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June 26, 2008

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The Flood of ‘08, Shooting and the Price of Gas

I planned to spend Father’s Day filling sandbags. Fortunately the Iowa River floodwaters crested earlier and lower than anticipated and the city told volunteers to take the day off. This was great news for my sore back and even better news for Iowa City. Barring more rain, we’ve seen the high water mark of the Flood of ’08. As the waters recede, it will be time to clean up and calculate the cost of the flood, which may run to billions.

What does this have to do with shotguns? Well, because my house sits high and dry on a hill, the main cost of the Flood of ’08 to me is this:  due to the road closures and detours between home and the club where I shoot skeet, the 70 mile round trip is now 150 miles one way. Even if gasoline were free I wouldn’t want to make the drive very often. At $4 a gallon it’s not happening. I’ll wait for the water to go down.

Having to re-think my drive to the gun club reminds me that I’ve often wondered how far other people regularly travel to shoot. I don’t have any idea what the average distance is, but I do know that convenient access to a ranges is very important to recruiting and retaining shooters. So I’d like to take a poll: how far do you have to drive to the gun club, and will $4 gas mean fewer trips to the range for you this summer? 


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Well Dave, I travel about a half a mile to my other property were I have a 300 yeard rifle range and plenty of room for skeet :)

Dr. Ralph

I can shoot a .22 or shotgun in the backyard but it wouldn't be prudent to fire off a center fire rifle. That's an hour drive no matter which of three locations I choose. Price of gas has little to no affect on my habits so far but ammo is crazy... I have to buy for three when I go. I don't reload and am shooting much less except for the RWS pellet gun which is taking more than the usual number of inexperienced squirrels, crows, blackbirds, and sparrows.


5 mi. one way to BLM land where I can safely set up for 600yds. The only interest I have is rifle and pistol, I only use a shotgun for hunting or close range pest control, while at home. The price of gas will not make any difference in the amount I shoot, which is 200-300 rounds per month.


A farmer I know has a lot of land in riverbottoms on the Illinois side of the Mississippi, north of Quincy, IL. In the flood of 1993, as is the case this year there were billions of dollars of losses due to levy breaks. When the Army Corps of Engineers were in the planning phase of rebuilding the levies, this man's grandfather, who had now seen his farm go under water due to levy breeches 3 times in his life, suggested to the engineers building the levies a few feet higher. He was told no can do, that would cost a billion dollars and they could never get the money to do it. Now, 15 years later, here we are with another 500 year flood, many billions of property and crop damage, and any chance of our government taking pre-emptive measures this time? Sorry, no can do.


On the topic, I live in the country and am fortunate to have plenty of space for small caliber rifle, bigger caliber if you are careful, but mostly trap shooting. We try to share the wealth by letting my so invite friends, one at a time, to participate as much as we can. Nothing makes a teenage boy's eyes light up like the first time he turns a clay pigeon to dust, and I am glad to keep loading since in most cases these kids are better in a few minutes than I could ever be.


I too am fortunate to have a 100 yard range with a large hill for a back stop right behind my home in Michigan. I shoot rimfire and air off of my back deck at 25 and 40 yds. Also coons and possum at varying ranges! So the fuel cost is not a factor directly, but the cost of supplies, ammo, targets etc. will be impacted upward as higher freight costs are passed on to end users. Not a healthy factor for our economy as a whole, that is for sure!


Come on guys we can afford the gas! We're republicans! We eat meat, run large companies and hunt big game! My Hummer gets 10mpg but I can easily afford my deer lease that's 400 miles south baby (Nuevo Leon anyone!). Quit bitchin girly men!


I live 12 miles from Benchrest rifle Club, which has 600 yard rifle, 50 yard pistol, clays, 100 yard rimfire and an archery range. So, the gas to get there is min, but the cost of ammo has limited me on my shooting. I use to buy 9mm from wally but the cost has doubled in the last year. I use to reload 5 to 10 thousand rifle rounds a year and about 5 thousand pistol. I went to place my "bulk" order and found that it was going to cost me triple what it had cost me 2 years ago. That is what is limiting my shooting.

Jim in Mo.

Are you talking Benchrest in Mo?
Its about 50mi from me. Thought of joining this year but dues have doubled since pres. decided to buy land and increase size without members permission. Heard it almost got him sued.

Dave Burch

I am a 15-minute drive from the Holmen (WI) Rod and Gun Club, one of the two best clubs to which I have ever belonged (the other is the Arlington Sportsman's Club, in the Dallas area where I grew up). Wisconsin is blessed with a strong gun culture, outside of Madison and Milwaukee. Small cities, villages and rural and forest areas are strongly pro-gun up here. It pains me to think that some of these good people may be swayed to vote for Obama, if John McCain can't convince them that he can improve our economy, succeed in Iraq and preserve our gun rights at the same time.

There was a time long ago when a deer hunters' train ran from Milwaukee up to Hurley in northern Wisconsin every year. Hunters rode the train north, stayed in Hurley or some nearby camp, and walked into the National Forest every morning to hunt in November. The staggering cost of operating an SUV and an ATV and buying a lease should make some of us think hard about some similar means of holding down the cost of hunting. A pack frame and good boot leather might be the only means for Joe Six-Pack (me!) to hunt deer in the near future. . .

Jim in Mo.

Dave Burch,
That deer hunters camp and train ride sounds like fun. Good comradery. Wish it could happen today as it did then.
But there's no way. Some outfitters organization would find a way to slap a $2000 fee and plus, plus, plus.
Isn't there a old country song 'Are the good times really Gone', or something similar.


It is about a mile and a half to our shooting range from my door. We have it marked out to 600 years. Good target boards all the way. I mostly shoot shotgun at small critters for either meat or pest control for our lake dams. A place to shoot is a real nice thing these days.

Jackson Landers

I walk about 20 paces to the meadow next to my house and blast away.

Sometimes, it is good to be rural.

Now, driving to work and the grocery store is another problem altogether. But at least I've got the shooting situation nailed down.


$4 a gallon! $5 a gallon! The average price of unleaded petrol here in the UK today is GBP 1.17 per litre. That's the equivalent of USD 10.58 a gallon at today's exchange rate. You guys still have a looooong way to go!


who knew you lived in Iowa?

Ricardo Rodríguez

Here in Mexico Gas is about 2.8 Dlls per Gallon and my club is 10 miles from my home where I can shoot silouhetes from 25 to 500 meters and skeet. Unfortunately, the only three places I can buy ammo (two if I want centerfire pistol or rifle ammo) are 45 miles in the other direction, and the box of 50 .22lr are about 6 dollars, and centerfire rifle ammo around 35 dollars each box of 20.

Ricardo Rodríguez

Ah!, and congrats on your SCOTUS decission!


For a rifle range in the back yard, is a giant pile of dirt/clay the only option for a backstop?

Rocky Mtn Hunter

I am fortunate that I live our in the boonies.Can shoot any gun from my back yard. Have a l00,200,300 yd range that can shoot any of my guns. But, if going to town,gas does cost a bundle. Today hit 4 bucks a gallon, will be 5 bucks by Christmas I'm guessing. Amo has gone sky high and continues to increase. My hunting Ammo is over 50 Bucks fo 20. Needless to say I buy cheapo for pratice. Hoever, the ammo to hunt with is the cheapest item I use. If can;t afford the best ammo available, then I better stay home. Lucky so far, only have taken one killing shot in so many years I frgot the #. Just lucky hit I assume, but pratice does improve your sklls, and good equiptment is a must.


The closest place by me is about a 40 mile round trip, but i make it at lleast 4 tim,es a week.

tom sharon

how about flash? then you have flash gordon.

mike rightnowar

ammo prices and gas prices have got me choked.i drive 30 mile round trip to my shooting range and thats really not that bad unless your fresh out of ammo and you have to stock up on that too.i have to drive three times that to the hunting woods, so my pre season scouting is narrowed down to nada.ive went back to zeroing the guns a week before season then go sit on my crossing with three or four other people i diddnt know about till day light and pray the deer somehow get to me without being detected by every outa stater that marks my crossing with jerkey wrappers and beer cans.

Clay Cooper

With the price of gas as it is, I’ll be spending a lot more nights camping out more.
mike rightnowar has a point, every outa stater that marks my crossing with jerky wrappers and beer cans makes me want to think should we open season on them. Yep! Getting tired of that gomer too at 9am opening day comes dinking around thrashing thru the woods and stops right under my stand and yells, “have you seen anything yet!”

WA Mtnhunter

Gas prices sure have strained the hunting budget for my 1,200 mile trip to Colorado. I used to moan about the high cost of motels in the area, but now fuel is #1. However, the motels in NW Colorado have skyrocketed with all the oil and gas exploration and drilling in those parts.

We never seriously considered camping due to the extra fuel required to pull a camper that far. My preference has been to take those fuel dollars required to pull a camper and apply that toward a moderately priced motel. But that may change at $5 a gallon.

The doofus' tromping around your "spot" is the reason I will continue to hunt private land. My deer and elk hunting week is too precious to be spoiled by the gomers.

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