Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Patriot's Day Appleseed Shoot
This past weekend I attended the Patriot’s Day Appleseed shoot in Vienna Ohio. A few weeks ago I wrote about how I got involved in the program and had offered land for a DAR, Ohio, but this was my first shoot.
I am not an intuitive person. In fact, I am excessively analytical. I try not to jump into something with both feet, without thinking it out. With Appleseed I took an unusual risk. I was so moved by what I heard about the program, that I risked committing my farm, peace and privacy to make a part of it available. I made an emotional decision, rather than an analytical one.
My emotions were based upon the tender love I have for my Country, and love can be blinding. This realization makes me second-guess any emotional or intuitive decisions, especially when dealing with relative strangers. By attending the Vienna shoot, I would be able to see for real what kind of mess I might have gotten myself into.
Few things in my life exceed my expectations. This past weekend actually did. The history was presented with passion that made it relevant to today. The instructors were fantastic. The participants were from all walks of life. They ranged in age from 8 to 65. There were experienced shooters and those who never shot a rifle before. From the shoot boss to the most inexperienced shooter, they all shared a certain quality that I cannot describe except to say that these were people I tremendously enjoyed being around.
I was particularly impressed by the the safety system, which was set up to have several redundancies. Rifles remained in cars until the safety briefing. Everyone was given to understand that they were a range safety officer. Between shooting sessions, rifles remained unloaded, with safeties on, and grounded with a chamber flag inserted. Preparation for shooting was divided into a magazine loading period and a preparation period, where the unloaded rifle could be handled but not the magazine. Prior to firing, instructors walked the line and looked for any potential safety problem. I have never seen a mass shooting event where I would feel more confident in allowing an inexperienced shooter to handle a rifle.
Unlike competitive shooting, Appleseed can be shot with any safe rifle from .22 to .30 caliber. I strongly recommend a 22. About half the line was using the Ruger 10-22. I used a Marlin Model 80 bolt action 22. The variety was interesting. I saw a Ruger 77 Varmint rifle in .223, A marlin .22 lever. an FN/FAL in 308, a couple of Ar-15's and even one session shot with a Mosin Nagant 91/30. The program sort of recommends a semi auto .22 but the emphasis is on shooting skills, not choice of firearm.
The history included Lexington and Concord, a great presentation on flags of the Revolution, and I was honored to do a short demonstration with my flintlock long rifle.
All of the history was presented as it should be-the story of those who gave us this country and our obligation to keep and cherish that heritage by becoming active informed citizens.
I learned a lot in those two days. I learned about the "Massachusetts Revolution of 1774" and what it means to the concept of self government. I learned that I am not alone in getting choked up and a little teary eyed over our country's heritage. I learned a lot about speeding up target acquisition and recovering with a bolt action rifle (I need to learn more about this). I learned my decision to jump into this program with both feet was a good one.
How Did I shoot? Well, the Appleseed gold standard is 210 or better on a modified army qualification target (Expert Rifleman). Prior to going, I shot one at home and scored 185 (sharpshooter). Under the constraints of timing I had more trouble. My first target was 155 (marksman). After a cadence drill, I got up to 194. My final two targets were 203 and 205. This improvement was due to the fact that every instructor had something to offer. The instructors (orange hats) also worked with every other shooter to get their skills and scores up. A cousin who attended with me suffers from very bad knees. They worked with him to alter shooting positions to something he might be able to live with.
Riflecraft is an essential part of the agrarian life. Without my rifle, I would not have a garden or any livestock left from the numerous varmints around here. There is no better way to improve riflecraft (and just maybe save a country that is dying from lack of love) than to attend an Appleseed event.