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BURNETT COUNTY—If you shoot a .22 pistol or rifle, it’s not news to you there is an ammunition shortage.

“The .22 is the largest selling caliber of gun in the country,” Mike Henrickson, owner of Big Mike’s Outdoor Sports Shop, said. “You can find ammo for it out there, but it’s tough — the ammo companies know how tough it is to find and are gouging buyers.”

Mike Jensen of Grantsburg, agreed.

“There is more ammo out there than in the past month or so, but the suppliers are charging premium rates,” he pointed out. “You can find it but prices are up to $90 or $100 a brick compared to about $20 a brick last year.”

A brick contains 500 rounds of ammunition. A box has 50 rounds.

“The ammo is on back order,” Henrickson declared. “I keep ordering it every week and when I do get some I don’t know if it was last week’s order or an order from October.”

Roger Wood, proprietor at Backwoods Beer and Bait, is in the same boat.

“It’s hard to get,” he said simply. “I do have standing orders in with a couple of suppliers — they tell me I’ll have it by hunting season.”

Henrickson said even when he does get a shipment, there’s a limit on how much people can buy.

“They don’t want people hoarding it,” he reasoned.

Like Jensen, Henrickson said other caliber ammunition is not as difficult to obtain.

“Nine millimeter and .44 caliber aren’t as difficult to find,” he said.

Jensen agreed.

“I saw a similar situation with the 9mm as with the .22, but the price on 9mm has come back down recently,” he observed.

On a personal note Jensen, an amid sportsman, is in the same quandary as everyone else.

“I just shop for the best prices I can find — either local or on-line,” he said.

The bad thing about online is the customer has to pay the shipping fees.

“It’s a little steep to ship all that lead through the mail,” he deadpanned.

Jensen, one of the instructor’s of the youth .22 league at Grantsburg Rod and Gun Club, said there’s a simple explanation for the shortage of .22 ammunition.

“The ammunition companies can’t keep up with demand — it’s been this way quite awhile,” he explained. “The prices have gone up exponentially the last couple of years — it’s to the point where it is cost prohibitive for the gun club.”

He was referring specifically to the youth .22 league, a league where students, starting at age eight, go to the range to learn gun safety and hone their skills with a .22 rifle.

“The youth league uses about 20 bricks of ammunition for the 6-week program,” Jensen said.

The $1 the gun club was charging participants, who use a box of ammo a week, doesn’t come close to covering the costs of the ammo, which has increased to $10 a box this year compared to $3 a box last year.

It was to the point where the gun club issued a letter in May seeking donations in order to continue the program.

“We have donations of both money and .22 caliber ammunition,” Jensen said. “To the point where we have enough for this year’s league, which started the last Thursday in June and will run five straight weeks starting zThursday.”

But what about 2015?

“If the cost of the ammunition remains the same, we’ll have some tough decisions to make about dissolving the league,” Jensen predicted. “We can’t keep asking people to dig deeper in their pockets.”

But he does see light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’ve seen prices starting to drop in the last two months, so it gives me hope,” Jensen concluded.

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