The 7th step of an Appleseed shoot
There are 6 steps to firing a shot in an Appleseed shoot. In fact these 6 steps should be used any time you are firing a gun:
1. SIGHT ALIGNMENT — Line up the front and rear sights, or your cross hairs
2. SIGHT PICTURE — Keeping the sights lined up, bring them onto the target
3. RESPIRATORY PAUSE – Deep breath, exhale partially, hold breath as your sites line up on target
4A. FOCUS YOUR EYE — Focus your eye on the front sight
4B. FOCUS YOUR MIND -– Keep front sight on target
5. TRIGGER SQUEEZE –- Squeeze straight back while sight stays on target making sure you hold it back until your shot hits paper
6. FOLLOW THROUGH — Keep your eyes on target and watch where your shot lands. You should be able to call your shots.
The 7th step is for those who go to an Appleseed shoot. This step doesn’t help you become a better marksman. In fact it isn’t about you, so to say. It’s about telling everyone else about Appleseed so they can get the same joys you have gotten. If people don’t know they can’t get this great experience. For all of you how haven’t had the great joys of attending an Appleseed, here is my 7th step.
My First Appleseed
In April of 2017 I went to my very first Appleseed shot. To be honest with you I went mainly to qualify to by an M1 Garand from CMP. I’ve wanted an M1 for a long time, but couldn’t afford the normal prices they charge at a gun store. If you can find one to buy. I also wasn’t picky about the condition as long as it shoots. I wanted it to have fun at the range.
However, that first Appleseed shot I learned so much. If you read my post (Project Appleseed) from the first time I went you’ll understand. The biggest thing I learned from that first time was how much I enjoyed it. In fact I knew that I had stumbled onto something I love doing.
Don’t get me wrong I improved my shooting so much. But I can tell you the things I learned off the shooting line where as important as those I learned on the line. I learned history I never thought I’d enjoy. I made friends that I may only see a few times a year, or never again. Needless to say I was hooked.
This time I went back because I had a goal. I was going to make Rifleman. I didn’t qualify at the AQT last time. So I signed up again and decided I’d make it this time. I was still in the mindset that it’s hard but nothing to hard. I can do it. I’ll beat the odds and make rifleman my second go around. It’s only 5 months later and I wasn’t bad the first time. I scored a 183 out of 210 needed. Boy was my thinking flawed. In fact I had even practiced a few times over the summer. Of course I had plans of going every weekend to practice, but life got in the way.
I didn’t make Rifleman
In case you where wondering. I didn’t make rifleman this time either. Now that I’m done shooting and have time to think about it. I forgot the first rule of an Appleseed shoot. Have a teachable attitude. Yep, I’ll admit. I was to confident.
Saturday morning as I was hitting amazing groups I was very confident. The first AQT when I shot a 150 put a damper on this. I figured it was just nerves I’d get over it and do better. Which I did, sort of. I also started getting tired. This is something you never really think about until you do it. It is very tiring laying on the firing line in prone position. Well, not the first time, but you do it dozens of times. By the first night I was spent.
Sunday I was in the hope I would qualify and really just wanted to rush into a long day of AQT after AQT. As we sighted in our rifles I realized that maybe today wasn’t my day. I couldn’t group at all. Well, at least not like I did the day before.
Learning to Understand INCHS, MINUTES, and CLICKS
When we went over sighting in a rifle again. I started with the idea of we went over this yesterday. As I was listening I realized hadn’t learned it. Yes I understand that you can look at your target and know that your group is 1 inch to the left. Which means you need to move your sight. I understood that an inch on paper translates to a circle in Minutes of Angle. Which then translates to Clicks on your sight adjustment.
What I didn’t understand was bullet trajectory. I’ve read many times how a bullet travels and that it’s not straight. It’s curved. I even thought I understood why you can have your scope sighted in perfect at 2 different distances.
However, I never understood that when you move your scope sights, you are in reality changing that angle of the barrel. I was always in the thought the bullet actually rose a little bit coming out the barrel, before it dropped. Wow, sort of felt stupid on that one. What this proved to me is that you can always learn new things at an Appleseed. It also showed me just how important that teachable attitude is. I had sort of forgotten that. I seem to have a bad habit of picking and choosing what I learn because I think I already know it. This is something I need to work on. Which Appleseed is helping me with.
My Final AQT’s
Sunday is spent running AQT’s. I was hoping that I could pass on Sunday, but I didn’t pass. Even though I was pretty constant. I did pretty good standing, scoring on average 43 out of 50. Sitting position was pretty good for me. Scoring around 32 out of 50. I need some work on this but it’s respectful. Where I goofed up was prone position. Now I was ok on the transition from standing to prone averaging 30+. Where I really had problems was the straight prone position. Now my best score was 78 out of 100. Now if you add those up I would make Rifleman. The problem I have is consistency. I do well in one stage and goof up another stage.
I have no idea what I’m doing wrong. Not sure why I just can’t improve. What I do know is that I’m missing some sort of fundamental each time I shoot. There are six steps to taking a shoot. All seem very easy when you read them. They even seem easy when you take lots of time and concentrate on them. They are not so easy when you are timed and have to preform them at the drop of a hat while tired. This is just one of the reasons why I will be back to shoot another Appleseed, and why I’m 7th stepping everyone that bothers to read this blog. I feel that if you own a rifle it’s in your best interest to learn this steps and enjoy learning rifle marksmanship.
The People and Friends
Two days of shooting takes it out of person. I have bruises on my elbows. My muscles are sore, and surprising my shoulder hurts from the recoil of a .22LR. What makes all of this worth it is meeting the people of Appleseed. Our Shoot Boss what a great guy. I’m not going to use everyone’s names. Mainly because I can’t remember but also because I didn’t ask for permission to use them.
The Shoot Boss was a very friendly guy that made you feel like you where important. The best part is you could tell that shooting, and rifle marksmanship was something he practiced all the time. He never bragged about the matches he’d won. Nor did he give you the impression he was better than anyone. Which is what you want from someone who is teaching you.
The people where great. One of the Orange hats was a guy I watched struggle to get Rifleman on my first Appleseed. An amazingly friendly guy who even offered to help me practice some time, and help me out. This is a guy I’ve meet twice, and feel like he’s a better friend than people I’ve know for years. Melissa of the Armed Couples Podcast was there helping and as always was friendly. Her husband Toby couldn’t make as he has finally found a job he loves as much as shooting, and had to work. These two are the reason I went to my first Appleseed and have to give them credit for turning me on the a great Organization.
The last red hat who was helping was a retired police officer from Boston. Now I never got the story as how he made it from Boston to Nebraska or at least I don’t remember. What I can tell you is that he is very knowledgeable in the history of the 3 strikes that started the Revolutionary war. So much that it made me want to do more research on these stories and learn more. Something that no history teacher I’ve ever had made me want to do.
I shot next to a couple that where there from Kansas and used this at the start of their vacation. The husband had been to Appleseed many times. In fact he’d made Rifleman using Open sights, a scope, and this time around using a bolt action gun. Talk about impressive. His wife was there for her first actual shot. Which she scored 205 out of the 210 she needed. Very impressive.
There were a couple guys who made Rifleman this weekend. One of them was using a suppressed Buckmaster rifle. This thing was cool. It was basically a .22 LR pistol with a longer barrel and a stock. The guy next to him was using a basic AR-15. Which after his 8th shoot he made Rifleman. Got to give a guy props for sticking with it 8 times so he can make Rifleman. I hope I do better than that but won’t matter if it takes me 10 times.
The person I won’t forget though was the 22 year old kid that showed up without a gun. He borrowed a rifle from one of the instructors. Which is an option. The first day you could tell he’d barely ever shot anything. He couldn’t run the gun, barely made it on paper and was more awkward then my 10 year old son. Now I know this sounds mean but I have full respect for this kid.
I couldn’t do it. I’ve avoided shooting competitions because I don’t want to look bad. I’m scared to go to Rock Your Glock because I don’t want to be the worst shooter. This kid not only showed up without a gun he came back the next day. In two days he went from someone I would want to stand next to shooting, to someone I’d take hunting any day and expect him to get his deer.
Why I’ll go back
Why was I going back? I already became a member of CMP, I already had my M1 Garand, I’d already learned how to shoot. Why go back? The simple answer is I love it. Spending 2 days at the gun range is fun.
Yes I have bruises. Of course I have a few brass burns. My body is so tires it’s not funny. But just being outside and shooting for 2 days makes me want to go back. You throw in the learning experience, and the people you meet it’s amazing. Add the idea that I’ve never seen any other training course where you get two days of instruction and camaraderie less than $100. Which even if you include range fees, and a membership to the RWVA you still come in under $100. In fact you almost feel like you should have to pay more. But let’s keep that on the down low. We wouldn’t want them raising the prices.
If everything I’ve said so far isn’t enough to make you understand why I’ll keep going back. The satisfaction I’m going to get when I finally earn my Rifleman’s score will be make all of this worth every penny, every bruise, sunburn, and brass burn. The thing is I know that even when I make marksman I won’t quit. I’ll want to become good enough that I can make that score every time. Heck I’m not sure it’s possible but I’d be willing to keep trying until I make a perfect score of 250 on an AQT. I’m sure some men far better than me have done it.
Everyone should go once
I’m in the firm belief that if you own a rifle for what ever reason you need to go to at least one Appleseed shoot in your life time. I’ve told you all the reasons I’ve gone and will continue to go. However, I’m sure you can think of a few more. As a hunter this will help you learn to take that long shot on a deer you’ve always missed before. For those who shot competition it will teach you constancy. If you just love plinking it will give you that ability to show off to all your friends. For anyone that enjoys shooting a rifle you need to go to an Appleseed shoot. I know you will enjoy it as much and I do. With the hope you that you too will find it necessary to 7th step everyone you know. Giving other the option to go to an Appleseed shoot.