Monday, August 25, 2008

An American tradition - Appleseed pt.1

Last Saturday, an instructor said to me, "Learning to be a rifleman at an Appleseed is like drinking from a fire hose." He wasn't kidding. I spent a lot of time saying, "Huh?" and "What am I doing?" and "Help!"

But by the end of the day, I could definitely say that I learned something.

Awake at 5AM and on the road before the sun was even up, Mike and I managed to arrive at Sandusky County Sportsman's Club on time. The instructors and organizers were mulling around, getting everyone signed in. I was bleary from the long, early drive on too little caffeine and even less sleep. I kept giving Mike the "I'm not sure about this" look because I was also slightly nervous. I'd shot a rifle less than a handful of times in my life (with a scope, no less - not the iron sights required for an Appleseed) and had never even shot anything at an outdoor range. I was in a new place, with new people, trying a new activity...well and truly out of my comfort zone, I chose to make the best of it. I would smile and learn and try to do everything asked of me.

There was a short briefing on range rules and safety, how to clear and ground your rifle, and the commands that would be given by the shoot boss. By 9AM we were on the firing line and my first Appleseed had begun. One of the instructors was nice enough to loan me his Ruger 10/22 for the day. It had the recommended sling and sights and since I was already familiar with 10/22s, I felt fairly comfortable using it.

Before we began shooting, I was given a quick lesson on how to properly use a loop sling. It felt tight and awkward but at the same time I could feel how it steadied the rifle and stopped the effects of recoil from changing my sight picture. I'd just have to get used to it.

We were told to go downrange, put up our target and load up our magazines. The first target of an Appleseed shoot is highly symbolic - the initial 13 rounds serve as a reminder of the original American colonies and the red (as in redcoat) silhouettes allude to how riflemen won our freedom during the Revolutionary War. Rifles in hand, we're all part of history and responsible for protecting our liberty.

Shooting from the prone position, first time with a sling and iron sights, I got all my shots on paper but with no evidence of consistent grouping. I did get some of my shots in the red and was told I had excellent trigger follow-through and body geometry, so I was pleased.

After a lesson on the other positions we'd be using we were back on the line, shooting a target designed to help us sight in our rifles. Then things started to speed up - we transitioned through standing, sitting and prone positions and combined those with mag changes. For example, we were instructed to fill one magazine with 8 rounds and one with 2. We'd start in a standing position, load the rifle with the 2 round magazine, transition to prone and then begin shooting. The first silhouette would get two rounds, then we'd do a mag change and shoot 3 more. Then we'd shift to the second silhouette and shoot the last 5 rounds. The focus was on consistently being able to find your natural point of aim and sight picture despite mag changes or transitioning from different positions.

I was becoming better at using the sling and my shots were starting to group. But the sun, high in the cloudless sky, was merciless. Finishing 10 rounds in a prone position, I cleared my rifle, put on the safety and put my head down next to it. I was so tired and hot. I opened my eyes and looked downrange - I felt a little dizzy and my vision wavered.


(stay tuned for pt. 2)


Msguy said...

I really hope to get to one of these in the next year or two.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Earl said...

Lemonade or apple juice with water and a larger hat? Sounds like the shooting drills were right on.

posterboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
homebru said...

I'll need to remember that line.

"You have excellent body geometry."

posterboy said...

sorry had to edit for typos

Breda and Mike ....It was a pleasure to have you at our appleseed ! Folks it was brutal hot out there and she wasn't the only one to have to walk off the line for a bit because of the heat and sun. Believe me when I tell you this ...BOTH of them can and will shoot the rifleman's score. They both have the ability and now just need to practice and apply what they were shown on Saturday. BTW you can use a scope at appleseed..we just encourage you to shoot irons if you can...kinda like driving stick..once you learn that you can drive anything.

It takes Americans that care that to get up off their easy chairs , give up all or part of a weekend to learn a fundamental but disappearing skill that founded this country. Breda and Mike Both fit the that description....

Bob said...



zercool said...

Glad to hear you're feeling better - the heat is nothing to screw around with, and hopefully we can keep that in mind at future Appleseeds...

I think it was mentioned already, but scopes are welcome - AS is truly a "run whatcha brung" shoot.

We had a mini-Appleseed here in NY this weekend (just shooting with minimal instruction, and that all informal one-to-one), and the line had several Garands, several 10/22s, three or four bolt .22s, and a couple ARs and SKSes. Irons, optics, it's all good. Once you understand the principles and techniques, you can shoot anything accurately.

We did some longer-distance shooting towards the end of the day, with a 6" popper out around 210 yards. It proved to be the favorite target of pretty much everyone, as the constant puffs of dust around it evidenced... and the numerous splatter marks on it.

I do hope you'll make it to another Appleseed and earn that patch... we need more Riflemen!

Fearsclave said...

After discussion with Zercool, I wound up taking the scope off my 10/22 and trying the Appleseed AQT with the factory irons.

What a humbling experience :). I'm quite confident in my ability to shoot it with the scope on, but the irons on the 10/22? Not anywhere near so easy.

What did you think of the Tech Sights on the 10/22 you were loaned?

zeeke42 said...

I'm sure Breda will respond later, but I'll throw in my two cents. The tech-sights are excellent and highly recommended. They provide a similar sight picture to every US military rifle since the Garand. (They're actually M16/AR15 A1 posts and aperatures on bases made to fit the 10/22.) They're accurate and easy to use, and all the practice transfers directly to the AR-15 (and M1/M1A/M14).

I've broken 210 on the AQT in practice with my tech-sight equipped 10/22. (Not at an Appleseed yet, but hopefully at the next one.) I think I'd struggle to break 170 with the stock 10/22 sights.

mad saint jack said...

Tech Sights???

Got a link?


I'm kinda a RedDot junkie.

mad saint jack said...

Where do you get "RedCoat" Targets?

posterboy said...

Mad Saint..

look under :New ! hits count 25m red coat targets in catalog

I suggest if anyone here is going to attend an appleseed to also purchase Fred's guide to becoming a rifleman and practice it's teachings and positions well before you go will make your body and mind less sore when you attempt to drink from the fire hose of marksmanship.


posterboy said...

Plus 2 on the Tech sights

If you have a 10/22 it will be the best $55 bucks you've spent. get the TSR doesn't have the rear elevation adjustment of the more expensive model but you really don't need that since a 22lr isn't going out to 500 yrds lol plus some have reported problems with the tsr 200.

tell them appleseed sent you

also if you go to the forums on you can get a discount code for Cheaper Than Dirt which sells shooting/surplus/ camping/outdoor stuff ( $10 off any order no limit to usage)

Every time you use this code for your order it helps the program.


Fearsclave said...

Zeeke42/posterboy: thanks for the input on the Tech sights. I'm sold on the AR/M-14/A1 sight picture commonality point alone; a couple of my other rifles are M-14's :).

I'll give CTD a try.

The Remittance Man said...

As a brit, I'm not sure I approve of the old red coated target and 13 colonies ... oops ... states thing (couldn't you make it French blue instead?). But everything else about this Appleseed idea strikes me as righteous times ten.

I just wished a few other countries still recognised the value of a free and armed citizenry.

Francis Marion said...

Brit, there's no need for blue-on-blue, er, red-on-red. To simulate the silhouette of the scaled 'redcoat,' just scale a head & torso, military type target, to simulate 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m firing ranges. Unless, of course, you have access to full distance 400m range; then make the targets life size.
If scaled right, the military target should be tad larger than 4 minutes of angle wide, and 4 MOA tall at 400m.
Appleseed is rooted in the American experience, with its attendant narrative, symbolism and history; but rifle shooting is the pastime of free people, irrespective of nation. Access to, and skill at, arms are liberty defining parameters for those who would know and exercise freedom, if you ask me. I certainly hope rifle shots punctuate and declare UK liberty for a long age to come.
Take a look at our Appleseed program, and pick out the useful material, sans the American history, which interests us far more than it may interest you folks.
It certainly takes shooting out of the realm of a privilege or sport, though, to contextualize arms keeping in the mantle of Liberty's Protector. To be sure, both the People and the politicians need to be reminded that the right to bear arms isn't a privilege.