CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — As Virginia’s hunting season approaches, there are concerns that an already strained market for ammunition could become even more so, putting a burden on local gun shops and residents who are looking to buy.

In 2020, gun sales throughout the commonwealth skyrocketed, breaking a record set in 2016 in just nine months. Roughly one year later, 8News spoke again with Southern Gun World owner Karen Ballengee, who said that ammunition shortages persist and could get worse as hunters look to gear up for the season.

“I’ve been racking my brain trying to get some ammo for hunting,” she said. “We haven’t been able to get any .410. We found some .270s, some .243, no .30-06. These are calibers that are very, very popular that they hunt with.”

With careful planning and having been in business for nearly 50 years, Ballengee said she has a relatively stable handle on the market and where to get the ammunition that her customers are looking for. But she’s limit purchases in some cases to make sure that every customer can get at least one box of ammunition when they buy a gun.

“Personally, my stock is very good,” Ballengee said. “I have not been able to get one box — much less one case — one box of ammo from my large companies in six months.”

Ballengee said that when she is able to restock, the boxes of ammunition have been costing her as much as 30% more than before the coronavirus pandemic and she expects prices to continue to rise.

“The ammunition itself, I think, as far as some of your bigger companies, of course, they’re getting ammo. So, with that being said, they get the ammo in today, the ammo’s gone tomorrow,” she said. “That makes a burden on the smaller shops because of the ammo being sold out so fast. It also puts a burden on shops like mine because I don’t have the body power to bring in $1 million worth of 9mm and sell it for $25 a box when our cost is $40 a box.”

Ballengee said that the ammunition shortage has become a crisis, straining local businesses, gun owners and law enforcement agencies. In addition to increased demand and supply chain issues, she said a lead shortage contributed to the problem in 2020.

“If it’s out there, we’re going to get it. If it’s out there, other people are going to get it,” she said. “I think the biggest thing for people to try to know is, you know, don’t get mad when somebody sells you a box, instead of a case. There’s a reason for that.”