Project Appleseed uses “rifle marksmanship instruction as a gateway to help bring our nation’s history to life and to show that many of the values that our forefathers relied on to win our Independence are still very much in demand today.”

Read more on their site.

Appleseed instructors teach basic rifle skills while weaving in stories from the Revolutionary War.

Learning rifle marksmanship skills in this historical context makes the learning experience more meaningful.

  • You will learn how to shoot a rifle.
  • You learn about the Revolutionary War.
  • You’ll leave with a renewed appreciation of the freedoms the founding fathers fought for.

You will enjoy the experience regardless of which political party you align yourself with. They are a non-partisan group. They purposefully don’t talk about modern day politics. They aim to awaken a sense of patriotism without skewing it toward a political agenda.

They do not sell items at the events. I mentioned a few times that I wished they sold the sling at the event. (I had bought the wrong type of sling for us.) They said they have decided not to sell items at the events because they don’t want sales pitches to degrade their overall mission and message. It’s a respectable decision. But it means that if you want any of the Appleseed products you will have to order it from their online store before your event. (For a procrastinator like me that’s easier said than done!)

The Shooting Positions

You learn to shoot from 3 positions:

  • prone (lying on the ground)
  • sitting
  • standing

You learn proper techniques for each individually.

The key to all 3 positions is understanding “Natural Point of Aim.” It took a while to really grasp it. Once it clicked it was transformational.

Basically, it means that instead of moving your arms to line up your sights, you learn how to shift your hips to make microadjustments to shift your aim.

Prone

I wasn’t excited about lying on the ground at first but it became my favorite. It was definitely the easiest.

Sitting

I expected this would be my favorite position. However, I found it was my least favorite. I didn’t like the elbow on the knee area. (I concluded I have fat knees and bony elbows because this position was super uncomfortable and difficult for me to achieve properly.)

Standing

Since you don’t have ground or knees to support for your elbows while standing, this is the most challenging position. (It was very difficult for me with the heavier AR.)

Gear

Rifles

You don’t necessarily have to own a rifle to participate. They will try to get a loaner rifle for you if you communicate with them ahead of time. Several participants in our session were using loaners.

Some events only allow .22 rifles. The particular event we went to (Wilmington, OH) allowed both rimfire and centerfire. Basically it depends on the range where the event is held. It indicates on the information page for each event what is permitted.

We took two ARs (for me and my husband) and two .22 rifles (for our boys). I wanted to become proficient with my AR so it made sense to take it. We were surprised to find out that we were the only ones who brought ARs.

One of the friendly instructors had an extra .22 in his car. Good thing because I quickly learned that my AR was heavy! My husband stuck with the AR for the weekend but I mostly used the loaner .22. I’ll be getting a third .22 rifle for our family before attending our next Project Appleseed event!

Most participants were using Ruger 10/22 rifles. My husband researched it heavily and decided to buy the Thomspon Center T/CR22 for our boys. It is almost identical to the Ruger 10/22. It can take the ruger 10/22 magazines.

The loaner I used was a Ruger 10/22. It did feel very similar to the T/CR22. But the small detail of bolt staying open when the magazine was empty was kind of magical. This is something the Thompson does that the Ruger doesn’t. The bolt is much harder to lock to the rear on the Ruger.

(This was one of the more helpful articles we read comparing these two similar rifles.)

Scopes

We didnt have scopes on our boys .22 rifles. We thought a scope defeated the purpose. We thought we were going to learn to shoot like the founding fathers. Well we were the only participants without fancy scopes!

You’ll be much happier with a scope. You’ll do better. Everything is more fun when you feel successful!

The borrowed .22 rifle had a nice scope on it. I let my boys shoot the borrowed rifle some and me using their rifles some. We will get scopes for their .22s before our next event!

Shooting Mat

I bought us shooting mats the night before. (I’m a major procrastinator.) They were $60 each and were my only option at that point because it was the only thing I could find local. I could only find 3 in stock. Hubby used his opened rifle case paired with a red yoga mat as a make-shift solution.

Don’t get a mat with black areas. They become very hot in the sun!!

The Appleseed Shooting Mat available on the Appleseed online store is nice and half the price! Almost everyone at the event had the Appleseed mat. I was wishing I had planned ahead better and got us 4 of those. I’ll get one of those for a fourth mat for us for next time.

Sling

You’ll also need a “sling“. I went out the night before to buy slings. I wasted money buying 4 of the wrong thing. Make your life easier…. just order the slings off their website! I ordered 4 to get us so I’ll be prepared next time.

If you are in a pinch and don’t have time to order one from Appleseed’s Online Shop, here is one on Amazon. It comes in green or black.

This is the proper style of sling. It’s not a sling that you use for carrying the rifle. It’s a sling you use to attach the rifle to yourself while shooting. It acts as a stabilizer. You make a loop on one end and attach it around your bicep area.

It’s a pretty big part of the training. You might think “eh, I’ll be fine without it”. Once you get there you’ll wish you had it.

Kids & Appleseed

Project Appleseed allows kids to participate as long as it is legal in that state for the child to handle the rifle. (And kids are $25 instead of $65!) My youngest stayed with grandma. My 10 & 12 year old participated. It was a really neat family experience.

I’ll admit having the kids there made the weekend a little harder for me. It split my attention at times. I wanted to focus on my own skills and learning but I also wanted to help my kids be successful.

We actually left the training 2 hours early on Sunday because the kids just hit their limit. In all fairness, it is a long weekend even for adults! There is so much to soak up. The were mentally fatigued by mid-day Sunday and weren’t shooting as well. When you aren’t doing well you kind of lose interest.

Overall I’m glad I took them with us. It was a worthwhile learning experience for them. And we made good family memories.

The instructors were very patient. They were always friendly toward the kids.

At one point when my kids seemed to be getting bored with the standard targets and standard course of fire, one of the instructors went to his car to get a splatter target shaped like a duck. Instead of doing the normal course of fire where we went from prone to sitting to standing doing a designated number of shots in each position before going to the next, he told my son to just do sitting (his favorite) and shoot the duck target.

Instruction

The Appleseed Instructors

There was a team of instructors. They were all awesome. They each had different strengths and they really complemented each other well as a whole.

The instructors are volunteers. They do it because they love it and they want to share their passion with as many people as possible. For being such a low cost training experience, the quality of the instruction was mind blowing. The 2020 prices are $65 for a 2 day training. That’s crazy cheap!

The Lessons

Each lesson is very short and then followed up with immediate hands on practice of that concept. They cut rifle marksmanship skills up into bite sized pieces that are easy to digest.

Because the lessons are short and the day is mostly hands on, the experience is engaging and fun.

It was an intense weekend. I learned a ton!

The Targets

The two basic targets used are:

The Redcoats targets

The Qualification Target

Safety

The event was ran very safely. I never felt uneasy. (I have visited other training events that made me feel uneasy! I often feel uneasy at the local ranges.) Appleseed had safety paramount.

Everyone has to leave their rifles in their cars until after the safety brief is completed. They communicate the expectations clearly and the work diligently to enforce those expectations. They are specific in those expectations. For example, they showed us exactly how they wanted rifles (even those in cases) carried.

There were 4 instructors for our group of 22 students. These instructors were actively monitoring the safety the entire time. If we were down range hanging targets and someone approached their mat to pick up something, an instructor would quickly remind them (as friendly as possible) not to go near the guns while people were down range. They watched the line like hawks.

Adaptable Experience

Like I already explained, they offered my kids some alternatives. They let them shoot in the seated position even when we were doing other positions. And they offered them different targets.

There was an older couple at our event. The instructors set this couple up at a table and adapted the instruction for them. You can see that table by the purple arrow in this picture.

The teal arrow shows an instructor down on the ground helping a student.

Types of Appleseed Events

You can go to their site to see the upcoming events in your state. Here is a screenshot of the upcoming 2020 events in Ohio. “Info” is how you get to seeing more about the events. Pick your state on their website to see a listing of events in your state.

Notice there are some events designated as LadySeed events. These are “ladies only”.

Some events are designated as Known Distance (KD). At these events you shoot at longer distances. You have to have attended at least one regular Appleseed before you can do a KD Appleseed.

Tips

Chairs/Tents/Tables

We were the only first timers at the Appleseed event we attended . We showed up the first day with 2 folding chairs. The days are long. We should have had a chair for each of us.

The second day we brought more chairs and this table. As a family of 4 we had ALOT of gear! It was nice having tabletop area. We were the only ones with a table but I found it very helpful.

Staple Gun

Consider a staple gun a required tool for the weekend. I bought one the night before our training. In hindsight I wish I had bought two. I kept our staple gun and extra staples in this bright plastic pencil box on the table so it was easy to find. (I like when everything has a home!)

I bought this Stanley TR45 light duty staple gun from Walmart around midnight the day of our training. Have I mentioned that I am a procrastinator? It was around $10. It did the job.

It is a fast paced day. They are passionate about teaching you as much as they can. You constantly go down range to staple up targets then hustle back to get ready to shoot. We were always the last ones back. Waiting to get the staple gun from each other to get our targets hung made us slower during target changes.

The instructors were kind but were annoyed. They told us more than once to hurry. Having kids with us definitely made it more challenging to be quick during target changes. More staple guns would have made it faster.

When you are stapling targets for 4 people you go through staples really quick! I walked all the way down range several times just to realize the staple gun was out of staples! Ooph! I got smarter about it as the weekend went on.

Ear Protection

We brought 4 pairs of our favorite electronic ear muffs. I love these muffs. They have served me great shooting pistols over the years…… but trying to get your face right up on the rifle with ear muffs on was kinda awkward.

Before our next event I’m going to figure out an “in ear” option. I didn’t want to invest a ton of money so I ordered these.

I’m not sure they are going to work for me. I followed the instructions but I’m not getting a good seal. I have to try remolding them and maybe using the smaller inserts this time. It’s going to take some more tinkering.

I don’t want to spend the money but I might break down and buy the Rechargeable Bluetooth Walker Silencer Earbuds before I go to Appleseed in July!

Name Tag Markers

Appleseed will give you colored numbers (like the green 8 in the photo below). You staple the number near your target so you can tell which target is your when shooting. You are shooting from much farther back than you do with handguns so it’s harder to tell at a distance which one is yours.

Well I was an idiot and messed up a few times and shoot the wrong target. I had so many other things to remember to do while shooting. Thinking to check the number didn’t always cross my mind. My hubby printed our names on colored paper for the second day and I found that to keep me shooting only my target. 😉

Hot Casings / Clothes

That American Flag Under Armour hoodie my son is wearing in the picture above got a hole in it during the event. He was shooting in the prone position and hot casings from my gun flew over onto his mat. (I was on his left.) One worked its way under his arm and burnt a hole in his sleeve. Having those long sleeves meant his arm didn’t get burnt at least.

Later in the day, a hot casing worked it’s way under his shirt while in the prone position. It left a burn mark on his belly. A tucked in shirt could have prevented that.

I occasionally got hot casings under my arms/elbows in the prone position. The first day I had on a new hoodie I loved and I was nervous about getting a hole in the sleeve like my son had in his. The second day I made sure to wear something I didn’t care as much about just in case.

Their “What to Bring” PDF says to wear long sleeves and long pants. That was easy last time because we did an event in October. This year we are doing a July event. ☀ I’m going to have to think hard about what I’m going to wear.

You Should Try It!

It was truly an amazing experience. Most of the people who were there were returning students. They wanted to come back for more. After you try it once I bet you’ll want to do it again too!

I know I will be doing it again! I hope you’ll give it a try!

Find an Appleseed Event Near You.