Jamie Franks of Top Shot fame, on his first AS experience.
In the early months of 2010, I had just returned from a 7 1⁄2 month Afghanistan
deployment. One of my best friends tells me about a local upcoming rifle
tournament. He said it was free for military, and asked if I would be interested. I
had never done any real competitive shooting at that point, and I figured since it was
free, it would be a good opportunity to find out how my skills would stack up in a formal
competition environment. He signed us up.
Around the sign-in table there were old men, guys that looked like beginners, and even a
couple of young pre-teen girls! I thought to myself “What kind of tournament is THIS?!” We
signed in, and received our information packet, and I found out that this was some sort of
marksmanship class, not a tournament. I was there, I had all my stuff, and I might as well stay.
Our instructors talked about earning the ‘Rifleman’ patch, and shooting the “AQT” (Army
Qualification Test). The course of instruction was deceptively simple, and seemed to revolve
around the use of the old-school GI Web Sling. I showed up with my tacticool AR-15 and my
VTAC Tactical Sling, and a combat deployment under my belt…and the entire course is going to
be shot at 25 yards! The instruction seemed elementary, deceptively simple, and quite honestly
below my skill level. I thought to myself “I’m going to blow this out of the water, and show these
guys a thing or two.”
I had paid attention to the instructors’ training, but I was still doing my own thing, convinced
that the modern military techniques that had been taught to me were superior to these
antiquated ways. I was using my tactical sling, and my old habits and I was shooting pretty
good, in my opinion.
The first day of the Appleseed ended with me being very discouraged. I was only able to
score in the 170s. I had to endure seeing several skuzzy civilians (whom I considered to be
lesser marksmen than I), earn their Rifleman patches with pride!
The second day of the Appleseed, I was determined to earn my Rifleman patch. I really
had to put my ego aside, and cast off everything I thought I knew, and resign to the fact
that I DIDN’T know everything after all. I picked up one of those antiquated, outdated GI web
slings, replaced my high-speed tac sling with it, and started applying the techniques that
had been taught the day before. My score instantly shot up to around the 200 mark. I was close.
I was doing a lot of things wrong (that I didn’t even know I was doing wrong), and I started to
realize that if I applied what they were teaching, in the sequence that they taught it, it
made for a remarkable improvement.
225! I got it! I am a Rifleman! I was humbled, but at the same time extremely thankful that I
had gone through this course. It pointed out mistakes in my training, and deficiencies in the
marksmanship training that most military members are receiving nowadays. It showed me that
no matter what your skill level is, and no matter how much you think you know there is always
more to learn.
As Creasy said in the movie ‘Man on Fire’: “There is no such thing as tough. There is trained
and untrained. Now which are you?”
Try the Rifleman’s Challenge. It’s not as easy as you think.
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