Hello folks, as promised here is my AAR for the Mobile, AL Appleseed held last weekend.
First, a little layman's explanation of Appleseed: It's not some HSLD tactical shooting course. Rather, it's a course designed to turn a novice or seasoned rifle shooter into a marksman capable of hitting targets at 100-400 yards using a stable shooting position and a GI "loop" sling. The target is the "Quick and Dirty AQT," which is an Army "head and shoulders" silhouette target reduced in size to simulate 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards. All shooting is done from 25 meters; hence the reduced target size. Appleseed is also chock full of Revolutionary War history, with lessons on the "Three Strikes" that led to the war, and how American volunteer milita outshot the British due to their superior marksmanship and unconventional tactics.
Day one started early, with well over 20 shooters from 10-70 years old, male and female. We had a brief introduction, a safety briefing, and then we started with a detailed explanation of the prone shooting position and employment of the GI web sling, in a "loop" configuration. After demonstrating the position, the instructors had us set up our targets, equipment, and rifles on the firing line. We then shot a "diagnostic" target to get a baseline for our individual skill levels. Following this were several practice rounds on 1" square targets to get more familiar with the shooting position and sling use.
After a nice lunch break, Instructor Darrell gave us our first history lesson. After this very eloquent presentation, "Shoot Boss" Derrick explained the 6 Steps of Firing the Shot, and then presented the sitting and standing positions while Instructor Brandon demonstrated. We returned to the firing line and spent several more hours practicing these new skills. We also learned the "Hasty Sling" and "Hasty Hasty Sling" methods for standing support. Before leaving for the day, we finally got the opportunity to fire the AQT. No one earned the coveted "Rifleman" patch that day, but I came the closest––and vowed to get the last 15 points the next day.
Sunday began early for those of us who chose to forego church services, and we started with two more "Strikes" from Darrell and Brandon. We also had a lengthy dialogue with SB Derrick about our country's current situation, how we got there, who REALLY was to blame, and how WE could get it back. (BTW, we did all of this stuff in the morning because our host range, Moss Hill Sportsman's Club, had a "no shooting before 1 PM on Sunday" rule.) We had a brief lunch, and then it was back to shooting. This time, we did some more diagnostic drills, including several designed to test our Natural Point Of Aim (NPOA), and the "Ball and Dummy" drill, which revealed flinches and other problems which could lead to a miss.
After a couple hours of these drills, we were presented with another opportunity to fire the AQT, and this time I felt confident I had achieved a "Rifleman's" victory.
We next fired a modified AQT, called the "Bloody Underwear," since the silhouettes were red in color and the target was turned upside down. I didn't do nearly as well on this one, but I think that was due to my confidence in the first AQT.
Shooters were then allowed to bring in equipment off the firing line, while the instructors tallied the scores. In the end, I was able to achieve "Rifleman" status, and I was awarded with the coveted patch, as well as some other goodies.
I was also asked to become an Instructor In Training, which completely floored me!
I graciously accepted the "Orange Hat" of an IIT.
So there's the (very general) review. Now for my thoughts: First, this course isn't tacticool, but it will make you a MUCH better marksman. The fundamentals presented in Appleseed are an exceptional foundation for building more advanced skills. It had been 10+ years since I used any of the sling methods or positions in Appleseed, and I had forgot how much they contributed to long-distance accuracy. The $70 for the two days was money well spent, absolutely. Also, these same fundamentals can be adapted and/or carried over to other situations and methods.
Second, the instructors were absolutely top-notch, especially when you consider they're all volunteers! They had incredible knowledge, proficiency, and patience with us, and it was very appreciated. They were very driven to do their work, and I felt both honored and humbled to be present with men of such character.
Third, the participants reflected a broad cross-section of our society: Men, women, young, old, students, retirees, doctors, teachers, cops, military––you name it. We all seemed to have two things in common: A love of shooting, and a love of our country. I couldn't have asked for a better group of Americans to spend a weekend with.
Finally, the equipment was as varied as the people were: ARs of various flavors, 10/22s, a Mini-14, and a bolt action Marlin. Most had open sights, but a couple had scopes. Most had some type of sling mounts, but a few had no provision to mount them––the latter shooters persevered in spite of this. A few things that make life better: A good shooting mat, knee/elbow pads, and a USGI M14 web sling.
For more information on Appleseed, click here