice words.

At this time I glanced towards the store and I see my wife, in high heels and a sheath dress running towards me at full speed. Behind her I see a man in full guard regalia running but loosing ground to her. Picture this, he is about 50 lbs over weight and everything, Gun, baton, handcuffs were all flapping up and down as he ran and he is making noises like a steam engine.

The Latino men called my mother a puta one more time and peeled rubber for yards as they sped away.

So the moral of the story is. Never shoot all your ammo at the range. I had a totally empty gun. What if they had called my bluff?

That started the family rule. Whenever you took a gun to the range, you always kept at least one full magazine, one full cylinder, or a couple of rifle rounds for every single gun you had. It’s still a practice I follow today. I might not be able to get to the Super Bambi Blast-o-Matic in the trunk while on my way home from the range, but you can be sure that if I need to put a .243 Win round into a ne’er do well at the Han-dee Hugo’s, I have the ammo to do it.

You never know when you might be called on to use a gun to save a life. Wouldn’t you be happier if your gun was loaded at the time?

19 responses to “Why you should never shoot all your ammo at the range

  1. Yikes! Glad that all worked out well, and that’s a good lesson to pass on to everyone!

  2. Sean,
    Interesting. I follow the same rule, though I came across it without having your father’s exciting experience. I always leave my carry ammo in the magazine, and shoot the range ammo at the range, then reload with the carry ammo before leaving the range. If I plan to change out carry ammo, I shoot the old stuff up, then reload a cleaned magazine with fresh carry ammo before shooting the range stuff. Either way, I always go home with a loaded gun

  3. PolyKahr: this was in the days before hollowpoint ammo was common. You practiced with the same ammo you had in the gun for home defense. Also, in 1965 Los Angeles, concealed carry wasn’t even a possibility that people even considered.

  4. I do the same, I unload my carry ammo when I practice and reload when I leave. With the way the carry laws are written here in Iowa, I also keep a full mag in one of my AR’s, behind the seat.

    The people that think I;m paranoid have never needed a gun. I needed one twice, one time I didn’t have one and I paid the price for it. The other time I had one. It only takes one time to teach a important lesson.

  5. I’ve met some pretty kooky people out at the [no range officer] public range, and have always brought at least two guns–the one I’m planning on shooting and one that will stay concealed the whole time.

  6. I agree 100%. bluesun, that is the exact reason I chose to buy a membership at a private range. The public range I used to go to at a nearby state park has been taken over by bangers and is no longer safe, or fun to be at.

  7. Great advice and something that my family does as well. I’m sad to hear about the bad experiences at public ranges, though, Max & bluesun. The nearest public range here (at a state wildlife management area) is wonderful. We’ve met tons of nice people and have always had a good experience.

  8. Good advice, going to share this story with friends.

  9. i follow the same rule also, i keep one full mag for each gun i own at home.

  10. people who shoot at the range are honest sportsmen, when we leave the range its the real world. bad guys see you leave the range and know you are in possession of some sort of firearm,so then the evil gun owner gets robbed .always carry to protect your own!!

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  12. I always think of that scene in Silverado where Scott Glenn get jumped after shooting all his ammo.

  13. I simply have more than one gun on the range… my carry gun IS NOT SHOT. I have a duplicte I practice with and only shoot the real carry gun now and then (but with the OTHER gun then the carry gun till I clean the ‘real’ carry gun.

  14. The bad guys of the Miami/FBI shootout got their guns by taking them away from people at informal ranges out in the countryside, after they had shot all their ammo. Most they killed.
    A concealed gun would be a very smart thing to have.

    BTW, shooting the last magazine dry, and then reloading with your carry ammo, is nearly as bad as having no ammo. ALWAYS keep a loaded mag, and preferably a loaded gun. Maybe you need more mags?

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  16. If the deadliest sniper in American history (Chris Kyle) can get killed at the range then anyone can. I always have my P32 ready to go in my pocket regardless of what else I brought to shoot. I only practice with the P32 when I have another pistol reloaded and attached reassuringly to my hip.

  17. Matthew Carberry

    I do the mag and carry ammo rotation at home. If I’m shooting my carry gun the “carry” mags for that period of time stay loaded and on me in their pouches at the range, the mag and round that were in the gun go in a pocket put back in for the trip home as soon as range rules allow.

    The remarks about ranges, even private ranges, being no more a “safe zone” than any other public place are gospel truth.

    Mags are a consumable in the long-term. It pays to have 2x your normal carry loadout so you can cycle them and hopefully catch any malfunctions at the range, not “the street.” Plus if you use the gun at a class you can reload less often, save time and thumb tissue. 🙂

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  19. I was given my first pistol at 8 years old and I even knew then to always keep 2 full magazines. I never kept one int chamber until I was in my early 20s as it didn’t feel comfortable. I’m 32 now and always carry with a full mag +1 in the chamber. I was taught at an early age about firearms and safety. I have never had a mishap, so I believe teaching kids at an early age is a must.