My Appleseed Experience

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“My Appleseed Experience”

by VietVet

I remember it as if it was yesterday. Actually it was August, 2009. I was going to my first Appleseed Event. I really didn’t have any idea what they were all about. I just read it was a “Marksmanship Clinic”.
I mean really, what could they teach me that I didn’t know already?
I have been shooting off the bench and hunting successfully for years now.

It was very early on a Saturday morning. I got up about 6AM to begin my day.
Packed up my gear with the recommended light lunch and fluids and headed on out to Calverton Shooting Range, a place I’d been to many times prior to this day. So what could be so different?
I’d go, shoot and show these Appleseed People what I was all about. I was sure they’d be impressed with my ability.

The day started with a Safety Briefing that instantly let me know they took safety very serious and this event was totally in the control of these Instructors who were known by the color hat they wore.
Orange Hat, Red Hat, Green Hat. They had titles also. IIT’s , Instructor, Shoot Boss, Line Boss, Line Safety Officers and a few I wouldn’t remember at that time.
Who were these guys?
They called themselves the RWVA.

I will admit that the Safety Briefing helped settle a little concern I had about how things were going to be controlled during this event. Anyone that has ever been to “Calverton” knows it as “Dodge City”. You go, you Shoot. That’s it!

Well, with caution we brought our Rifles to “The Line”. We had picked our special spot for this day after registering and signing a “Release Form”.  This way if something went wrong the RWVA wouldn’t be held responsible.
At this event there were about 20 or so shooters who were going after this “Patch” that was highly respected and sought after. If you earned it you were considered a “Rifleman”.
No problem, let’s get this thing going. I’ll get that Patch. All you have to do is shoot a 210 or higher on this target they had called an AQT. Nothing more than a target with several different size silhouettes on it. Again, no problem.

We began by “Prepping” our magazines.
Prepping?  I load, I don’t prep.
I came to realize that prepping and loading had two completely different meanings at an Appleseed. Well, I prepped.
I prepped to shoot this “Red Coat Target” that we had just hung on the Target Line.
It’s a simple target, just 13 shots. Three in each size silhouette and one in this little square called the “Head Shot”.
Where was the challenge for such an experienced Shooter/ Hunter?
Move your Colored Hats aside and let me at it.
They did.
We fired our 13 shots and after the line was cleared we went down range to see our results.
I mean only 25 meters away, this was easy.

This was about the time I started to realize what those “Colored Hats” really signified.
What earning that “Patch” really meant and how easy it wasn’t going to be.
They now truly had my complete attention.
I needed help.

Help is exactly what I got.
Throughout the next two days I would come to learn that I didn’t have a clue on the correct way to fire a shot from any position. Standing, sitting, kneeling, prone. All were explained, demonstrated and practiced.
“Six Steps”?
Aim and pull the trigger, No?
No. There actually is a “Method” to firing a shot correctly. Who knew?
I would soon learn it. It works too.
NPOA? What organization is that?
Oh, Natural Point of Aim. Of course, I knew that. Couldn’t admit I didn’t. After all I’ve been shooting for years. I own several rifles too.

You have to breathe properly too?
Isn’t breathing something we do naturally without thinking?
Yes, of course, pull the trigger at a certain point in your breathing cycle.
Oh…I’m sorry I meant to say “Squeeeeeeeeeeeze” the trigger.
Focus where?
Front sight?
What about the target?  That’s where I’m aiming.

I did get a little upset at first when I was told I needed to “Turkey Neck”.
What’s with this “Cheek Weld” thing?
Who’s “Dragging Wood”?
There’s no wood on my synthetic stock and it’s nowhere near the ground to be dragging.

Over these two days at this “Clinic” I would learn many new words and acronyms to add to my vocabulary.
Most important for the first time in my “Shooting Career” I’d learn I didn’t know how to shoot correctly.

These people in these “Colored Hats” would soon change that.

I also, after being out of school for MANY years would learn about a War I’ve heard of many times, The American Revolutionary War.
You know the one where Paul Revere rode around and shouted “The British Are Coming”.

WOW…..Did I feel dumb. I wouldn’t tell them that though.
I didn’t need to.
They knew America was asleep.
They were there to try to wake us, to help us.
Teach us what our Forefathers had sacrificed for us to have our freedom. This was done by just telling the story of what started this War. The “Three Strikes of the Match” as they call it.
After hearing these stories and learning how to be a true “Rifleman” I came away knowing many new things beside how to take the shot properly, things about my Country’s beginning and things about myself.

I didn’t make Rifleman as I expected to do at this event.
It took me another two Shoots to finally make the grade and get that score over 210.
It was a proud occasion for me.
The RWVA woke me up. I made Rifleman, got my Patch and continue on the Appleseed Trail.

Oh, by the way, I proudly wear a RED HAT now.
Someday I’ll wear a Green one and be known as a Shoot Boss.

Hopefully I can wake a few sleeping Americans up to join me on the trail.
Maybe put one of those colored hats on you also.

Appleseed…..It grows on you. You grow within it.

America, the alarm clock is ringing.
It’s time to wake up.