Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cooked* - Appleseed pt. 3

I've always been told that all you can do is do your best but despite all of my efforts, as the end of the Appleseed approached I felt a little defeated. I didn't skip any rounds, did the transitions as well as my physical limitations would allow, and kept trying to find my natural point of aim but my targets just didn't seem to be improving.

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.


Jay G said...

That's still damn good shootin', Breda.

And anyone that calls you a cook? Hit 'em with a fry pan... ;)

Mulligan said...

I have the cheeseburger/milkshake version, been using it for years.

not recommended :(

Mike W. said...

I tried burgers & milkshakes. It doesn't work. I'm still skinny as a rail.

That's still awesome shooting BTW, especially the last target of the day after 8 hours.

Glad you had fun!

Earl said...

Remember skinny kids learn how to shoot in weeks, not one day, do a little more research on the Army and especially the Marine marksmanship program. You are trying to empty the whole fifth of twenty year Scotch in thirty minutes, which only works in college and they aren't going to war. I like your grit and guts, and I was happy you were grouping more by the end of the day, I would have liked to be whispering you through your shots, and telling you when not to shoot because your form wasn't exactly like the last one - but you are getting closer to knowing what each shot should be like. Don't forget Cooper's dryfire, practicing position on that terrible rocky ground (ever gone camping and found a place to sleep without rocks? I didn't have one in Saudi while waiting to invade Iraq). You have done very well, and you will continue to improve and will be the best shooting Librarian around, at least in Northeastern Ohio. ;-)

Brandon said...

Defeated? Not in the least. Despite the fact that you were feeling miserable, you saw it through to the end. Well done!

zeeke42 said...

Excellent improvement for your first day. When you add in the fact that the last target was after 8 hours in the heat staring at those tiny targets, it's more impressive. I think if you dry fire by the numbers at home for 15-20 minutes a day for a week or two and then head out to the range with a fresh body and fresh eyes, you'll be amazed at how well you do. I know I was.

Holly said...


I enjoyed this very much, especially the part about being a tough chick. When my husband and I took our CCW license classes/qualifying test, it was about 20 degrees outside and we were shooting on a frozen range.

My husband called me "intrepid" after that.

I don't blame you for the heatstroke, either. I work inside all day, too, and I can't always keep up with my carpenter-by-trade husband. Sucks, but you tough it out.

Thanks for the great read!

Bob said...

This isn't the only Appleseed you'll see, Breda. Try another in the fall, when the air is cool and dry and the sky impossibly blue. In the meantime, knowing what's required, spend time practicing the positions you have to assume, learn to love your sling, and fire your rifle(s) in other, less strenuous, sessions.

doubletrouble said...

Good on ya for stickin' it out lass- nice job!

Linoge said...

Thanks for writing up the series... I have been idly considering going to one of these events, but have never summed up the nerve/time. That, and my abbreviated barrel M1A is of dubious use at the ranges they are talking about... at least with me behind it. Either way, I might start looking more seriously after reading through this.

And while I may not be a rifle instructor, I would venture to say that you improved a fair bit between beginning and end. And, more importantly, you toughed through it, learned a lot, and proved to yourself that you could. Sure, you could use some practice, but until you turn into the equivalent of Colonel Cooper, that can be said of anyone.

Fearsclave said...

I'm beginning to realize just how non-trivial the Appleseed mini-AQT is. I was bloody horrified by my first attempt. You have zip-all to be unhappy with, especially on the last target; I'd bet that fatigue and heatstroke masked a lot of actual improvement that's going to show up the next time you shoot.

West, By God said...

You are a tough chick! Anything worth learning takes time anyway. I don't think you can be a decent rifleman without a few years experience. But you can always get better, learn more, and practice.

As far as being a "cook"... You are better equipped now to handle a red-dawn style soviet invasion than you were before appleseed. I'd rather be beside you in that scenario than beside someone who's never picked up a rifle.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Now THAT hat I like.

kaveman said...

Keep some things in mind Breda...

If I remember correctly, you said this was your first time shooting at an outdoor range. Now you have wind and glare as a factors you've never faced indoors. It don't take but a slight breeze to push a .22 off target.

Don't try to compare your outside targets against the indoor ones.

Breda said...

jay - cast iron?

mulligan - I do like milkshakes, though

mike w - try an appleseed someday, if you get a chance!

earl - I would have so appreciated those whispers.

brandon - thank you

zeeke - I don't know about excellent, but I'll take what I can get

holly - I'm glad you delurked!

bob - fall would be a perfect time, i think

DT - thanks!

linoge - I agree about the practice. Now to be able to practice perfectly.

fearsclave - we'll see...next time!

west - commies, zombies, I've got your back =)

TBolt - I live for your approval, you do realize that don't you?

kaveman - you're very kind, thank you

Aaron said...

You can't do it all or learn it all in on day. I am still learning more after 45 years of shooting. I took another class on cowboy action shooting on August 15. I also used to run the Designated Marksmanship (Sniper) School for the Army in Korea. Like most things it is a journey.

Hang in there.

posterboy said...

I had hoped you could do both days...because it is like being force fed at an all you can eat buffet ! Sunday is the day to digest that info at an appleseed. The improvement that the other shooters had sunday was amazing. Plus sundays usually have less shooters so there is even more personal instruction to be had.

Yes it's a long weekend but worth every minute.

Folks she did great as you can see .I was there first hand and she will earn that rifleman's patch....Mike will too his groups had improved so much by the end of that brutally hot day. You have the tools now. Not many people score rifleman at their first appleseed. As one of the newly minted rifleman on saturday said " I learned more in one day than I learned in a whole week of bootcamp" So that is the mountain of info climb!

now the rest of YOU need to come out to one..You will not find a more fun , friendly group to spend a weekend learning the art of the rifle with....

good Job Breda and Mike!

Jeff said...

Inspirational story.
I'm a huge chicken when it comes to doing something new (and meeting new people.) Hearing someone else feels the same is encouraging. This sounds like great fun. Maybe I can get my brother to buddy up w/ me.

Did you shoot .22 the whole time? I've read the Appleseed website, and I seem to remember it talking about switching to centerfire on day 2.

Wild Deuce said...

One solid week of dry fire practice at a white barrel with little black targets drawn on it. If I recall correctly, it was more than eight hours a day. One hour at a time in each of the positions ... standing, kneeling, sitting and prone. Warm sun and a DI to knock you upside the head if you dared to doze off. It still took me almost to the middle of the next week to find my epiphany. It shouldn't have taken me that long either. I just couldn't get my head around the concept of looking at that front sight. I earned an Expert badge every year after that.

Breda, you've got every reason to be proud after a single day.

Ted said...

Well, you may shoot like a girl, but you kick my butt on the range. And not everyone can be Sergeant Instructor Snoxall, after all.


Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go fry a chicken. In a skillet. Yes, it's cast iron.


TJH said...

They do the Mad Minute at Appleseed?

zercool said...

That final redcoat is nothing to be ashamed of!

What we usually see is groups tightening up through the early afternoon on Saturday, then starting to widen back out as environment and exertion take their toll.

Sunday morning, when people are back with some rest and some Advil, those groups are *tight*.

The groups themselves look good, the only question left is this: are your sights off an inch or two, or did you forget to check your NPOA? If you can answer that question, then you're more than halfway to your Rifleman.

Willorith said...

Warrior Queen Madam Boudica:
I am exceptionally proud of you. If it were easy, girls would be doing it.
Your muscles are learning to do new things. They will develop a memory for the correct positions. Your brain will work over the new knowledge and find cubbyholes to keep it in. You will mull over your experience over the next days and weeks and with a little bit of dry firing each day, you will become an American Rifleman.
In America, we get up in the morning, go to work, and solve our problems.

45superman said...

You're pretty amazing, Breda.

I'm almost sufficiently inspired to see about trying it in my wheelchair. Not quite, but almost.

Buckshot said...


Just a couple of comments:

Ex-marines are those booted out of the Corps with a dishonorable discharge. The rest are all FORMER Marines.

Even a very light jacket (even one of those things you girls wear with 2/3 sleeves and 1/3 length body (shrug, I might have heard them called) would have protected your sling arm and possibly held in a little more sweat to help keep you cooler. Even an old ripstop cotton BDY blouse might have helped some with this.

And a question:

Did you manage to get hold of an AR15? Some guys were going to make the offer since I got shut out on making the shoot, but I don't know if any one did or not, or if you felt like taking them up on it.

I am very sorry I didn't make the shoot, after I helped talk you into going. Sounds like you had an enjoyable time, over all, once you can look at it from a little distance?

Make sure you use all you new knowledge the next time you take the rifle to the range and use anything applicable for pistol shooting any time you get a chance also.

Even think about Canton/Minerva this fall, remember that women shoot free through the end of the year.


Motor-T said...

Marine recruits spend a week dry firing a rifle from allof those positions before ever firing a shot. When the shooting actually begins, they shoot for 4 days before qual day.

Nobody can learn it all in the first day. I still learn something every time I sling a rifle from an unsupported position.

Anonymous said...

The Rifle or Pistol is an extention of ones sight or in many folks cases. Your dominant eye.

Believe it or not.
If you concentrate long/hard enough. You can make the bullet strike the target, where you are looking without aimimnig down the sight plain.
Just remember. You are putting the Bullet where YOU want it.
Or your brain is telling you to put it.
Nice Job Breda.

Anonymous said...

kaveman- That is an excellant pointer.
There's many variables that come into play, when we shoot outdoors.

But that's what makes it even more interesting.

Joseph said...

Breda, I would bet that in 6-12 months you will be teaching others rifle marksmanship.

DirtCrashr said...

IMO the sling works best with a shooting jacket and can actually be detrimental on bare flesh - it's one of the first things I bought. Also IMO 8-hours is enough time to introduce fatigue and bad-habits, and deplete the euphoria of success - it's important to have that. Some people like to push against a brick wall and go "Arrgh!" but to me it's not that conducive-to or analogous to the stepping-stones you need to have and build-on. We do the .22 shooting introduction a bit differently at my club, then for the buff and macho older New Shooters we step it up to M1 Garands and a real 200-yards.
It's all good though if it doesn't introduce heartbreak, pain, and Fail - you can't fit 10lbs in a 5lb sack.

posterboy said...


appleseed is set up so that you don't need to have all the high power stuff to come and learn...it's a come as you are program designed to give a shooter the skill to hit 4MOA with their rifle thats it. There are many other courses one can take after appleseed and that is great to do for sure. Appleseed is a super "feeder" program that gets it's participants interested in new things be they NRA high power or small bore or something else.Most importantly it gets people behind rifles no matter the skill level.

As far as instilling bad habits..the whip I used on the shooting line prevented that.. you usually only have to hit them once.....lol..just kidding of course


Joseph said...


You did very well. Remember, this was a lot of firsts for you, all while under a lot of physical stress.
For you to push on even not feeling well, didn't go unnoticed by the folks there.

Any takers on how long it will be before Breda is one of the instructors? :)

DirtCrashr said...

I used a sling from the outset, that is just how I was trained on the Garand. It took quite a while before I could afford a jacket, and longer for a scope. I had never-ever shot a rifle before 2001.
But a sling on bare flesh just doesn't work for me, and I've watched it also not-work for our adult-age new-shooters who come wearing a t-shirt. IMO it's potentially more harmful than useful, and I'm not even sure that a sling benefits a 10/22 except psychologically - as long as its not intrusive and debilitating, "Do no Harm," and all that.
Perhaps we need to update our FAQ to include more about what new-shooters should bring and wear - but the thing is with Adults, they come dressed as they please anyhow and don't make any changes until some hot brass lands on their neck. And every first Saturday of the Month they come.
Children are easier to teach and instill good habits, every second Saturday they also come - and with their Moms - they shoot free. It's in our charter.

Dwarven1 said...

Breda, I see some definite improvement in those Redcoats! Believe me, after three Appleseeds I know that towards the end of the day my grouping opens up - when I get that exhausted and sore it's tough to keep the groups tight. But persist, and I'm sure that you'll get that coveted Rifleman patch!

Hey, you're way ahead of Jay G... I STILL can't get him to come to an AS, in spite of a personal invitation. Maybe I'll have him over to my next cookout... as the cook.

45Superman, why not come to an AS? I understand that you will NOT be the first shooter at one in a wheelchair. We work with you to figure out what works for you.

Our real purpose is to wake up our slumbering fellow countrymen... this is just how we do it. I feel sure that if you do come to a shoot, the only emotion you will be evoking is respect - I would certainly respect someone who won't let a wheelchair slow him down! (pun unintentional!)

Ross - Appleseed Instructor In Training.

45superman said...

Dwarven, your encouragement is much appreciated, believe me, but the number of physical issues I would be dealing with (little to no control/strength/sensation in the lower torso, extreme discomfort after more than a few consecutive hours in the chair, etc.) would , I think, make it impractical. I also think that the effort that would be expended trying to accommodate me would be unfair to the other participants.

I hope to find a useful role to play in the defense of liberty, but rifleman won't be it, my wishes to the contrary notwithstanding. I am a decent cook, however ;-).

I can't really even manage a long gun, to be honest, although when I get the 6.5mm Grendel upper receiver for this bad puppy, I hope to do some work on "the rifleman's quarter mile."

Thanks again for your kindness and encouragment.

zercool said...

45Superman, I'll echo Dwarven, but I'll twist it a little bit... if you make it to upstate NY, or I happen to make it out to the midwest again, I'd be delighted to spend a day on the range with you, one to one, working on Appleseed techniques... Just say the word.

45superman said...

You guys are great. You're also the reason we'll eventually win. The people on the other side are opposed to true freedom, but they're not willing to work to suppress it half as hard as people like you are ready and willing to work protect it.

It's an honor to be on your side.

Glenn Bartley said...

Very Interesting. I may have to attend one of these Appleseed Shoots. Do they require a semi auto rifle, or would a Mosin Nagant do?

zercool said...

@ Glenn Bartley:
Do they require a semi auto rifle, or would a Mosin Nagant do?

Appleseed is very much a "run whatcha brung" affair. Semi-autos are easier to work with, but certainly not required. I'm not super-familiar with M-N rifles; if they are detachable-magazine fed, make sure you've got a couple of mags. If they're stripper-clip-fed, you may have trouble with the time firing courses... but the instructors are always happy to help in any way they can.

Also, keep in mind that you will be firing 400-600 rounds over the course of two days... that can be a heavy ammo bill and a heck of a bruise on the shoulder, but that's entirely your decision. :-)

straightarrow said...

The cheeseburger padding thing will only make it worse. Especially in the prone position. Trust me, I tried it. It is very difficult to hold on the target when your body is rocking heel to forehead against the ground around your belly.

Chris M said...

Breda, I learned to shoot .22LR with a sling 45 years ago shooting every school weekend at my local high school range. I've shot prairie dogs with a heavy barrel .222 Remington and high-power scope as a hobby for twenty years. That said, I don't think I'd have done as good as you did with only iron sights and a 10/22 at those long ranges.

You are a natural shooter and I am just plain jealous. As others said, you'll be an instructor soon. Not to become one is to waste a lot of God given talen.

straightarrow said...

I would love to do an Appleseed, but I don't think I can manage it from sw ar.

Chris said...

Straightarrow: Where in SW AR is is you're coming from? There's Appleseed planned in Yellville AR, and several in surrounding states...

Heck, find a place to shoot, get some friends interested in coming, and we'll come to you!

Way to go! Good shooting, and thanks for generating some good conversation on the Appleseed program!

Anonymous said...

Keep going to the Appleseed shoots. Work hard at it and eventually you can become an instructor yourself. You will have empathy for the folks on the line and know the frustration they are feeling and be able to tell (and show them) what they are capable of if only they persist. The fact that you are a "Tough Chick" will add further incentive for other women to do what you have done. Kudos