You didn't buy that, did you? That's why I like you. You're smart.
Before we start, let me get this out of the way: I haven't been to an Appleseed event. Ever.
What I have done is take an old Garand and go shoot NRA Highpower competition at a local 200-yard range. It was three-position stuff, standing, sitting and prone, with smaller targets to simulate going out to 600 yards (nobody told me until I'd been there a few times that these targets were not the standard 200-yard targets; I only knew that some targets were bigger than others and I sucked at the smaller ones.) I learned a lot doing this, but most of what I learned concerned how little I knew and how little skill I really had. It had a lot in common with USPSA "run 'n gun trigger-slapper" pistol competition in that regard, actually.
- I had very little idea how the rifle should be supported in any of the positions; I spent a lot of time shifting around.
- I knew I needed to let some breath out and quiet my breathing, but I wasn't very good at it.
- I knew I needed to find what the Appleseeders call my "natural point of aim" or NPOA, but again, I was bad at it, and knowing that I should be good at it didn't seem to be enough to get hits.
- I did not have a sling on the rifle, nor did I have any idea how to use one as an aid to marksmanship.
- I did not know how to adjust my sights, and I frankly thought doing so was more a crutch than anything--until I perforated the steel lane number sign about 13 times in one round with my loosey-goosey sights adjusted for about 50 yards. Windage was sweet, though.
I understand the argument that you're not ready to fight a guerilla action against crack Imperial Stormtroopers (the crack ones still miss, but they don't give away their positions as quickly) just because you can hit man-sized targets out to 600 yards. But it IS a basic skill, and if you can't hit that target on demand at closer ranges, it won't matter much that you also can't hit a moving, camouflaged target on demand. I used to get this argument from karateka a lot. They'd argue that people who studied MMA, or BJJ, or whatever were limited in their approach. All we did was drill basics over and over and over. "That's beginners' stuff!" they'd tell me. "You won't want to go to the ground when the other guy has five friends waiting to put the boots to you while you're down there!"
Well, sure. That was true as far as it went. What that argument missed was that all the fancy stuff they were learning was being applied against air and unresisting "ukes"--people who knew their role was to let the technique work. They couldn't do their fancy techniques on demand against one opponent who was doing his best to stop them or pull off his own technique--but they were lecturing a man who could stop one opponent because he couldn't take five at once!
I feel that way about Appleseed. If you've mastered the basics and moved on, good for you. But I haven't. If you can do all the run 'n gun stuff with your rifle out to the ranges you want, then you might have no use for Appleseed. That's OK. We don't have to like the same stuff just because I'm crazy about you. Another common argument goes like this:
"Appleseed claims to be the gateway for new shooters, but it's way too hard and the wacko stuff about redcoats and the U.N. will scare new shooters away."
And that may be true. On the other hand, I've seen several new shooters introduced by way of a visit to a gun show, and if you've never met a true nutcase at a gun show, you ain't trying very hard. These people think guns and war and shooting people are neat, and they think that's what the rest of us are into, too. We'll never be completely rid of them. Sometimes, they may show up at Appleseed shoots, too--but then I've encountered racists and conspiracy theorists in many places. Ambulance services, tee-ball leagues, checkout lines at big box stores . . . .
For my own part, I think Appleseed may be aimed--very deliberately--at gun owners in about my stage of development. Think of their motto--something about "Don't be a gun owner, be a rifleman" isn't it? What does that mean?
It might mean that they think there are a lot of guys like me. Guys who owned several rifles and knew they couldn't hit anything past 100 yards to save their lives with a single one. Guys who owned battle rifles in calibers designed to put game or enemies down at extended ranges, but realized (or didn't, which would be far worse) that they'd have to rely on dumb luck to get hits at those ranges. Guys who could not really be called new to guns, but couldn't really be called "riflemen" or even "shooters" very honestly.
Monkeys with circular saws, in other words. People with finely-crafted tools who could do no more than admire the craftsmanship and think how cool it would be if they really knew how to use them to their full potential. So maybe what Appleseed is looking for is the transition between the casual gun owner who can't really shoot and the rifleman who has the basic skills to learn all that nifty combat stuff, or train for that elk hunt he's dreamed about, or have fun with his buddies on Sunday mornings at the highpower matches. And if somebody brings a new guy, he's welcome. And if somebody brings a really good "tactical" shooter, or a three-gun guy who wants to try Appleseed's way, so much the better. But if they can turn a wannabe into a rifleman--even if just being a rifleman is not enough to take out the invading Alien/U.N. hybrids--it's still better than not even being a rifleman.
So yes, I plan on attending an Appleseed event, hopefully sometime this fall if one happens near enough. I won't be going to blog about it or have my mind changed. I wanted to go before. I actually planned on going to a shoot in a town called Chillicothe (think Peoria--that's pretty close) but then I got invited to Blackwater and all my funds went there. Will I make Rifleman? I don't know. Maybe not, the first time. Will I be better at the end? Well, Breda says so, and I don't really see how a couple of days of intensive shooting with feedback could hurt me too much. Will I have time to sling up when the narcoterrorist U.N. mercenaries are marching on my hometown? I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
IF. If I come to it. That's what I meant. Stop looking at me like that.