Today I am going to tell you about the best kept secret in the firearms community. It’s an event called Project Appleseed. It’s housed under a larger organization called the Revolutionary War Veterans Associated (RWVA). It is a non-profit group that trains civilians in basic marksmanship principles while also teaching the History of how the Revolutionary War began. From their website they describe their program as,
“Our events are typically two-day programs that teach the rifle marksmanship skills that were once commonly practiced in America. Our Instructors put in nearly 200 hours of training so they can teach the skills that will one day allow a Rifleman to be accurate out to 500 yards. This distance is known as the traditional “Rifleman’s Quarter Mile” and has been part of America’s marksmanship repertoire since our country’s earliest days.
During breaks, we’ll tell you the true story of the earliest days of our nation, including the detailed events of April 19, 1775. You may be surprised by what you hear.
Whether you’ve never fired a rifle before or you’re already a competitive shooter, no one who comes to a Project Appleseed event ever leaves the same. The new skills, history, and friendships are inspiring and life-changing.”
I first heard about this program last year from a military veteran. This wasn’t any veteran though. He helped write the Army Marksmanship manual after 22 years in the military. He speaks highly of what he learned at Project Appleseed and how it helped him become a better shooter. You can read about that here. What makes this program special is that it can take a solider with thousands of rounds down range, and a new guy off the street, and both can learn and improve at the same time. Perfect for beginner and experienced shooters alike.
Let me tell you a bit about the class structure. Its main focus is marksmanship fundamentals. I’ll get more into what that means later. The entry course is done at 25 yards. Targets are scaled down to represent distances of 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards. Just because the targets are only 25 yards away doesn’t mean it is easy. It will challenge you. Most shooters use a semi-automatic 22LR. Ammo is cheap and most guns are plenty accurate enough at 25 yards to make for effective training. But most ranges will allow bigger calibers, like 223 or 308. They have what they call a Appleseed Qualification Test. This will determine what level you are shooting at. The highest score you can get is 250. If you get a 210 or above, you qualify as a Rifleman, the highest rank. I’ll tell you right now that most people in a class won’t qualify as Rifleman. But it is not an impossible standard. It just takes applying the basics and practice. They have classes scheduled in most States. You can check on their website and see if they are hosting a class where you live.
They also mix in history lessons with the rifle instruction. Over the two days they teach you about the first shot heard round the world, and how the marksmanship abilities of the Colonists helped win the battle. It was nothing like what I heard in school, and I found it incredibly entertaining, heartbreaking, and inspiring at the same time. Learning what the Sons of Liberty sacrificed to establish this great Nation makes you appreciate what you have.
I attended my first Project Appleseed event in September of 2019. I went with my brother in law and we both decided to run it with AR-15s. I would highly recommend using a semi-automatic 22LR the first time you go. It will be a more pleasant experience for you and everyone around you. That being said, I wanted to train with the rifle I use, and that is my AR-15. The Shoot Boss as they call it, the main instructor, went by the name Prescott. He did a fantastic job. It was obvious how much he enjoyed teaching people to shoot and about history. He was a supporter of liberty and dedicated his time to teaching people the skills needed to preserve said liberty. He also had a group of assistant instructors that imparted their knowledge also and did a great job keeping everybody safe. There is a huge emphasis on firearms safety in the class, and that is a great thing. The teaching style was very well laid out. Teach the theory, demonstrate it, and then practice it. Review, revise, and practice again. They taught things like shooting from standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone. They taught the 6 steps to breaking a shot, natural point of aim, and how to sight in your rifle. Everything is done unsupported. No bipods, bags, etc. You learn to use your body and sling to create stable shooting platforms and get good hits on target. I was blown away by these simple techniques that made me see big improvements on my target. It was two days of hot and windy shooting mixed with history lessons. Lots of up and down movement, mag changes, weapon manipulation, etc. I saw my test score go from around 160 to 215 by the end of the first day!
I just finished my second Project Appleseed event this month. I went with my brother in law again, and we even got our wives to come along! That’s a big deal. We were worried they would hate us and never talk to us again, but believe it or not, they had a great time. I also invited my wife’s cousin, and that was a big mistake. The guy outshot me! He scored rifleman the very first test we took getting a 210 on the test, and on day two he scored a 240! He got a Distinguished Rifleman patch. He’s a top notch shooter who has had a lot of firearm instruction from other classes, but he still learned a lot and saw improvement in his shooting. Just another testament that this class works for anyone. My wife was able to put 5 shots into a 1” square from prone position with no additional rests besides her own elbows. That is amazing. As for me, I didn’t get that Distinguished patch I was going for, but I saw my scores go from a 215 last year up to a 236. I was also a lot more consistent. Out of the 6 tests we took, I scored between 219 and 236. Despite coming short of my goal, I was happy to see consistent improvement and I’m excited to try again next year.
Why am I telling you this? Well, to be a Minuteman, you must be capable of being ready to defend you and your family at a moment’s notice. Knowing how to use a rifle safely, efficiently, and accurately is an important and necessary component of that defense. I highly recommend Project Appleseed to get you started on that path, or to improve your capabilities if you are already on it. Edmund Burke famously said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I challenge you to do something. Get training, improve yourself, and while you’re at it, bring your kids with you and pass Liberty down to the next generation.