Red Deer gun owners stocking up on ammo

Hunting and fishing shop owner says tough to say how much COVID-19 has to do with sales surge

Business has been brisk at a Red Deer sportings good store, with a steady stream of customers looking to build up their ammunition stocks.

Dave Malin, owner of The Sportsmen’s Den, said the COVID-19 virus — which has been behind a big spike in gun and ammunition sales in some U.S. jurisdictions — is likely at least partly behind the buying spree.

“I’m sure a little bit of that is because we’ve been selling a lot of buckshot and slugs, too. So I imagine it has a little bit to do with that.

“We moved a lot of SKS stuff,” he said, of the Soviet semi-automatic rifle. “Our SKS ammo, we had a run on that.

“We’re doing a lot better than normal, I would say. (Compared with) normal sales, I’d say probably three times as much.”

Malin is not reading too much into the uptick in business. Many customers are just looking to fill in gaps in their ammunition supply. A few might have been looking to spend a little of their tax rebate cheques as well, he said.

He suspects a few farmers are building up their ammunition supply to give them something to do during self-quarantining. After a few days or weeks stuck in the house, a little gopher shooting might help break up the monotony, said the gun store owner.

Malin said he’s ready if demand continues to be high.

“I’ve got lots of ammo, so I’m not too worried about running out.”

Red Deer Shooting Centre has also experienced more traffic than usual.

“I can say we’ve been busy,” said employee Cody Marryat. People have been buying a “little bit of everything.”

How many customers had COVID-19 in the backs of their minds is impossible to say.

“I’m assuming some of it’s related to that.”

Derek Bostock, owner of the shooting centre, said they are always busy and it’s hard to pinpoint whether anyone is coming in because of the pandemic.

Bostock believes less attention should be focused on gun sales and more on getting more police on the streets to protect the city during these “trying times.”

Across Canada, results seem to vary. Some hunting and fishing stores are seeing more gun buying, but others say it’s business as usual.

Wes Winkel, head of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, said there has been an “extreme surge” in domestic sales.

Part of that is likely due to hunters and other gun users trying to get their orders in before the pandemic hits the supply chain from the U.S.

With files from The Canadian Press

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