Thursday, July 29, 2010
Nearly three weeks ago, I attended a two-day Appleseed shoot. The purpose of the Appleseed program is twofold: to impart a bit of American Revolution history and make known the sacrifices of many of its participants; and to train men, women, and children to become competent riflemen. Think of it as a history class with a lot of fun, extracurricular activities.
When I say train folks as competent riflemen, I mean just that. No benches were allowed, only firing at targets from positions supported by either the ground (prone) or the shooter’s own body (sitting, kneeling, standing). The only support aid allowed was a sling. Practically all firing was done at silhouette targets placed at 25 meters. The silhouettes varied in size to simulate distances out to 300 or 400 meters, IIRC. Although 25 meters sounds close, it was no mean feat to hit the targets, even from the most stable position, prone. More often than not, I missed them.
A number of different guns were in evidence at the shoot, with a fairly even split between .22 LRs and centerfire rifles. Most were semi-autos, but I saw at least one bolt-action .22 and one lever-action .22. The type of shooting Appleseed trains you for is definitely geared towards the semi-auto-type action. Why? With a semi-auto, you don’t have to break your firing position, and then regain it, after every shot to cycle your gun. But that doesn’t mean that just because you have a semi-auto you’re in like Flynn. I had my Marlin model 60 .22 LR, a gnat-drilling gun from the bench, and I still failed miserably. But I learned my weaknesses--practically everything--and I now know what to concentrate on.
Now that I have one Appleseed shoot under my belt—I’ll likely attend another sometime next summer—here’s some advice for you if ever attend one: One, make sure your gun is sighted dead-on at 25 meters. The class is fast paced and there will be little time to make adjustments if your gun does not shoot to point of aim already. Two, if you think you’re a good shot because you can make tiny three- and five-shot groups from a bench, be ready for an epiphany, and a humbling one at that. Three, as mentioned, the class is fast paced and a lot of information is given in a short amount of time. One instructor likened it to drinking from a fire hose. Four, come with an open mind and leave your preconceived notions behind. Five, if the weather’s hot, and it was for us, bring plenty of water, wear a hat, full-brimmed if possible, bring sunscreen, wear light-colored clothing, and bring a lunch and snacks. Six, bring a chair to sit in between stages. I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can think of right now.
All in all, I would describe the Appleseed shoot as a valuable learning experience, and certainly worth the $70 I paid to attend. (Women, kids, and active-duty personnel may attend free of charge as of this writing.)
P.S. My nine-year-old son attended with me on the first day, Saturday. He enjoyed himself, but it was a bit much for him towards the end of the day. In my opinion, twelve or thirteen would probably be the minimum age for a child to get the full benefit of the course.