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8/12/12

Things I wish I knew before going to Appleseed

Photo from RWVA's facebook page
I had a lot of questions before I did my first Appleseed, so I'll try to answer all of my own questions I had before I actually went to one.  I'm also including my friends' questions here.  Here is the after action report: Appleseed tips from my first time out.  Keep in mind that I'm not an Appleseed instructor, and I've only been to the 1st day.  But the first day is when most of the fundamentals instruction happens.  I'm not an 'expert' at Appleseed.  The experts are the instructors, instructors in training, and other members who organize the events.  But from one participant to another, I hope you find the following to be helpful.


1. How many mags do I actually need?
You need two magazines for most events.  The 5 magazines that is recommended by the RWVA would be nice, because you can have your magazines ready for the next two stages and one spare just in case you lose one or one breaks.  In order to save time, you should ask the shoot boss how many rounds you need to load for the next stage as soon as it is possible, after cease fire is called.  Then load up before he/she calls prep.

One note: I did read that a minority of Appleseed events, probably in an effort to save time, have you load up all 40 rounds and run through all the stages without reloads or chances to prep your magazines.  In this case you would need 4 magazines if you have a 10/22.  I would call ahead and ask, then decide whether to buy more magazines or not.  That is a shame though, because I thoroughly enjoyed the additional 'counting' element that forces you to be more aware and conscious.

2. When do I have time to load, sling up, etc?
Before each shooting stage, whether it is a practice stage or a stage from the AQT, the shoot boss will call the prep period.  This may be long or short; I think it is the shoot boss' discretion.  During this time, you can pretty much do anything to get ready.  But it is best spent slinging up, and getting into your position and finding your natural point of aim.

3. Is the history lesson and other talks really political/crazy/extreme?
It is a bit of a pet peeve of mine to see gunowners blindly bash Obama, talk shit about democrats, and generally be really ignorant.  I'm a libertarian with slightly conservative values myself, but since most people who blindly and constantly bash the other side or pick and choose their favorite parts of the constitution are pretty ignorant, it bothers me that so many gunowners fall into this category and makes us look crazy.  That being said, I think the RWVA did a great, great job keeping true to the original intent of the organization.  We were told a narrative that really helps you put into perspective of what it would have been like to be at the revolutionary war.  The only political message I heard was that we should actively participate in preserving our liberty.  No finger-pointing, no bashing, and
'crazy' gun talk was limited to how many guns you should own, and was jokingly said to begin with (which ranges from one to infinity.. hah)

I did hear that some instructors go a bit too far and start talking about things outside the scope of RWVA.  It not supposed be like that, and I think it is the exception to the rule.

Can you tell I was pretty impressed by the event?

4. So what time should I get there?
If you were like me, you may have spent hours searching for the start time of the Appleseed event you registered for.  The official start time is 8:30.  I'd get there at 8:00AM or before, to help set up the equipment.

5. What time does it end?
I can't speak for all events, but it seemed to go on as long as necessary.  You will get so much more than what you paid for!  My event was over close to 7PM.  It was awesome because the instructors really took the time to help us out, and stayed late to squeeze in two AQTs

6. I've been shooting for a long time. Is the AQT that hard?
I think so, even if you are really good.  Remember, you'll be outside, hot, tired, sometimes with the sun glaring into your eyes.  Also, you can't afford to make many mistakes.   The nature of rifle marksmanship seems to be centered around that concept.  You gotta get the planets in alignment, and squeeze off the round properly within a very small time window.  And you have to do that 40 times, in about 10 minutes with a lot of terms and conditions attached to the order of those shots.  At my first AQT, I did well my first two stages; my instructor told me I was right on track 'medal position.'  Then I screwed up my 3rd stage.  I was so sure I wasn't going to qualify, since the last stage is really tough.  This was the deciding moment for me; for your 'deciding moments,' you can either let it bother you, or you can do the only thing you can do-- do everything you were taught to do and extract the best performance out of yourself.

7. I want to bring my AR-15.  Whats the best rifle to bring?
I think if you are really serious about qualifying and you haven't yet, I would bring a Liberty Training Rifle built around a magazine fed .22 rifle.  Not that you really need an LTR to qualify, but I am a firm believer in 'not leaving anything on the table.'  Furthermore, off the bench, I do shoot my AR-15 better.  But shooting my AR would have tired me out a lot faster.  Besides dude, look at the ammo costs.  It is actually cheaper to build an LTR then buying 3-500 rounds of 5.56mm.

After you make Rifleman, you can do whatever you want.

8. Do I really need a sling?  Does it really help?
Hell the f*** yes.  Unless you are an amazingly good shooter.  Buy why give up anything?  Get the GI cotton sling.  1.5" is best, but I did fine with my 1" sling.  The leather one is actually better, but takes a long time to set up and get it right.

9. What can I do to get ready?
I think the single most important thing for me was dry fire practice.  But practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.  Its easy to train bad habits, so I would focus on getting sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger from the standing position.  If it is your goal to pass on the first try, as it was my goal, you might want to do more.  But be very careful to make sure what you are practicing is the correct method.  Oh, also, get in good shape.  Start jogging a few miles every day a few months out from the event.  And when you are at the event, conserve energy whenever you can.
This patch is what you want, and you will earn it.

10. What do I really, really have to bring?
Long pants, substantial shoes, sunblock, shaded shooting glasses, hat, weapon, mags, ammo, sling, sight adjustment tool, plenty of food (nothing heavy, but substantial), water (lots of water), pen/marker, tape or stapler, shooting mat (get a big one!), and a lawn chair if you don't like sitting on the ground.  I think these are the bare essentials.  Anything less you'd be wasting time trying to borrow from your neighbor.  Anything more, you'll be out worrying where you put your shit, etc.  The RWVA website tells you to bring clear safety glasses, but I think shaded ones are better, unless you know it is not going to be sunny.  In fact, my eyes would have been very very tired towards the end of the day, when you need to be at your best for the AQT.

11.  What are the 6 steps to shooting a rifle, Natural Point of Aim, Rifleman's Cadence, etc?
I think you should go to an Appleseed event and hear from the instructors yourself!

Photo credits: Kelly Robertson Farms - http://www.krfarm.net

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