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Sept. 11, 2001

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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.



I’ve been hearing for years from friends I respect about the Appleseed Project, which is a two-day weekend program (though you can get a lot out of just one day) that teaches dual lessons of American History and riflery. The history focuses on April 19, 1775 and the events that surrounded “the shot heard ‘round the world,” in a humanistic detail that you rarely see in history books. The riflery focuses on standard military marksmanship doctrine, circa early 20th Century – and I don’t say that as a slap, because that doctrine makes a very solid foundation for “modern techniques” to build upon.

The objective of the program is to reawaken the United States as a nation of riflemen, and to imbue all the independence and responsibility which that concept implies. The course I just came home from was held at Hernando Sportsmen’s Club in Hernando County, Florida. I was most pleased to see how many young people were there, boys and girls alike: as simplistic as it sounds, the fact really is: “The children are the future.”

A large and dedicated cadre of Appleseed disciples was there to supervise the marksmanship training and deliver the powerful lectures. As a firearms instructor myself, I always watch how others teach the gun. To a man (and woman) the Appleseed trainers were patient, sharp-eyed, super-safe, and respectful of all students of all ages. From the technical side, I found their corrections were always on point.

In the course of 500 rounds or so, attendees were drilled on safety, fundamentals of marksmanship, and three shooting stances. Offhand (standing without artificial support), a more solid choice such as kneeling or sitting (with the latter recommended, and several optional postures shown), and the most solid position for precision hits, prone (on your belly). The targets ain’t easy: an Army L-silhouette shape from chest to rounded head, and not very big at all. The shooting at a basic Appleseed is all from 25 meters, which sounds like easy short-range gunning until you realize that the tie-breaking center “V” ring is the size of a 24-ounce Coke’s bottlecap on the target that represents the 100 yard silhouette…is completely covered by a dime on the target that represents the 200 yard target…about the diameter of the base of a 9mm pistol cartridge on the mark that equates to 300 yard shooting…and comparable to the diameter of the standard eraser on a number 2 pencil on the target intended to duplicate 400 yard marksmanship.

The 5-point zone surrounding the tie-breaker ring, shaped a bit like an inverted “V,” is a bit bigger, but not much. 100 yards is duplicated offhand, 200 from sitting, and 300 and 400 yards from prone. With 5 points possible per shot, some 40 shots fired, and double value for the “400 yard” duplicator, 210 out of 250 possible points are required to earn the coveted Appleseed Rifleman patch.

Does that sound tough? It IS. Yet I saw some fine shooting from the 20+ attendees, many of them kids, a total group half or less what normally shows up for an Appleseed in this venue, according to lead instructor Trey Dawson.  Of our contingent, only 4 of us earned the patch, but all I talked to were eager to come back…some to try again to earn the patch, and all to move up through the organization’s well-structured instructor ranks and help promote one of the best ideas that has surfaced of late in the encouragement of individual rights and heritage. In an upcoming entry, we’ll talk about the guns, the accessories, and the hardware you’ll need. Meanwhile, know that kids or women can attend for free, and info is available at the Appleseed Project website.

We had a great crew of safety officers and coaches at the Appleseed. Orange hats denote range officials, while red caps mark the senior instructors.

A line of rifle shooters at Appleseed.

Appleseed staffer Mike Larney uses a dummy gun to demonstrate the use of the loop sling to stabilize the rifle in any shooting position.

4 of the 20 or more shooters earned their Rifleman patch at Hernando. Here they pose with their targets.

39 Responses to “APPLESEED”

  1. Eric McCabe Says:

    One slight correction-
    The ‘Orange Hat’ denotes an Appleseed Instructor-In-Training (IIT), someone who has volunteered to instruct, yet has not progressed through our rigorous quality control standards to ‘Full Instructor’ status, which is denoted by the “Red Hat”.

    One of our IIT’s, Joe Hooten, is also a range officer for HSC, so this may have caused the confusion.

    Was a pleasure to share the firing line with you, and look forward to meeting you again.

    Eric McCabe
    Florida State Coordinator
    Project Appleseed

  2. Wiley Says:

    Greetings Mass!

    I had NO IDEA who you were when you were on the line this weekend. I would like to say thank you for “Stressfire”, “In the Gravest Extreme” and “Hit the white part”. I picked these up in the early 90’s when I was but a lad of 21 and had just gotten my CCW in FL. They were excellent tutorials that led me to translate printed word theory into physical skill with my Springfield 1911. I have never had occasion to draw and use my weapons, and I am extremely grateful for that. I am also grateful that you, among many mentors, have put me in a position that if I had occasion to draw, that i would be worth reckoning with. I am glad you and Gail enjoyed yourselves on the line. We hope to see the two fo you again and good luck in your future endeavors.

    IIT Appleseed Project

  3. Jonathan Says:

    Mr. Ayoob,

    Thank you for writing such a great article about Appleseed. I was able to attend one this past weekend in Dulzura, CA and was very impressed by the quality of the instruction and the instructors. The event was a nice balance between training and presentations on American History. I would highly recommend anyone to attend one – they were able to get me to shoot better by the end of the day which is no small feat in itself!

  4. ZerCool Says:


    Thanks for the kind words about the Appleseed Program. I stumbled into it almost two years ago and have enjoyed most of the program, including working my way up to Instructor. (Clarification of your caption: Full instructors wear the red hat; Instructors in Training wear the day-glo orange. Some of the motivation in working through the structure is to get rid of the day-glo hat.)

    I would like to point out one item, though – active-duty military also shoot for free. To me, this is even more important than the women and children, as so many of our military are going in harm’s way regularly. I have had the privilege of instructing some of the men and women from Fort Drum, and there was a military-only Appleseed hosted by Fort Stewart, GA. There are more in the works. I have heard from the men and women I worked with, most of whom took the information back to their units, and the word from the field is: “It works!” I cannot imagine receiving a greater reward.

    And one final bragging point: ALL of our instructors, from the greenest “orange hat” to the crustiest Master Instructor, are volunteers. We don’t get paid in anything but personal satisfaction and pride.

    Thanks again, and hope to see you at a New York shoot someday.

  5. Tim McCreary Says:

    Before I let my M1A1 Bush rifle go, I used to practice that Appleseed drill about once a week. Tough to make the grade, particularly in the time frame. Great practice, improved my marksmanship a great deal. Never had anyone around to verify my scores. Now that I’ve got my .44 and 30-30 Marlin’s I’m going back to practicing even thought the 300 and 400 yd distances don’t make a lot of sense for those caliber’s the discipline necessary to hit those sized targets will still be helpful. Aim Small, Miss Small!!

  6. Clinnon Alexander Says:


    It was a pleasure having you and Gail with us at the Hernando Appleseed last weekend.

    When I was growing up, schoolchildren were trained in American history and government. For many of us, rifle marksmanship was also taught. Since then, several generations of Americans have come up with little or none of that education.

    We support The Appleseed Project as a means of restoring our remarkable and unique American heritage.

  7. CCD Says:

    This is a wonderful idea, thanks for posting this. I’ll be sure to spread the word.

  8. Massad Ayoob Attends & Reviews Appleseed! - INGunOwners Says:

    [...] Ayoob Attends & Reviews Appleseed! From one of the greats in the Gun Community: Massad Ayoob Blog Archive APPLESEED [...]

  9. JH Says:

    Great Writeup, Mas.

    For all those interested. The Appleseed website can be found at

    -JH (IIT- Appleseed Project)

  10. Stu Strickler Says:

    I’ll be hosting one on my farm near Williamstown, Missouri on 17-18 April, 2010. We held one here last March and it rained, but we had a great time.
    Thanks for a great story, Mas!

  11. Douglas Cowan Says:


    If you need some help with that rifle that was giving you a problem, let me know. I love tweaking these little rifles and it would be my honor to work yours over. I know exactly what the issue is.

    Hope to see you at another Project Appleseed event soon.

  12. Mas Says:

    Appreciated, Doug, but I think you’ve already fixed it! Thanks again,

  13. Jim in GA Says:

    Dear Massad, You did a great service to the Project in both attending and getting the word out through the web. Your “endorsement” means a lot to those who value your insight, and the Project is, I’m sure, extremely appreciative. This IS our Heritage, but many have no interest in keeping our Heritage alive and well–it is up to us all who are informed and “awake” to spread the message. Those who have answered the call to duty are some of the most honorable men I’ve had the fortune to meet.
    Shoot, Recruit, Educate, Communicate!

  14. P.M.Lawrence Says:

    “…the most solid position for precision hits, prone (on your belly)”.

    That isn’t the most solid position for precision hits, because there is at least one other that is even better for that: supine (on your back, with the butt tucked into your armpit and the rifle resting on the bent leg on that side, which has its ankle tucked under the ankle of the other leg, which is straight and lined up with the rifle). It was developed during the Boer War, and works best with sights along the top of the butt.

  15. James Says:

    Though I haven’t attended Appleseed, I shoot competitively (service rifle) and I would just like to say its really great to see this program out there and available to folks. Great idea, and from everything Ive read about it over the past couple years its sounds like its a big hit! Keep up the great work!

  16. Fred Bartlett Says:

    Dear Mas: Can you recommend a sling type that easily allows the “loop” sling? I use a Brownell’s Latigo sling that is great for the normal hand/arm stabilization through the sling, but it is on a rifle “old Mini-14″ that does not allow a quick release swivel, at least at the front of the rifle. I guess I can put a quick release at the rear of the stock. Thanks.

  17. Mas Says:

    Fred, Google “Brownell’s” and you’ll find competition-quality loop slings (as opposed to carry straps or tactical slings). Also, go to the Appleseed site linked in the blog entry, and follow it to the event nearest you. The local host can tell you whether they’ll have GI surplus loop slings on sale at the event, as they did at the one I attended, at reasonable prices.

  18. James Says:

    Fred – Also look at Creedmoor Sports or Champions Choice.

  19. Captain Bob Says:

    Great write-up. PLEASE be sure to continue to add more info on the guns & equipment/ammo used/needed to participate. I’ve been thinking about attending an Appleseed for several years but can’t get anyone to go with me. Having your input will make it easier to go alone, which by Gosh, I will do now this year.

  20. George Says:


    Great to hear you made it to an Appleseed! I have had a fantastic experience shooting with them and recently became an Instructor In Training. I think it is great for families, I have seen entire families including mothers and daughters on the line alongside their fathers and brothers.

  21. BDG Says:

    Nylon USGI type sling is available for sale in the Appleseed store located at for $12.50 each + shipping. These are the same slings that Instructors typically use (unless they already have canvas versions!)

    They only come with one hook though, so you can only attach one end to the rifle. If you want both ends attached to the rifle, you’ll need an extra hook. Buy two slings and have a spare. :)

  22. publica Says:


  23. Willy Says:

    Went undercover (first post), huh? (smile)…. Great story, Thanks!

  24. Van Says:

    I attended my first and only Appleseed on my birthday last May in Van Etten NY, I am proud I made rifleman then. I am sad I have gone no further in Appleseed since then but hope to in the future.

    Thank you Mr. Ayoob for bringing some positive light to the Appleseed.
    Van Cronkhite
    Miami, FL

  25. scuzzy Says:

    One of the nice things about Appleseed it that they recommend using a 22 rifle. That is a heck of a lot cheaper to shoot, but everything you learn using a 22 applies to all other rifles. You can shoot whatever you want though, I just can’t afford anything other than 22 nowadays.

    I went to an Appleseed about a year ago. I thought I was pretty dang good before going. Then I saw what shooting was really all about. Those guys were good! I learned quite a few things.

    It was nice that the wife and kids could shoot for free too. I’ve been back several times since. Not just for the shooting either, but for the company of some really good folks.

  26. AzRon Says:

    Mas Thank you for the great write up! BTW what was your score?

  27. Mas Says:

    Ron, I wound up with a 229.

  28. Militant Libertarian » Appleseed Says:

    [...] by Massad Ayoob, Backwoods Home [...]

  29. Harvey Hams Says:

    I got this one through a friend who got it through Lew Rockwell’s blog. Some of our guys on the are Appleseed instructors. Now I’m what you would call a fan of your’s and read most everything you write. Good stuff here.

  30. GaurdDuck Says:

    I got my Rifleman’s patch at The RWVA home range in Ramseur, NC in October. As a matter of fact, Wildman (on the appleseed forums) is the range caretaker and has a WWII style sniper course there once a year if you are interested. I made rifleman with a score of 220. Someone crossfired on my target or it would have been higher. Theirs were far from my half inch group from sitting. I had a score of 50 in standing which the shoot boss said he’d never seen before. lol

  31. Kidglock Says:

    Good on you Mas !! High speed Low Drag is one thing , but ya gotta have the basics down FIRST .

    I just built a Liberty Training Rifle and it is a HOOT to shoot . Having been to an Appleseed way before the ammo prices went out of control , I have to say the LTR is the way to GO .

  32. Ken aka kilogulf59 Says:


    Glad to hear you liked AS and are behind the project. I’ve been promoting it for several years now but, due to health, have yet to get out. This year I’m scheduled for to meets in Wisconsin and now have my oldest daughter going with me.

    As a matter of fact many AS instructors are members of my forum and Sam Damewood who is really into the project moderates the AS board there.

    For more info on the project check out Sam talking about it on YouTube…Samuel R. Damewood on The Alex Jones Show”The Militia”1/7 – There’s 7 parts…well worth listening to I assure you.

    Also, Old Glory made this moving video on their training the 1st Battalion 178th Field Artillery at Fort Stewart, October, 2009

    GOD Bless The People Of The RWVA/Appleseed!

  33. N.U.G.U.N. Blog Says:

    For those with the Mini14 and sling issue. I used a “carabiner” to connect to my Ruger 10/22 which features the same sling ring.

    Which also happens to be too small for the standard GI clip on the sling I borrowed.

  34. FLASH GORDON Says:

    Bonnie an I attended an Appleseed in early November where the outcome and instruction was far different. There were only two instructors for about 22 shooters and the pace was so fast that the instruction was very poor. We left the Appleseed, discouraged, injured, baked, dehydrated and with a resolve never to return.

    Women, kids and relatively new shooters were simply allowed to fail. One boy of about 10yo kept telling his Dad “I want to go home!” It was a shame to see it happen but the pace was so fast that it was almost impossible to keep up. The Dad was involved in his own shooting, and the boy seldom hit the backing cardboard. The worst was that they saw him failing but rather that slowing the pace and providing instruction, they just let him fail! It was not Dads fault for the kid’s failure. He should have been TAUGHT by Appleseed staff!

    Bonnie and I are old and needed some accommodations to help us. We couldn’t drop into positions like the young instructors could but were told that changes disqualified us from shooting “Rifleman”. I maintain that if a person confined to a wheelchair shoots the scores from his chair, he gets the patch. Appleseed does not see it that way.

    We shot for 9 hours in the blazing Texas sun without a break. The early November weather was still broiling. Our lunch was snatched as we could and the “pace” was relentless. If you failed to “get it” or failed to succeed, you were left behind.

    I do NOT recommend taking kids or women to an Appleseed unless they know all of the basics, require little or no instruction and have the constitution of a Navy Seal. People who needed extra help were simply allowed to fail. If you needed a break, you missed a stage of instruction.


  35. Mas Says:

    Flash, I’m sorry that you were disappointed in your experience with Appleseed. I can only say that we were at two profoundly different events. At the one I attended, the instructors/range staff bent over backwards to help the newcomers and kids in particular, and those with physical problems got compensations such as being allowed to start in position rather than drop into it, though they had to hold their fire until the rest of the line began shooting.

    At ours, we had an ample lunch break that included an excellent lecture. Each lecture point is an opportunity to grab a snack and rehydrate. We also got one additional break each morning and afternoon.

    After reading your comment, I looked up the November ‘09/Texas after action report on the Appleseed website, and noticed that there was no range cover. This, of course, is dependent on how the host range is set up. At ours, we had a roof, and while we had heavy rain on one day and cold wind on the other, and you had blazing sun, the roof certainly did help in our case.

    Thanks for your observations. I hope you’ll give Appleseed another chance, perhaps at another venue with covered firing points.


  36. FLASH Says:


    I’ve been reading your articles since…….well …..a long time. I respect you and humbly suggest that respect is why you had a wonderful experience.

    We were on a rock hard Texas cowpath facing into the sun and shooting into a dirt embankment for 9 blistering hours without shelter.

    I have a Masters in Trade and Industrial Education and am certified as a technical instructor by NCCER, ASE, PADI (Divemaster) and have secondary teacher certifications in Oklahoma and Texas. Nothing that happened at that Appleseed could be termed proper instruction! We were shown what to do one time then sent to the line without practice or coaching. Those who “got it” were lucky. The rest were allowed to fail.

    Speed was emphasized foremost and if a lady or a kid didn’t understand what was expected, they just failed in frustration. There was no slack cut for anyone.

    In normal instruction, speed comes with proficiency and practice. There is no point in ramming more down student throats if they didn’t understand the previous lesson.

    I tried to relate these things to Appleseed and they slammed the door on me. The organization will not accept constructive criticism and that is what I am most concerned about.

    Bonnie was disqualified from shooting for “Rifleman” status due to her disability accommodations. The lady is a High Master shooter at 200 yards! She had the ability so why deny her the thrill of attaining Rifleman status because she had major back surgery?

    I arrived at the event crippled with joint pain in the left elbow and asked to shoot from a bipod. I was denied permission to use the bipod and by noon of the first day had to withdraw from the event. My elbow swelled up like a softball and was laid up for weeks afterwards!

    Bonnie pushed on and I observed the firing line intently for about 5 hours. What I witnessed was very disturbing.

    MAS, that treatment of inexperienced shooters is just crazy and any suggestion that an event like that will build our sport is crazy, too!

    You suggest that we try another Appleseed. I don’t think that’s a good idea.


  37. Went To The Range Today To Prepare For Appleseed « Fait Of The World Says:

    [...] it was yet another event that I would probably not ever make it to for distance.  After reading a few blog posts from Massad Ayoob, as he recently attended his first Appleseed, I realized that these events were [...]

  38. Appleseed April 17-18: 5x In. Events (Nashville/Cloverdale/Evansville/Wabash/FtWayne) - INGunOwners Says:

    [...] out these articles about others in the industry think of Appleseed after attending our events: Massad Ayoob on Appleseed Swat Magazine SC National Guard, Ft. Stewart, GA Link 1 , Link 2 For those who have been to an [...]

  39. Appleseeds of Life & Precision | Your Optimal Says:

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