I spent the last weekend at the Phoenix Appleseed Shoot in Arizona with a number of fellow shooters. I came with my wife, five children and my other best friend in tow. We resembled the Beverly Hillbillies pulling into the campground in my F350 crew cab truck and trailer that should require harbor navigation skills (notice that I don’t advocate licensure) on Friday night the day before the shoot. We were exhausted but excited after the four-hour trip from southern Arizona. Almost three-dozen shooters showed up for the training which is a fairly respectable turn-out.
What is an Appleseed Shoot? Fred, the proprietor of Fred’s M14 Stocks and famous for long freedom polemics (in a print size old people can’t read) in Shotgun News, started and built the program. The Revolutionary War Veterans Association is an umbrella organization that was created to bridge the gap between the Founding of the nation and the present day through educational outreach. It started as a venture to bring history alive and revive the principles that animated our divorce from George III (the other George) from whence was born the Appleseed Project whose modest goal is to create one million new Riflemen in America. To wit:
"The Appleseed Program is designed to take you from being a simple rifle owner to being a true rifleman. All throughout American history, the rifleman has been defined as a marksman capable of hitting a man-sized target from 500 yards away — no ifs, ands or buts about it. This 500-yard range is traditionally known as “the rifleman’s quarter-mile”; a rifleman can hit just about any target he can see. This skill was particularly evident in the birth of our country, and was the difference in winning the Revolutionary War."
Imagine a country that has a significant number in the population who can outshoot the standing army or any government muscle for that matter. Evidenced by the strategic standstill the insurgents have visited on the global military hyper-power with merely rifles and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device), world events should certainly give ambitious tyrants pause. In Afghanistan, some of the rifles employed were designed and issued in the 19th century. Yamamoto claimed that "[y]ou cannot invade America. There is a rifle behind every blade of grass." Speaking of the Swiss nod to the importance of the rifleman, Stephen Halbrook opines in a previous interview on LRC:
"Shortly before World War I, the German Kaiser was the guest of the Swiss government to observe military maneuvers. The Kaiser asked a Swiss militiaman: “You are 500,000 and you shoot well, but if we attack with 1,000,000 men what will you do?” The soldier replied: “We will shoot twice and go home.”
While this may be apocryphal, it certainly speaks to the spirit that brought the Redcoats to their knees during their bloody slogs in the First American Revolution. You would be hard-pressed to find a better contemporary example of the "rifleman deterrence" phenomenon than "Target: Switzerland" by Halbrook.
While the two-day soire we attended was primarily a shooting event, Appleseed intersperses fascinating narratives during the shooting day about the events of April 19th, 1775 that sparked the First American Revolution (the second, of course, being the War of Northern Aggression 1861—65) to free the colonials from British tyranny. The historical narratives provide a fascinating bridge between why guns and freedom are so intimately bound together.
This not my first Appleseed, I have been to one other when I lived in Idaho, but this was the first one where I brought the entire family. The tuition was seventy FRNs for the weekend for me. My wife and ALL of my children were free due to a special promotion to get the family on the firing line by the RWVA. I have children ranging in age from 11—20 and varying levels of weapon and rifle expertise. My wife even managed to outshoot me in the Quick and Dirty Army Qualification Test and I consider myself a fairly able rifleman. My children did equally well and soaked up the outstanding training offered. There is no paid staff for the shooting events, which occur nationwide. The four volunteers who ran this particular event were omni-competent, knowledgeable about the rifle craft and patient with the most trying circumstances. Think about that: four volunteers, two of whom drove from New Mexico, show up for two days of grueling training that consumed almost every daylight hour at the range to improve the shooting skills and historical knowledge of complete strangers. They pay for their own expenses for the most part. This should tickle the antennae of any freedom advocate. This is spontaneous order of the highest magnitude
The RWVA and Appleseed program are ostensibly apolitical but the self-selection of attendees certainly betrayed a pattern: the most Ron Paul regalia you would see outside of a meet-up and a crusty skepticism of government power from a variety of perspectives. One of the participants, Luca, a tall and delightfully accented Italian immigrant to America, waxed rather poetically about the promise of America, our historical amnesia and the necessity to reorder freedom by reviving our roots as a revolutionary project. The other folks came from every walk of life from businessman to biker to housewives.
The Shoot Boss was AZGromit and the three assistant trainers were AZRedhawk44, TaosGlock and BlueFeather (the Appleseed instructors use their forum handles at the shoot). They deserve public recognition as an example of the volunteer spirit and more importantly, the contribution to waking up the sleeping giant in America.
The Appleseed Project has struck a match. It has become an integral part of our homeschool curriculum now.