Introductory Note: I am not an employee of RWVA, Appleseed Project or any company I might mention in this article. I am however a volunteer Instructor in Training for Appleseed. I receive no remuneration for my service.
My introduction to the Appleseed Project was different, than for most SurvivalBlog .com readers.
I have had an avid interest in firearms from the time my uncle came to live with us during my high school years. Uncle Dick had several rifles, shotguns and pistols (of which I have since inherited). My first after school job was at a hardware store that just happened to have the largest gun display in our little town of 20,000.
I spent as much of my paycheck on firearms and ammunition as my parents would allow, while still saving for college and paying for my own personal expenses.
Early in 2010 I was thinking of how I could take a Ruger .22 rimfire Model 10/22 and make it look like an M1 Carbine. And so I did a web search on the phrase “Ruger 10/22 M1 Carbine”. I was surprised to see something pop up. It was E.A. Brown’s web site. They had a stock, sling and sights that would allow me to do exactly what I wanted to do.
But they also had in the description, a reference to the term “Liberty Training Rifle”. I had never heard of this. What could it mean?
Back to Google, which then directed me to Appleseed Project, child of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association (RWVA).
I was intrigued with what I read:
Marksmanship and Heritage.
Shooting skills and Patriotism.
Tales of the Revolution.
It seemed too good to be true.
As I read more I wanted to learn more. For you see, I too believed that our country was on the edge of an abyss. Our ship was floundering about to sink. But how could marksmanship help? I mean without using it to force our government to come to their senses?
And as much as I disliked the actions of those in Washington D.C. and our state capitols, I didn’t think that armed revolt was the answer.
But wait, Appleseed did not suggest such. As I dug deeper into whatever I could extract from the internet, I never found such reference.
I decided it was time to find out for myself what Appleseed was all about.
The nearest event to me would be in a couple of weeks at a club range about 40 minutes away, close in Southern Ohio standards.
I decided to not pre-register but to take my chances that they weren’t sold out. On that Saturday morning I registered with cash and only part of my name. You see, I figured I was already on enough “lists” without adding myself to another…NRA, CCW, BSA, etc. If this was a militant or subversive group, I didn’t particularly want them to have my personal information.
I also made a mistake that day, one that I repeated 60 days later. I only enrolled for Saturday. You see, I was of above average intelligence, and had been shooting for over 40 years, a better than average shot, with a lot of knowledge about guns and targets. I had volunteered at the Rifle Range at the nearby Boy Scout summer camp for over 20 years. I had NRA Expert status in small-bore. What could they really teach me? So I concluded that I would only need one day.
I sat down and waited for it to start. Several of the “Orange Hats” (more about this later) tried to make me feel welcome. Coffee and doughnuts inside…help yourself. Where are you from? How did you hear about Appleseed? We’ll get started in a few minutes, have a seat.
I sat down at a picnic table away from everyone else…don’t want anyone to really get to know me or who I am. I can leave anytime…its only $40 (one day). I looked around at the flags hanging around the shelter…Gadsden, Liberty, all of the flags of the American Revolution.
Soon we started. Introductions, range rules, first aid and emergency information…then an invocation and Pledge of Allegiance….okay…so far so good.
Next came some basic safety rules and how to make your rifle safe. Rifle, not weapon. That didn’t sound very military to me. Also we went over range commands.
Okay everyone to the parking lot. Bring your gear to the equipment line. Next carry your cased rifle to the firing line. With the muzzle (the bangy end) downrange, take the rifle out and place it on your mat. Make sure it is safe. Remove the case and everything else (including magazines) from the line.
We are handed targets with five different sizes of shapes in red. They are called “RedCoats”.
Prepare as many magazines as you need to have 13 shots.
We shoot our first target of the day and keep it for future reference.
I won’t go into the instruction that we received that day…I couldn’t do it justice. Let me just say that it was great. The volunteer staff was wonderful. And surprise… much of the staff were women and teenagers. And they knew what they were about!
The end of the day brought a second RedCoat target. This was a way to compare and check improvement. (My second was about 30% better. 30% improvement in one day…WOW!)
Interspersed throughout the day were stories of our forebears, those brave men, women, and boys who gave all for us. And now for the closing… the Benediction…the challenge to take what we learned and do something with it.
I didn’t shoot Rifleman (210 or better out of 250 possible), though I was fairly close. I couldn’t go back the next day…other commitments, but I knew I would go back and I would take those I loved back with me for the History, the Heritage, the instruction, and yes, for the fun.
And go back I did. I made Rifleman as did two of my sons. My youngest son and I “picked up the Orange Hat”, volunteered to become “Instructors in Training”.
Would I recommend you going to an Appleseed event? Oh Yeah! I do to most everyone I know. Men, women, and children who are old (mature) enough to listen and follow instruction. Maybe listening is the most important thing to do at an Appleseed.
At my second Appleseed I was talking to an Orange Hat. He lived about halfway between the range and where I live. We talked long after the event of many things. Soon we were talking of books that we enjoyed and books that affected our lives. He mentioned “Patriots”, by James Wesley, Rawles. Had I read it? No. You should. I did.
And so I found SurvivalBlog.com. Over the last few months I have read much. You see, I have been a prepper most of my life. But reading “Patriots” and SurvivalBlog reawakened me towards being prepared much as Appleseed reawakened my concern for our country.
Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout movement, was once asked what Scouts should be prepared for. You see, the Boy Scout Motto is “Be Prepared”. Lord Baden-Powell said, “Just any old thing.”
Any old thing…read everything. Be prepared…for life, for death, for travails, and for Appleseed.
And so I would like to take a few minutes to help you prepare for your first Appleseed. On the Appleseed web site you will find a list on “How to Prepare for an Event”. Let me repeat it here along with some footnotes and opinions.
How to Prepare for an Event
Not everything listed here is necessary. This list was compiled from the experience of those who have attended an Appleseed. It includes those things that did or would have made their experience more enjoyable. Remember that you need to bring whatever it takes to learn to shoot better.
There is also a short video on YouTube called Project Appleseed: What Should You Bring?
- A teachable attitude (most important thing) ** (I agree. Listen and learn. Ask questions and be willing to humble yourself to become a better person. It is all about improvement)
- Ear protection Muffs and plugs ** (You don’t want tinnitus, trust me)
- Eye protection ** (Don’t be stupid. Mandatory for minors)
- Elbow pads or shooting Jacket (By the end of the weekend you will wish you had something on your elbows. Soft elbow pads like for skateboarders work well. Avoid the curved hard plastic kind; they let your elbow roll. You can even cut the toe out of a pair of thick socks and put them on your arms.)
- Ground cover (Rug remnant will work) (Again some padding between you and the ground. Note, don’t make it too thick or soft – you want firmness to get a steady sight picture.)
- A hat (To keep the glare out of your eyes or the sun off your neck)
- Little notebook (those little 2.5 X 3.5 work well) (please take notes or write down questions. Also very important when recording corrections to sights.)
- Pen (Or Sharpie)
- Sun Screen (I forgot once…but never again!)
- Lots of water (Must stay hydrated) (Eyesight and steadiness are some of the first things to go when you dehydrate.)
- Light Lunch (Sometimes provided for nominal charge...check flyer)
- Snacks (You need to keep your energy level up)
- Folding Chair (not necessary but nice)(Its nice to sit for a minute while you prep your magazines)
- Wet wipes (A quick way to refresh yourself, and to clean your hands before that snack)
- Bug spray
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen (especially at the end of the 1st day and beginning of the second day. You will be sore in places you have never been sore before)
- Necessary clothing for any kind of weather (Be prepared. Expect the worst.)
** Very important things
Rifle specific preparations (Appleseed is a long distance rifle marksmanship course. When there is a known distance range, 100 or more yards, we prefer to use it. However, due to cost of ammunition and rarity of distance ranges, most Appleseed events are shot at 25 meters. Everything you learn at 25 meters will apply at any distance. Even with the distance ranges most shoot at 25 meters on day one and Known Distance (KD) on day 2.)
- See the Appleseed Liberty Training Rifle document: Word Doc or PDF
- Rifle preferably zeroed for 25 meters (Any sights )
- 400+ rounds of the same type and brand of ammo (Its best to use same brand, type and LOT of ammo. Lessen the variables.)
- Sight adjustment tools (Depending on your sights, this could be a screwdriver, a drift punch and mallet, or a sight adjustment tool.)
- GI style web Sling (as seen here at the The Appleseed Store) (Bring what you have, but if you need to purchase a sling please get an USGI web sling. You will never regret it.)
- Two magazines, 10 rounds each. Bring extra mags. If you have them. 20 round magazines work well if State law allows
- Gun cleaning supplies and lube (You will need to do some maintenance cleaning)
- Instructions for your rifle (if you have them) (At least be familiar with the rifle you bring. Know how to tear it down, clean it and put it back together.)
- Know your rifle (See above)
- Something to cover your rifle to keep blowing sand or rain off it. (This can be a rug, a plastic trash bag, or if your mat/carpet remnant is long enough, you can just fold it up and over.)
- Staple gun (Make sure it works. Need one for every 2 people in your group)
- Staples (I recommend that you use at least ½ inch staples. You want them to go through the cardboard backer and not have the wind blow the target off in the middle of an AQT.)
- Know the laws of the State you are going to and only bring that which is within the law (This is really important if you are traveling across a state line for your Appleseed. Don’t become a victim of ignorance.)
- Back-up rifle, if you have one. ("Two is one and one is none.")
Ready Your Equipment
Be prepared for blowing sand and dust, rain, mud — all those weather conditions a rifleman would have to generally put up with. (I might add snow, ice, cold, heat, sun, insects…)
In event of blowing sand and dust, you'll need to totally degrease your rifle. Any lube should be a dry lube, like graphite. Be ready to protect your rifle with a plastic rifle bag or a simple waterproof wrap for the action.
Be ready to protect ammo and mags from the same weather. Ziploc bags are great for this.
Again, be prepared. You should function-test your rifle and, if possible, have it zeroed for 25 meters or 200 yards. You can also adjust your sights so your group prints 3" above point of aim at 100 yards, and mark your sights with paint, magic marker, or fingernail polish. Doing so will leave you properly sighted for the 25 meter AQT.
It's a good idea to get down into the prone position and dry-fire ten shots "by the numbers" (click here to print out the steps from Fred's Web site). If you will do this three times a week, you'll be way ahead of everyone else. Hey, while you're at it, put a GI web sling on your rifle, and get it adjusted so it supports the rifle in prone, too.
Practice at home is a great way to prep for arriving at the range. By doing so your range time will be far more productive.
Whenever a family member or friend decides to attend an Appleseed I will give them some advice. I recommend that they practice the prone and sitting positions. You will find that if you stretch your body into these two positions several times a day, increasing the length of time each day until you can stay in it for 10 minutes or so, that you will not be as likely to need the Ibuprofen. I practice my positions during my television time. I get on the floor in the prone or sitting position and watch television. (I don’t hold a rifle, just in the position to stretch my back, legs and arms.
Note: Even if because of physical limitations you can’t get in a particular shooting position, please go ahead and attend an Appleseed. This is not a competition. We have adaptive Appleseeds all the time. Do what you can. Appleseed is ALL about improving.
It really helps to know your rifle before you show up at an Appleseed. Know the controls – safety, magazine release, how to clear a malfunction, etc. But it’s alright if you are borrowing a rifle and have never seen it until that day.
There is no official Appleseed Rifle. We will see almost anything on the firing line. Bring what you have and normally shoot.
That said, I’d like to offer my opinion on a reliable, safe rifle. The Ruger 10/22 is very dependable and accurate. I have owned (and still own) several over the years.
To get the most out of the gun there are a few accessories that I would recommend to have my Ideal Liberty Training Rifle. Please note that any changes may void your rifle’s warranty.
The first would be a set of 1-¼ inch quick detachable sling swivels (such as Uncle Mike's) and a USGI sling.
Secondly, I would replace the stock sights with sights from TechSights or a decent telescopic sight. The stock sights are difficult to adjust.
Lastly, if you are proficient at all in the anatomy of the 10/22, there are a few internal changes to make it better (IMHO):
- Replace the stock hammer with any of a number of target style hammers (roughly $35). This will lower your trigger pull from 6-7 pounds to about 2.5-3.5 pounds.
- Replace the bolt release with an automatic bolt release. This allows you to close the bolt with one hand instead of two. It is also possible to drill out the larger hole yourself. There are YouTube videos on how this is done.
- If you have an older Ruger 10/22 you may have the short magazine release. This can be replaced with one that is longer. This allows you to change magazines in a timelier manner. There are many available from $5 -30, depending on manufacturer and material.
- I prefer to replace the stock bolt buffer with one made of polymer. This quiets your rifle and relieves some of the stress on the bolt.
The 10/22 comes with one 10-shot magazine. You will need at least one more. I try to bring 4-5 magazines. That way I have a spare if one fails or someone needs to borrow one, and so I can prep my magazines when I have time and not be rushed. I do not like using the extended magazines for Appleseed. When you are wearing a sling the magazine can get in the way of your arm, preventing you from obtaining a proper position. At Appleseed you never need more than ten shots at a time anyway. Make sure that all screws are tight, maybe even using green Loc-tite. My shooting at my second Appleseed suffered greatly due to a loosened takedown bolt. I repeat, make sure screws are tight.
A second rifle can be a lifesaver if something happens to rifle number one. However, loaner rifles are sometimes available.
It would be advisable to know what brand of ammunition your rifle likes, and to have it sighted in, preferably at 25 meters (27 yards). Then make sure you have 400-500 rounds of that brand ammo.
If you are fortunate enough to attend an Appleseed that is held at a range that has a Known Distance (KD) range, be sure to take your center fire rifle. I have seen people shoot the entire weekend with an AR or Garand, but that can be pretty expensive. Use your rimfire while learning some basics and then carry them over to your center fire and distance.
When you get to your Appleseed you will be advised to leave all firearms in your vehicle until told to retrieve them. This includes your carry gun. Please leave it in your vehicle while you are at Appleseed. This is for safety’s sake. If, for example, you are in prone position with your pistol on your side, you would be sweeping everyone behind you, every time they walked by.
Appleseed is family friendly. Many of the students are women and children. Most of the staff at the first Appleseed I attended were teens and ladies.
The cost is very low – check the web site, AppleseedInfo.org for the price in your area. (Some of the ranges charge a modest fee to use the range.)
Appleseed does not take the place of a combat type courses like those offered at Thunder Ranch, Front Sight, etc. It is basic riflemanship at a very fair price.
In closing, I would highly recommend attending an Appleseed regardless of what your level of expertise. You will never find better training, from such qualified instructors at such a fair price almost anywhere in the country. Not one near you? Find a range and we’ll come to you!