Well, I FINALLY got the chance to attend an Appleseed Weekend this past weekend!
For those of you who might not be familiar with what the Appleseed Project is all about just click the link - I'll summarize here but I strongly encourage you to spend some time on their website doing some reading and finding out what it is all about and if there is an Appleseed weekend headed your way!
The Revolutionary War Veterans Association (RWVA) has the Appleseed Project that is intended to teach you the skills you need that will make you a true rifleman (or woman!), not just a rifle owner. Many of us have rifles, but few of us actually practice with them like we should - few of us ever really learn the how, the why, the what about our rifles and shooting skills that will improve our marksmanship abilities.
In a weekend, these volunteer instructors give 115% of their time and talent to teach you everything they know that will make you a better marksman with your rifle. Even if you've been shooting a rifle for years - I guarantee you'll learn something new or a better way of doing things at an Appleseed that will make you a better marksman.
You will be hard-pressed anywhere else to find the level of high-quality instruction that is present during an Appleseed weekend. And you cannot beat the pricing - Appleseed weekends are currently FREE to Women, Children under 21, Active Duty, Guard or Reserve with ID. For everyone else, it is $45 per day or $70 for the weekend if you register in advance. Many of the weekend shoots sell out, but check to see if there is any last minute "pay at the door" availability if you find a way to go to a shoot but didn't pre-register.
Not only do you get some very top-quality marksmanship instruction, much of it one-on-one - but you will also learn more about the history behind the founding of this great country - the importance of rifle marksmanship skills during the times of our founders - and the sacrifices and significant events that built this nation. Things I guarantee you never learned in school and probably haven't heard before. Important things we all need to know and pass along to the generations coming after us.
If you attend an Appleseed weekend - you'll be in the company of other fine citizens there to learn and in the company of fantastic instructors there to teach. The instructors have all been through many phases of training and have shot many, many Appleseed weekends themselves before earning their instructor hats.
This past weekend our group was full of men, women and children all eager to learn everything they could to become better marksmen and to learn and share information about the great history of our nation. Some had been to previous Appleseed weekends; others were attending their very first one - but we all came away with lots of great marksmanship practice, a better understanding of our history and much improved shooting skills.
You can find a List of Things to Bring and Ways to Prepare for an Appleseed weekend at the link - just click on the wording and you'll find what you need to know to get ready.
Now for some details about this past weekend (26-27 Jun 2010). It was hot. I mean super hot. Temps around 95-98 with humidity making the heat index each day way over 100. We had a grass area for shooting and a covered area for magazine re-loading and lunch break - but we were in the sun the majority of the day. Everyone was a trooper in the heat - even the children - which was amazing.
So, when you review the list of items to take with you to an Appleseed weekend - make sure you have plenty of fluids for hydration. Even if you don't go during the heat of the summer - you are going to be working, concentrating, walking, shooting - you will be active the whole weekend and you'll need to stay hydrated. Not staying hydrated will affect your vision, will give you headaches and will take away from your concentration and you won't be able to do your best. So bring plenty of water and electrolytes. For food, bring light snacks that you can munch on all day to keep your energy up. Most people had lots of fruit, granola bars, energy drinks, jerky, chips, light sandwiches - but nothing too heavy.
Appleseed weekends are held all over the country - you can visit this Appleseed Schedule link to find out if there is an Appleseed weekend coming up near you.
I've had a decent amount of experience shooting handguns, but not a lot of practice shooting a rifle. So I was anxious to learn and improve my rifle skills. Trust me when I say it pays to already know a bit about your rifle - how it works, how to safely load and unload it, how to adjust your sights, have a sling for your rifle - it will save you time working out kinks on the range that is time much better spent practicing your skills.
I had taken my Ruger 10-22 that I've had forever - only to find out that it really didn't fit me well (stock too long) and I ended up using another .22 that was graciously loaned to me by instructors KYJam and her husband, Brad. If I already spent some time really practicing with my rifle, I would have known it didn't fit me well enough for an entire weekend of shooting.
We had a first-rate group of instructors - Mudcat was the Shoot Boss with his family of instructors assisting, Brad and his wife KYJam were a great team and Rich was there for his first Appleseed as an Instructor. The first thing they had us do was to shoot at a target they call the "redcoat" target. Without any instruction before shooting, this gives the instructors a good feel for where everyone is on the learning curve.
Then we got down to business learning just what makes a good rifle marksman - six steps to firing the shot, how to use a sling properly, shooting while standing, shooting while sitting, shooting prone, transitions from standing to sitting and prone, how to make sight adjustments - lots and lots of information expertly taught by instructors who truly care that you understand and learn the information so you'll be a better marksman.
One thing I really enjoyed was the fact there was no competition among those in attendance. The only person you were ever "competing" against was yourself. Always working to make yourself better - relaxing into the sling, learning how to breathe, concentrating on the front sight, learning trigger control and follow-through, learning not to "muscle" the shot, finding your natural point of aim (NPOA) - everything it takes to make you a better marksman no matter the target distance.
Although I didn't earn my rifleman patch this weekend, I came really darn close with a 202, 205 and 209. I thought it was going to be a reality - but I kept dancing around the magic 210 number and then had a scope failure on the last qualification target - so it wasn't to be this weekend. I'll definitely go for it on another weekend though! My husband did get his - it was his 2nd Appleseed and he shot a 222 twice in a row to earn his patch.
I can't say enough good things about the Appleseed Project. If you haven't been you absolutely must go. And take all your friends. Those you know love shooting and those on the fence about it. Those friends you know have a rifle they never shoot. Your wife and your wife's friends. Your boyscout or girlscout group. Your 4-H group. Your hunting buddies. Your girlfriends. The guys or girls at work - EVERYONE needs to see what this program is all about. And I can't think of a better way to introduce our youth to rifle marksmanship and our heritage than to take them to an Appleseed Weekend.
I'm hooked for sure - and plan to follow the instructor program just as soon as I get my Rifleman patch.
Here are some photos from the shoot this past weekend - thanks to the instructors who took these shots and graciously allowed me to re-post them here. Now, when you're done looking at these photos- head on over to get signed up for an Appleseed Weekend!
Instructors timing AQT:
KYJam - The Six Steps:
The Firing Line:
D - Sitting:
D - Prone:
N - Standing:
Lessons In History:
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