A nation of riflemen...

By Jeff Williams | 05/05/09 | 01:22 AM EDT | 3 Comments

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For the last 18 months, I have heard about an organization called the RWVA (Revolutionary War Veterans Association) and have been interested in participating in one of their “Appleseed Project” shooting programs. Why? Simple. A friend of mine who is an ex-marine (and a very legit operator) told me that they are possibly the best civilian shooting instruction program available today.

I am a guy who has owned firearms for nearly 20 years. My dad was a cop. I grew up around them. I’m a lifetime NRA member. But owning a firearm and receiving instruction in it’s use are two completely different things. Since I purchased my AR-15, I have been hoping to learn from some of the best – I just didn’t realize how soon that might be.


The Appleseed Project’s website decribes their program as “designed to take you from being a simple rifle owner to being a true rifleman. All throughout American history, the rifleman has been defined as a marksman capable of hitting a man-sized target from 500 yards away — no ifs, ands or buts about it. This 500-yard range is traditionally known as "the rifleman's quarter-mile;" a rifleman can hit just about any target he can see. This skill was particulary evident in the birth of our country, and was the difference in winning the Revolutionary War.” 


Last week, by random chance, I surfed on over to the Appleseed Project website (http://www.appleseedinfo.org) and checked the schedule, only to discover that a shoot was on the calendar in my area, in less than three days! Unfortunately when I attempted to register, the event was listed as sold out. I made several additional email inquiries, and was told by more than one person to just show up, and if there was room, I could participate - and if there wasn’t, I could go home.


I almost didn’t drive out that Saturday AM. I am not a morning person by nature, and I was in my typical “it’s too damn early, I could be sleeping and need more caffeine” moods. Then, while engrossed in the breathtaking beauty that is the Clearwater River Valley – I missed my exit to the remote shooting range near Lapwai, ID and added an additional 20 minutes to my drive (and arrived late) I assumed the worst. Even if there had been room, I thought… it was surely gone now.


To that end, I met one of the gun club officers when I arrived, who informed me that they were indeed turning people away from the event left and right. I elected to stay a few minutes anyhow; I figured that I might just learn a thing or two by paying attention to the safety breifing, and it might give me an opportunity to shake hands with some of the people I had met via email, or meet a potential future instructor.


I saw some promotional materials on one of the tables, and as I took a moment to read some of them, I became quite dejected. Yes, I was going to miss out on a shooting class, but more than that, this really looked like something special.


As I was loitering around, one of the Appleseed instructors unexpectedly came up to me and asked me if I was wanting to shoot. I was surprised to say the least, but didn’t waste any time for him to change his mind, ran to my car and grabbed all my gear. Of course, within five minutes I had already been publicly chastised for the improper handling of my rifle inside the firing range and the first thing that went through my mind was that I definitely had a lot to learn. What may have gone through the minds of my instructors was likely something completely different (why didn’t we invite the NEXT straggler to join?) but regardless we moved forward and what followed over the course of the following two days will stay with me forever.


And when I say two days, I mean 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM of solid shooting, analysis, drills, lectures, shooting and shooting. This was not a course for the faint of heart. However, not only was the instruction very good, the whole program was wrapped in history and tradition, which was particularly appealing to my personal interests. The way that the story of April 19, 1775 and the start of the revolutionary war was woven and intertwined with our regimen of instruction was well done and entertaining, if not enlightening.


Every time I shot my rifle, I improved. I felt like a learning sponge all weekend long, just sopping up every bit of information that I could from the three amazingly talented instructors and fellow participants, which ranged in age from younger than 10 to older than 50, boys and girls, men and women. (Listen up, ladies shoot free!) 


Sometimes we got so much information it was a bit overwhelming. Often, my brain couldn’t process it all fast enough, and integrate that new data with my physical actions. By the end of day two, I was bruised, sore and exhausted. However, I had raised my AQT (Army Qualification Target) score far above the average score of a completely inexperienced shooter, but even though I did not earn my rifleman qualification, I was still exhilarated by the experience.  Not just because it was fun to truly learn how to shoot, but because Appleseed is a culture that seeks to awaken minds and uses marksmanship and history as the tools.


Like the t-shirt says… “I went to an RWVA Appleseed Shoot. I was there for the adventure, I was there for the rebirth. Those who can’t shoot have to cook. Former cook becoming a rifleman – it feels GOOD…


If you’re looking for an opportunity to participate in a shoot, there are at least a hundred events scheduled across the country, the complete schedule of which can be found here: http://www.appleseedinfo.org/as_schedule.htm


(Special thanks to my VOLUNTEER instructors… The Upsetter, Strat, and Silence and to the fine folks who run the Lewis Clark Wildlife Club near Lapwai, ID.)

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TAGS: appleseed rifleman riflemen RWVA


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3 Comments | Related Topics »Whitman County (WA)



500 yards.

500 yards is most impressive. Shooting is like welding, it is a skill that must be practiced often to improve it. Practice makes perfect. Sadly the only time I have for shooting is nailing the coyotes at or under 100 meters. I would like to do an 800 meter shoot.

Submitted by Satanic Mechanic on Tue, 05/05/09 - 11:53 AM » | Print

Great to see independent, positive reviews of Appleseed experiences.

Thanks for taking the time to write about your experience.

Don't neglect the 7th step... I hope to see you on the Appleseed firing line!


Missouri State Coordinator

Appleseed Project

Submitted by Greybeard on Wed, 05/06/09 - 09:50 AM » | Print
Saving america

I would like to thank all those that have attended an appleseed event and encourage the rest of you to grab a rifle and come on out. 

Before my first appleseed, I had zero proper safety training in the use of my rifle.  Now I am a very SAFE instructor-in-training.  I was inspired by the program to give back by volunteering.  When you see the fire in the eyes of the women, children, and men who come out to learn it is inspiring. 

I believe that america can and will be saved by Appleseed Instructors, volunteers, and participants.  How can this be?  Come find out.

al smith

Submitted by al smith on Fri, 08/07/09 - 09:49 PM » | Print

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