The heat had gotten to me and I was developing bruises around my arm from the sling, and on my ribs and hipbone from laying prone on the hard ground. (I need either a thicker shooting mat or a stack of cheeseburgers with a side of milkshakes to grow my own.) My muscles were starting to ache and I was exhausted. I had spent 8 hours shooting this rifle, getting excellent instruction and trying my damnedest, but I just couldn't get it. There was no epiphany for me, just a long struggle - with the elements, the rifle and myself. I looked at my targets, and then over at Mike's, and felt frustrated. And embarrassed - all day long I had been thinking of that other petite riflewoman from Ohio and "What would Annie do?" had been my mantra until I felt like I was dishonoring her memory. I sighed inwardly and pushed on as cheerfully as I could manage, preparing for the last target of the day.
And just when I was at my lowest and feeling pretty bad about myself, an instructor came up behind me and said, "In that standing position, you look like a real rifleshooter."
With a few kind words, I had been given a glimmer of hope - but an Appleseed is like that. The instructors are encouraging, knowledgeable and remarkably patient. Their love for rifleshooting translates into hours of consistent positivity and tireless assistance, even for someone as inexperienced as me.
The day after, when my mother saw how tired and beat up I was, she asked if it was worth it.
"Yeah,"I said. "It really was." I had an interesting new experience, learned so many things, met a lot of nice people and perhaps best of all, my husband now thinks that I'm a "tough chick."
In truth, my shooting wasn't too bad...
I started grouping my shots, and since any improvement is still improvement, I'll be proud of that. I can only get better if I decide to attend another Appleseed.
*The instructors at an Appleseed attempt to teach you to shoot accurately enough to score "expert" on the Army Qualification Course. Until you can do that, you're considered a "Cook," unprepared and unqualified to carry a rifle on the firing line of freedom.