I finally made it to my first Appleseed shoot! A project of the the 501c3 non-profit Revolutionary War Veterans Association.
Over two days outside, in December, in the ‘shire, I became much more proficient with a rifle. I also became more knowledgeable about some of the inspirational individuals faced with tough decisions, who were responsible for some of the history-changing incidents in the 1770s.
I didn’t grow up around firearms. I am most-proficient with handguns (I visited Front Sight four years back) and have been open carrying for a while (here, here and here). My use of rifles is pretty much restricted to a solitary visit to an outdoor rifle range with a friend in MN and a week and a half at the range when I was an intern with St. Paul PD (for more read this essay). Yet, becoming better marksmen is definitely something for which I have an affinity.
It’s not that I derive pleasure in pulling the trigger per se, more that I view it as a skill that will necessitate me bettering my capabilities in several areas. Also, it brings with it many tangible benefits – many of which are applicable to other areas of my life, some that I may need to rely on someday as I strive to become more self-sufficient.
John Barnes, “shoot boss” at the event, definitely met RWVA’s stated objective of “teaching two things: rifle marksmanship and our early American heritage.” A few of my personal take-aways:
- the rifleman’s cadence: get my sight picture, close my eyes, breathe in, exhale, open my eyes. Am I still on the target? If so I’m golden. From then on out, after every exhalation I’ll have a good shot. Breathe. Squeeze the trigger. Repeat for a good tight, group on target.
- the importance of having bone, not muscles, supporting and splayed out in contact with the ground, bearing my weight and proper alignment of the rifle. Muscles fatigue. Rather than depending on my muscles to keep me on-target get my body set so it’s natural orientation is on-target.
- ensure my trigger finger is not laid on the rifle itself but is curved, much like it’d look if I were playing the piano. If not done, when I squeezed the trigger my finger my finger would drag along the rifle and negatively impact my accuracy.
Present on both Saturday and Sunday was James P. Patterson, a photographer with the Valley News. He must have taken a couple thousand pictures. On Sunday writer Sarah Brubeck jotted down notes as we laid out and attempted to internalize and showcase our improved skills.
From her write-up:
“Ready to the right? Ready to the left? All ready on the fire line?”
Everyone remained still.
“Fire!” he bellowed.
Eight shots rang out in rapid succession. When the silence returned, the group got up and walked down range to see how they had done.
A little while later, Pete Eyre and Austin Reida, both of Keene, N.H., examined their targets.
“How’d you do?” Reida asked his friend.
“Well, I didn’t get four shots out because I had a stovepipe,” said Eyre, meaning an empty shell casing had jammed the weapon.
“Yeah, that stuff always slows you down,” Reida said. “How was your accuracy?”
“Pretty good, I think,” Eyre said.
“I shot a 243 on that last one,” Reida said excitedly after checking his score.
“Are you serious?” Eyre said.
“Yeah, it’s my best,” his friend said.
“That’s the best score I’ve ever seen,” said Roger Ek, another instructor, after tallying Reida’s score.
“Really?” Reida said. “Well, it’s due to your coaching.”
Everyone present shot .22’s – we each threw 800-900 rounds downfield. What cost 50FRNs in ammo would have been 1000+FRNs for a .308. Not to mention the impact on the shooters body. In addition to ammo costs, I paid 70FRNs to Appleseed plus 2.50FRNs for online convenience for the course, plus 10FRNs/day to the range. Also factor in gas and food costs.
I’m into lifting weights so I viewed it this way: get the form down then add the weight. Over the two days at the Appleseed shoot I learned and hammered-home the form. With a solid foundation I can perfect this skill. I’m looking forward to my next Appleseed shoot.
Big thanks to Austin for bringing me alone and to the folks associated with the Enfield Outing Club who not only hosted the event but made us feel welcome (thanks for the awesome chili!). Looking forward to seeing your club grow.
- Enfield, NH Dec. 10-11, After Action Report by “Shoot Boss” John Barnes
- “‘Appleseed’ Teaches Rifle Skills, History” by Sarah Brubeck (photos by James M. Patterson)
- ‘A’ Was For America: My Journey to Voluntaryism some personal background
- Appleseed locations events held throughout the states
Pictures from the Valley News:
- Louise Pressler reacts as John Barnes tells her she has achieved “rifleman” status
- Beth Russell, of Francestown, N.H., reacts to her “Redcoat” evaluation target at the end of the Appleseed Project’s recent weekend shooting course in Enfield
- Appleseed instructor Roger Ek of Lee, Maine, walks down the line of shooters checking technique as they call their shots on the second day of the Appleseed shoot
Roger Ek takes a closer look at Pete Eyre’s T-shirt, on which the word “liberty” is printed in 29 languages
- . . .The exercise is designed to train shooters not to flinch in anticipation of the shot.
- Pat Ek of Lee, Maine, who has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a nerve disorder, fires her .22-caliber rifle from her wheelchair during last weekend’s Project Appleseed event at the Enfield Outing Club