“Everybody is fighting for what is seems like a shrinking amount of ammunition out there,” said Lt. Louie Tirona, firearms and tactics instructor for the Richmond Police Department. Tirona came up with an idea: using professional-grade Airsoft guns for some of the training. “If we get to a situation where we’re low on ammunition, we can do simple drills with Airsoft that would mimic what we would do with live fire,” Tirona said. The Airsoft guns used by the department look, feel, and function almost like the real thing. They shoot small plastic pellets that still pack a punch. There is also another advantage, according to Tirona. “With Airsoft, its pennies compared to dollars with live ammunition,” he said. Tirona is also using laser firearms for scenario training. Another neighborhood that’s joining is Albany is in using Airsoft guns for training. “It’s become harder and harder to get the ammunition we need to train our officers on a timely basis,” said Albany Sgt. Dave Bettencourt. “We’re using Airsoft as an affordable option to try to maintain the officers’ skills.”
Some Officials said with some backorders for ammo stretching up to 12 months, they are not sure when the shortage will end. Other local departments that are training with real ammunition told KPIX 5 they are being cautious not to use too much.