Gun shops are reporting a surge in ammunition sales amid concerns of looming shortages and price hikes, as hunters heading for the hills are warned they could spread the coronavirus. The low Australian dollar is set to cause a spike in ammunition prices, while scenes of gun shops being stripped of stock in the US has led Australian firearm owners to begin stockpiling in case of shortages, dealers say.
A notice on the website of Toowoomba gun shop The Barn warns that “major ammo shortages and price rises (are) predicted to hit Australian gun shops”.
The notice adds that price rises are in effect due to the falling Aussie dollar, and some prices on the website are out of date.
NSW Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party leader Robert Borsak said people were “expecting pretty steep price rises”.
“Apart from powder, which is made here in Australia, everything else is imported,” he said. “Even the Australian-made ammunition is made from imported components. It’s all going to go up.”
Queensland Gun Exchange sales manager Matt McGrath said US panic buying and shortages had filtered down to supply concerns in Australia.
“The general shooting public here’s not concerned society’s going to break down, that they’re going to have to defend themselves or their toilet paper or whatever,” he said. “It’s a different mindset in the US. The biggest thing is people are concerned supply is going to run out.”
Others were stocking up in preparation to head into the bush to “isolate themselves that way”, he said. “A lot of people have said, ‘I’m just going to take my Easter holidays early and get out of town, head out into the bush’.”
Game Hunters Association of Australia president Steve Hall said he was aware people had been planning to “self-isolate” by going hunting. However, he had asked members to stay home.
“I’ve just shut down our club this morning and asked our members not to travel for hunts because it’s non-essential travel,” Mr Hall, based on the Gold Coast, told The Australian. “It’s about the people you come in contact with on the way in or the way out. Country towns don’t have this thing yet and we don’t want to be responsible for sending it out there.”
Clark McGhie, who operates guided deer hunts in Queensland, said there had been a move to people wanting to “stock their freezers”. Gympie gun dealer Ron Owen said he had been told ammunition manufacturer Hornady had “three years’ work to catch up before they fill the orders from the US”. “It would be the same for Winchester, for Remington. We’re at the end of the food chain.”