I really hate to mention it here in this realm of derring-do and expertise in all things martial.
But I’m a lousy rifle shot.
Picture it: I’m a guerrilla fighter. My comrades are counting on my sniping skills to take out a key enemy position. I aim, breathe, squeeze the trigger — and take out a cow in a barn 12 degrees to the left, alerting the enemy, losing the battle, and depriving my fellow fighters of milk they need for survival.
Fortunately, no one is likely ever to be dumb enough to rely on my sniping skills.
Still, one recent Saturday I found myself, rifle in hand, at a nearby farm in the company of 20 women and girls.
We were there to attend a LadySeed, the women-only version of an Appleseed marksmanship clinic. Project Appleseed, as you may know, is an effort to turn Americans back into expert shooters “one rifleman at a time.” Its events are put on by the wonderfully named Revolutionary War Veterans Association and are staffed entirely by volunteers.
It’s not just about shooting. Each Appleseed also features an extended history lesson focused on April 19, 1775.
But mostly it’s shooting.
A blog post is too short to cover much about the events. The quickest and best thing to say is this is valuable training for anyone — man, woman, or child — who wants to buff up on rifle skills and do it with excellent help and in good company. And if there’s an Appleseed near me in the uber-boonies, there’ll probably be one near you at some time or another. Schedules are listed on the organization’s site.
Appleseed is not ideal for someone who has never fired a gun. Still, the woman next to me on the firing line was a newbie. She began the day unable to hit the paper. By the time we dragged our tired selves home, she was punching impressive holes.
The friend who came with me and I quickly realized we had handicapped ourselves by not bringing proper equipment. She had a bolt action with a single five-round magazine, and I had a tube-fed Savage that was my brother’s Cub Scout gun back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.
A semiauto .22 with two or more mags and a sling is really a must to get the most out of an Appleseed.
Turns out there’s a good equipment list linked right from the front page of the Project Appleseed website. But since we came to the class sign-up via a different route, we never saw it and couldn’t find one. It was our fault for not digging deeper. But it would have been nice had the organizers ensured that every attendee had such a list.
That’s a nit-pick. There are many, many more positive things to say. For the sake of brevity, I’ll focus on one: the excellent volunteer staff. The instructors in our case were all women — and could easily have been professional trainers.
Appleseed got started just five years ago with roughly two dozen clinics. This year, according to our instructors, it’s putting on close to 1,000. Even the New York Times took notice — although predictably the writer put the scariest possible slant on things.
Did my friend and I emerge as better shooters? Hard to say. Most people in the class did — and that was just on the first day. For a variety of reasons, we decided to skip the Sunday session. Both of us felt we’d have made more progress had we brought semi-autos.
But there’s always another Appleseed. And maybe someday “I’ll be good enough not to pot that cow.”