This weekend's shoot was my first live marksmanship instruction course and my first Appleseed event. I arrived early to find that I was one of the only participants who wasn't an instructor, as more participants started showing up I found that I was not only one of the only students I was one of the only first time Appleseeders. I got a lot of help from Ethan and his dad when the other instructors were working with other first time Appleseeders down the line, they gave me the same answers and suggestions as the instructors would have given, even though they weren't wearing an orange cap.
My first redcoat target was dreadful, my sights were off about 3" to the left and an inch low, I hit the 100 yard target and missed the others, I did manage to hit the headshot but only because I missed another target by just enough to hit the headshot. After shooting a couple sighting squares I got the sights zeroed well enough to be productive the rest of the day.
During the sighting in process I learned that I was doing the respiratory pause backward, I'd take a breath and hold it then squeeze the trigger before exhaling, my groups significantly improved when someone coached me on when to squeeze the trigger. I improved my form in the prone position by putting my elbow directly underneath the target, holding the trigger back after the shot and shifting my body to achieve NPOA.
I learned a little bit about the off hand and sitting positions too, but these are the positions I've done most of my shooting in the past so I felt pretty comfortable before hand. NPOA is one of the main things I took away from the instruction in these positions, I've always used my muscles to hold on target in the standing and sitting positions rather than finding my NPOA. My offhand group on the first greencoat target was better than Ethan's by a few points and he was wearing a rifleman patch!
I promptly forgot what I'd learned about form in the prone position during the AQT and watched my sights move diagonally across the target without giving it a thought until cease fire was called. My AQT score was 171, which I thought was pretty respectable considering I only fired 2 shots from the sitting position before cease fire was called. If I'd changed mags faster and gotten 5 more shots off consistent with the first 2 shots I would have scored about 190. I know that I could have improved my score by quite a bit if I'd had time to shoot another AQT target knowing that I need to shoot the sitting stage faster and taking a little more time to work on my form in the prone position on the final stages.
I regret that I wasn't able to shoot again on Sunday, I feel a little cheated that I don't know the story of the 3rd strike and I missed out on a whole lot of useful practice and instruction on Sunday. I'd really like to attend another event later in winter or this spring. I'd planned on carpooling with two women who are friends of my wife, but they ended up backing out at the last minute. I spoke to one of them yesterday and both she and her husband would like to attend an event in the spring ,I hope I'll be able to join them.
As I mentioned above, I'm a scout master and I think this would be an excellent opportunity for the boys to learn some of our American heritage and marksmanship skills. Unfortunately the BSA has some rules that are a little restrictive. First, Scouts are only permitted to shoot under the instruction of a NRA certified rifle instructor and when on the range must be supervised by an NRA certified Range Safety Officer. I don't know what the requirements are for the RWVA certification for instructor and safety officer or if they could be substituted for the NRA certification. My gut feeling is that unless RWVA starts working with the scouts directly at the national level I don't see them recognizing RWVA certification [I am personally frustrated with the way the scouting program is run at the national level as well as locally, unless BSA can profit (financially) from an event they generally don't support it.] Instructors would need to have both NRA and RVWA certification to supervise Scouts, which may or may not be true of the current instructors and range officers. Second, Scouts are only permitted to fire single shot .22 rifles, which isn't a huge concern, although a semi-auto or at least a bolt action repeater is more practical. That said, our troop is first and foremost a youth group sponsored by our church. We do have flexibility to participate in activities that do not fall within the BSA standards and I don't think it would be too big a deal to get permission to make the event a church outing rather than a scouting activity.