Thanks to all the folks who ran the shindig. Considering the effort involved to pull it off and the cost charged to participants, it is clear that it is a labor of love for those that made it happen.
I talked a buddy of mine into taking an Appleseed rifle marksmanship course that ended up being held near Davilla, TX (east of Temple) on 10-11NOV of this year. He has shot pistols for a few years, but was relatively new to rifles.
The goal of the physical/performance training was to be able to shoot an old-school Army Qual Test (AQT) at the Expert level (210/250 possible points). The targets used were similar to the D-Prone targets with the "2" scoring area removed. All shooting was done at 25m, so the targets were all reduced to simulate their ranges. (http://www.letargets.com/html/general_targets/rt-d.jpg
The Quick & Dirty AQT consisted of:
1. Standing; 10 shots; 100m target
2. Begin standing, go to sitting to fire; 10 shots on two different 200m targets
3. Begin standing, go to prone to fire; 10 shots on three different 300m targets
4. Prone; 10 shots on four different 400m targets
Time limits, mag changes, and position changes were tossed in to spice it up. There was a little more to it, procedure-wise, but that is the gist.
The means used were repetition and demonstration of the elements of a rifle shot, shooting positions, breath control, trigger squeeze, sight picture etc. Essentially, the basics.
What this was not was a MOUT/CQB/tactical carbine sort of class. The instructors drilled proper technique to place shots on target.
The goal of the indoctrination was to get the attendees to take up the whole "Nation of Riflemen" creed. More on that later.
I was the only oddball with the boltie that I could tell. My rifle was a Swedish Mauser in 6.5x55 that began its life in 1908 at the Gustav factory as a 96 and was re-arsenalled into a 38 at some later time. The only mods I made were a standard issue (US Army) black web sling, a Mojo rear aperture sight to replace the rear leaf, and an extra tall front sight that I filed down so that I would zero at 100 yards with the rear Mojo in the middle of its elevation adjustment. Ammo was commercial Privi Partisan 6.5x55 139gr soft point. I had a potful of 5-round stripper clips.
I would estimate that he commonest rifle was the M14/M1A in .308. The next most popular was the AR15 in 5.56mm. The remainder consisted of M1 Garands, Comblock (SKS/AK/7.62x54R semis), & Ruger 10/22s. My buddy had a borrowed RRA AR15 with backup iron sights installed on the picatinny rails on the receiver and gas block. His rifle was reliable unitl the second day, when it required the forward assist to properly chamber on a mag change. FWIW, that sucker was TIGHT. It had not seen much use.
I wore the same 5.11 pants I wear to mow the lawn & work around the house. (No, I am not making like a tacti-handyman. I bought them for ~$10 on sale and they are comfy & tough.) I wore an undershirt and on overshirt made by Jerkies, the 549 Heavyweight Cotton Shirt (http://www.Jerkies.com/catalog/images/products/549KH_LG.JPG
). Footgear was the older issue jungle boots. I also had knee & elbow pads from Home Depot.
Everything from t-shirt & jeans to utility trousers and the popular shooting jacket.
The range was on private property and was improved by the owner--at his expense, I believe--to be useful for the Appleseed. It was enirely satisfactory to the demands. Through some sort of black (water) magic, the pota-potties did not stink, even when inside them.
Let's face it: engaging in the shooting sports is a political act, nowadays. It is one that can get you time in prison in some states in the Union for various reasons. The questions with regard to the Appleseed and any course are "How much political content?" and "What is the political content?"
The political headspace of the Appleseed organizers can be found below in Fred's Plan to Save America.
This was demonstrated in thrice-daily oratories detailing the history of Lexington, Concord, & Meriam's Corner that stressed the concepts of marksmanship and the willingness of ordinary men to do extraordinary acts.
The content was the basics and, therefore, no quibbles can be made. If you wanna hit the target at range, here is where it starts.
The week prior to the Appleseed, the RWVA had what they call a Boot Camp, where they trained the Appleseed trainers. You could tell that some of the trainers were green, but many were seasoned shooters. All were as helpful as their ability allowed and exhibited good attitudes.
It was the usual firehose, content-wise. You suck up as much as you can, take a breath, and come back for more. The instructors were very willing to help, but there were not enough of them to go around to address all the shooters' needs. I suspect this is the nature of the game, given some instructors' limited experience, the varying levels of the students' experience, and the number of students to instructors.
Towards the end of Saturday, I was all shot out. Sucking up recoil from a centerfire, non-gas-operated rifle as well as eating muzzle blast from AR15 rifles with muzzle breaks three feet away finally overwhelmed my ability or desire to learn and I was sending rounds downrange to no purpose. Something similar occurred on Sunday around noontime. My buddy and I decided to pack it in during lunch break, as sending commercial 6.5x55 and Black Hills 5.556mm downrange could no longer be justified. We were no longer learing, just doing.
I was at a bit of a disadvantage, equipment-wise, relative to the semi-auto shooters. First, I shot a bolt gun. Second, my sight radius was shorter. Third, my mag/stripper clip capacity was 5. Fourth, some of hte training was inapplicable to bolt guns. Despite this, a bolt gun is a valid tool when learing basic rifle marksmanship. Ultimately, what I didn't accomplish was attributable to ME and not my equipment.
It was a pretty well-run affair. They made it work. What some of the instructors lacked in expertise, they made up for in good attitude and willingness to make stuff happen.
A fine group of folks to spend a weekend with.
I was interested to see just how "revolutionary" the RWVA was, if you know what I mean. I was re-assured that the general political feel was not internet-forum bluster and/or "shoot the JBTs." There may have been a subtext, but keeping the context in the Revolutionary War, support for the COTUS, and the "Nation of Riflemen" can easily be taken at face value by all but the most schemeing of minds.
I declined to participate in one bit of fantasy, the "Jump into a time machine, go back to Concord with your centerfire rifle, and shoot the hell outa the Brit officers and the approaching grenadiers." Such might be a fine concept for anovel, but I like to keep my firearms training on the ground and not in a flight of fancy.
CONCLUSIONS & LESSONS LEARNED
1. An Appleseed is not appropriate for a new shooter who is ignorant of the effort required to get into the proper shooting positions and such. This sort of approach works fine for volunteers to military service, but the usual civilian will likely balk at such a steep cost in comfort & tension if they have not yet developed a love of shooting. Take that new shooter to the range, teach them safety, and let them have some fun before subjecting them to this sort of experience.
2. Do the pre-Appleseed training if you have the time. I could have saved time and more profitably spent my range time if I knew beforehand my seated position was ate up like a soup sandwich. This is subject to reality. In my case, I had spend three of the previous six weeks on business travel and the other three working late. My livelihood and mariage came before Appleseed prep, so I spent my few free hours with family.
3. Well-worth the $70 fee.
4. Do your research. The Appleseed forums will help to steer you in the right direction.
5. Figure out if the Appleseed you plan to attend will be strcitly a 25m affair or will have longer range work. If it will all be done at 25m, think seriously about leaving the centerfire rifle at home and buying & fitting out a "Liberty Training Rifle" Ruger 10/22 as described here: http://appleseedinfo.org/smf/index.php?topic=32.0
It is essntially a 10/22 with quality aperture sights, a usable sling, and a few other little mods to make it more easy to manipulate.
For the cost of the 400 rounds of the centerfire ammo I bought, I could have bought and put together such a rifle. If I ever convince my wife to do an Appleseed, this is what I will do for her. If I do another "25m only" Appleseed, it is what I will do.
If you will have shots at range, an AR15 would be preferred. They are not my favorite rifle type, but they are generally lighter, handier, and have less recoil than a M14 or M1 Garand...or my Swede. It will get the job done under the conditions and will be less taxing on the shooter.
6. Buy the "Freds Rifleman Package" which includes a shooting jacket, Fred's Guide to Becoming a Rifleman, and targets. I did not do so because I am a big boy and it is likely the largest (2XL) would not fit.
The jacket has integral padding in all the right places. This helps prevent scraped up elbows, pain, and such. The first time you try to transition and get your sling caught up in your elbow pad, you will wish you did.
I plan to hunt this winter and really needed a rifle marksmanship refresher. It has been eight years since I left Uncle Sam's service and I have not done enough training with my rifles since then, IMO. The Appleseed knocked some of the rust off my skills and was a good time. I much improved my standing/offhand and realized that my sitting needs a lot of work, due to injuries I received that put me out of Uncle Sam's service. I have quite a lot of dry-fire in my future.
**UPDATE: Rx GLASSES**
I forgot to mention glasses, for those of us with less-than-perfect vision. If you wear Rx glasses, I would advise LARGE lenses not just for safety concerns, but to allow you more freedom when adjusting cheek weld. I found that many times my glasses would end before I got a good enough weld. This resulted in triple
vision, if my off-eye was also open:
1. Off eye
2. Sighting eye (with glasses lens)
3. Sighting eye (uncorrected).
Also, when really scrunched down in prone, slung up tighter than a drum and steady, my bolt would come V-E-R-Y close to my lens. Matter of fact, I gouged the heck out of my right lens when I wanted a bit more sunlight through my aperture & scrunched forward a bit too close. This is a function of:
1. Aperture size & location
2. My size-larger than standard
3. Stock length-milsurp stock are notoriously shorter than your typical modern sporter
RWVA (Revolutionary War Veterans Association)http://www.rwva.org/
Fred's Plan to Save Americahttp://www.appleseedinfo.org/as_freds_plan.htm
Less Positive View of an Appleseed Shoothttp://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=8&f=34&t=279910&page=1