“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations…This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”- John Adams
Michael, Isaac, and I spent the weekend at Appleseed. We had been wanting to get to one of these events for quite some time, but for one reason or another, it had not worked out previously. We found out they were holding one just 20 minutes from the house, and so we jumped at the opportunity.
I knew that we would be getting instruction in marksmanship, but I have to admit that I really had no idea what we were in for. I just hoped that I would pick up some new skills. And we certainly did!
We showed up early and set up our spot. By the time the rest of the shooters arrived we had 58 people on the line.
They gave us our safety briefing and the first history lesson of the day. Honestly, I had no idea the event came with a history lesson also. I thought it was just rifle training. And I loved it. Bits of Revolutionary War history was taught all through the weekend. So many stories that you just don’t learn in school. Isaac is lucky that he didn’t have to wait to be an adult to hear those lessons.
It was cold and windy. We hung up some red coat targets and they told us to assume our preferred shooting positions and shoot them. I like to shoot prone and thought myself pretty decent. Hey, I could hit a 20oz Coke bottle at 100yrds with my AR, surely these targets at 25yds would be no problem at all. Heh. Had the British been invading on Satuday morning, I apparently needed them to be in shotgun range.
Thankfully, nothing was invading other than the cold, and there were skilled instructors there to help us out. First, they taught us what to do with a sling. Oh! So you mean it’s not just a place to put my rifle when I’m not shooting. And prone? Yeah, there’s more to it that laying down behind the rifle. And they taught us the 6 steps to taking a shot.
1. Sight alignment
2. Sight picture
3. Respiratory pause (not holding your breath)
4. a. Focus your eye on the front sight
4.b. Focus your mind on the front sight keeping it on target.
5. Squeeze (don’t pull) the trigger
6. Follow through
See guys! I was listening.
And we worked on sitting and standing positions and transitioning between them. Who knew a yoga/dance background would come in handy for marksmanship training? And we shot our first AQT (Army Qualification Test). I was feeling pretty good about it and counted up my points. Hmm, how does that 94 rank? Unqualified.
More instruction, more shooting, and then a break for lunch. We hadn’t thought to pack lunches, so we ate some of the MREs we keep in the car. Old Grunt (one of the instructors) told us about his MRE cracker challenge. He has a stnding challenge that he will give anyone $20 that can eat an MRE cracker in 5 minutes without any water. We knew better than to take ornery Rifleman up on his challenge.
The history lesson after lunch really explained the whole nation of rifleman concept. The men that fought the Revolutionary War were not soldiers. They were farmers and doctors, tradesman. They weren’t outfitted with any special gear. They just brought what they had in both skills and equipment. And they brought a lot of nerve.
They left their families to stand against tyranny. They were the nation of Rifleman, and it’s a tradition that many Americans have let slip away. Project Appleseed is working hard to honor those men and keep the nation of Rifleman alive.
The instructors pushed us hard, but they were right there and ready to help. They walked the line and checked our form. Colycat, the shoot boss, even worked with me one-on-one to help me get my natural point of aim on Sunday. Old Grunt sat down and worked with Isaac too and finally got him in the game. Everyone on the line got personal attention, and I believe everyone walked away having learned something. They helped us review what our targets were telling us and how to get better. By the end of Saturday, there were 5 shooters that qualified as rifleman.
We went home worn out and sore from all the standing to sitting, standing to prone, and just all the trips to change our targets between exercises. We slept hard and came back ready for the following day.
On Sunday, 35 of the original 56 came back. We worked hard and even shot when it rained on us a bit. 2 more shooters earned the coveted patch on Sunday afternoon.
Yep, that is me over there in the pink hat. Just squeaked by too with a score of 211. You had to score 210 to qualify. I was ecstatic. I pushed so hard on Sunday, and it was worth it.
This certainly won’t be my last Appleseed event. I highly encourage anyone to find one they can get to and go. The price is a bargain for the incredible training you receive. And the history lesson is phenomenal. Take your kids. They aren’t teaching this stuff in school. We owe it to our children to teach them where they came from. Particularly, where our freedoms came from. Those regular guys fought a long bloody war for it. The least we can do is get off the couch and keep the revolutionary spirit alive.
So, will I see you at the next Appleseed?