“Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow.” — Stevens Point Daily Journal, August 1897.
“Who’s a Rifleman?” Mike “Duke” Venturino asks in his May 2008 “Montana Musings” column. “No one ever became a rifleman by shooting a few dozen cartridges a year.”
The Appleseed Project helps answer his question. Named after Johnny Appleseed, and conducted by the nonprofit Revolutionary War Veterans Association (cool name, eh?), their crew of volunteers, like their legendary namesake, “travel[s] America planting the seeds of basic rifle marksmanship, so that future generations will benefit.”
“A marksman,” they teach, is “capable of hitting a man-sized target from 500 yards away … This 500-yard range is traditionally known as ‘the rifleman’s quarter-mile;’ a rifleman can hit just about any target he can see,” and their mission is to teach participants to “shoot a rifle accurately — accurate enough to score ‘expert’ on the Army Qualification Course.”
Appleseed does this by providing intensive weekend shoots as well as weeklong “boot camps” held across the country.
“We seek to do three things,” they say, “teach marksmanship and respect for the tradition of such, and to preserve the knowledge of our Revolutionary War history … We believe that if we teach it, it’ll wake our fellow Americans … and an awakened America is an America that cannot be defeated.”
As for types of rifles used, participants can bring “any safe firearm which can be accurately shot from the shoulder. We’re semi-auto and bolt-gun friendly.”
Optics are allowed, although they encourage iron sights. But they use slings, not bipods, as they “want you to learn to drive stick shift.”
“The weekend Appleseed is two days of marksmanship instruction with the history of April 19, 1775, interspersed,” RWVA’s “Fred” told me. “Saturday and half of Sunday is done at 25 meters. Sunday afternoon shooters may move to a longer range, when available, and shoot up to 400, 500, and/or 600 yards. The week-long Rifleman Boot Camp is the same thing stretched out; the idea being to use the extra time to qualify people as ‘riflemen’ (not usually possible in a 2-day weekend) but also to give them a leg up on becoming an instructor and teaching others rifle marksmanship.”
“I had one of the most intense educational experiences of my life,” wrote Chris Knox of The Firearms Coalition, who attended an Appleseed shoot in Phoenix last year.
“I’ve been to lots of shooting matches and clinics and sight-in days in my time. But I’ve never been to one that placed so much emphasis on what it means to be a rifleman — and what being a rifleman has to do with being an American.”
And there’s another benefit that must be mentioned: “Appleseeders” can qualify to purchase an M1 Garand from the Civilian Marksmanship Program for far below market price.
All this plants another seed in my mind: a similar effort to teach gun owners nationwide how to become proficient activists — but that’s a topic for another day.
To find out more about Appleseed, and how you can attend an upcoming event, send a SASE to Revolutionary War Veterans Assocation, P.O. Box 756, Ramseur, NC 27316, or visit them on the Web at www.appleseedinfo.org