More Appleseed

There seems to be the general consensus that I absolutely need to try an Appleseed before I knock it, and until then, I am simply unqualified to question or comment.  Let me call bullshit on that.  Many thousands of years ago, human beings developed this thing called language, where we learned to relay and communicate experiences to others, so that they may benefit from knowledge without the need to have to experience things first hand.

PDB has made some solid, and I think well founded criticisms of the program.  I questioned whether the packaging was really conducive to keeping shooters interested and getting them to want to come back to shooting.  People have provided antecdotal evidence that it’s a wonderful program, and everyone has a great time and folks come back again and again to get themselves out of the kitchen, so to speak.  I have no doubt that many people enjoy it, because shooting is pretty fun, after all.  But does everyone?  What about the people that walk away thinking this isn’t for them?  Would they have enjoyed themselves in a better, more carefully crafted training program?  I also question where all the money is going.  Pulling their form 990s, they are spending almost a quarter of their 80k a year budget on travel.  That’s not necessarily wrong, but it does raise some questions in my mind about what a 23k a year travel budget is accomplishing for the organization.  Most of their budget, about half, is going into the bank.  That’s not unusual for a non-proifit just starting out, but what projects or purpose are they saving nearly half the yearly budget for?

Egregious Charles says in the comments:

I know they’re doing it wrong and I haven’t been there.  How do I know?  Because I’m interested in bettering my rifle skills, have spent thousands on rifle training (much of that was actually for the travel and ammo), and looked at Appleseed material online and thought I’d rather not go there.

It’s an unconcious phenomenon you see all the time in martial arts schools.  They pick a fairly unusual and specific technique: in this case, the sling, now abandoned by the world’s best military.  Then they say that anyone who does not know this technique is not a real maritial artist: in this case, is a ‘cook’ not a ‘rifleman’.  This enables them to feel exclusive and vastly superior to everyone else, and requires of them only a relatively small investment in practice.  It’s a psychological trap.  I predict getting others involved will become more and more a cover for an unconcious goal of demonstrating their superiority to the cooks.

Note that this criticism is totally unconnected to whether the sling is a good and valuable technique.  I bet it is.  I’d certainly like to learn it.  It is connected to whether the sling is an essential requirement.  Modern militaries clearly demonstrate that it is not.  Appleseed says what do they know?  They’re all cooks!

Also a fair criticism.

UPDATE: I should probably point out that I’m not at all criticizing the idea that it’s a great good to bring new shooters into the sport.  Or that it’s a great idea to teach people rifle marksmanship.  I’m not even going to heavily criticize teaching use of a sling.  But I will take issue with selling it as the one true path to being a rifleman in the tradition of the revolutionary war soldier, whatever that means.

14 thoughts on “More Appleseed”

  1. As one of the few non-shooters that read this blog regularly, I have to say that if I went to one of these things and they did the whole 13 shots to start it off thing, at best I’d think it was corny, and at worse I’d be wondering what kind of weirdo militia I just got involved with.

    Also, I don’t need to actually go to one to get that impression, just like I don’t need to stick my hand into a pot of boiling water to know I wouldn’t enjoy the experience. If half the people that resort to the “don’t knock it ’til you try it” criticism always held true to that, there would probably be a hell of a lot more homosexuals in the world.

  2. I’m not saying it is good or bad… but it is probably right for some people and not others. I wouldn’t recommend taking a complete newbie to that kind of event… but it is one way to train. If someone decides to do appleseed, they should not limit themselves only to appleseed. Makes sense to diversify your training a bit.

  3. I still think you’re criticizing Appleseed for your perception that it falls short at a purpose it doesn’t claim to serve. It may well be true that for initially luring Suzie Soccer Mom into the ranks of shooters, some kind of “kinder, gentler” program would be more appropriate. Fine–there are many such programs available. Appleseed, it seems to me, is geared to furthering the proficiency of people who already have aspirations of being riflemen (and riflewomen–“riflepeople” just sounds dumb) in a Constitutional militia.

    As to your calling “bullshit” on the assertion that your utter lack of firsthand knowledge of Appleseed renders you less than eminently qualified to pass judgment on it–fair enough, but then you go on to seemingly dismiss the (rather numerous, and very enthusiastic) “anecdotes” praising the experience. Am I to understand that your opinion, forged in the fiery crucible of your studious avoidance of Appleseed, is more valid than those the people who have allowed their minds to become clouded and polluted with firsthand experience? That’s going to be a hard sell.

  4. It may well be true that for initially luring Suzie Soccer Mom into the ranks of shooters, some kind of “kinder, gentler” program would be more appropriate. Fine–there are many such programs available. Appleseed, it seems to me, is geared to furthering the proficiency of people who already have aspirations of being riflemen (and riflewomen–”riflepeople” just sounds dumb) in a Constitutional militia.

    This may be useful information, but I’ve heard exactly the opposite from Appleseed people.

    Am I to understand that your opinion, forged in the fiery crucible of your studious avoidance of Appleseed, is more valid than those the people who have allowed their minds to become clouded and polluted with firsthand experience? That’s going to be a hard sell.

    Look, as a former business owner, retail store manager, supervisor and QA tech, let me tell you that positive feedback means exactly jack and shit. Particularly in an event where the participants are trying to attain the approval of the organizers! You’re not going to get accurate information, you’re going to get what they think you want to hear.

    Since we’ve taken contrary positions, we’ve been hearing more and more from dissatisfied Appleseed shooters. If the organization is dead set against listening to criticism, then what the hell use is it?

  5. It sounds perfect for me. I’ve just started shooting a few years ago, pistol at paper targets and shotguns at clays. I don’t know the first thing about handling the rifle (bought a Mini-14 that is fun, but I don’t know how to use it proficiently). Most importantly, I love their message. If I can train with a rifle with others who value the struggle to become free….. in the past….that’s very attractive. I’ll be looking for an Appleseed event near me.

  6. I Second Gregory Morris’ thoughts.

    I just went back and read PDB’s original gripe with Appleseed and he does make some very good points.

    I strongly disagree about the sling though. Is a sling appropriate for every situation? Of course not. A hammer isn’t very useful as your only tool either.

    But it can make a huge difference in accurate shooting…especially at long ranges…when the time to set it up (less than a minute with practice) presents itself.

    The biggest problem I have with all of this is the penchant that some people seem to have with wantonly criticizing others’ efforts.

    This is no different, in my humble opinion, than hunters throwing target shooters under the bus, or sporting clay shooters declaring that handgunning isn’t really a sport.

    It gets very tiresome.

  7. I’m not throwing anyone under the bus. I’m not even meaning to discourage Appleseed. I’m offering my opinion on their program, and suggesting where I think they could improve their program. They don’t have to listen to me. I have a different philosophy for introducing beginner shooters than they do, for sure.

  8. have a different philosophy for introducing beginner shooters than they do, for sure.

    But is “introducing beginner shooters” what we’re talking about here? From Appleseed’s website, that’s not the impression I get (excerpt):

    We invite all interested marksmen to learn the skills and techniques necessary to shoot proficiently . . .

    “Interested marksmen” would be an unusual way to refer to beginner shooters, would it not?

  9. Well, I’ll go right out and disagree with you.

    I’ve got more than a little Army experience under my belt, about 36 years of it, in fact, most of it Army Guard, but the first 10+ years were Regular Army. I’m an NCO, so you know. Doesn’t make me special, but it does mean I might have a clue as to exactly what the Army teaches and has taught over the past 36 years.

    Teaching the sling went out years ago, with the Army, and they’re starting to regret that. That being said, the Marines never quit using the sling, and they shoot even better than us Army pukes.

    Yeah, some of what you’re saying is not just biased, but blatantly wrong info. 1907 sling? Most (not all) of the Appleseed Instructors don’t really know the 1907 sling well enough to teach it. Some do though. What gets taught is the loop sling, and, believe it or not, these were THE slings used up to the issue of the M16A2 in the early ’80’s. The web slings are still in the military system, though rarely used.

    Military match shooters use what Appleseed calls a “Hasty sling”, and if you think that’s bad to use, think again. That’s been taught on the civilian side for years.

    I’m also going to tell you how I know about the program. I’m one of the Instructors. Was I initially hesitant, thinking it might be a “militia thing”? Yup. But I went and checked it out anyways. I also found I was wrong.

    The use of a military/Army style program to teach marksmanship? Well, it’s worked for the past hundred or more years, and taught millions of people how to shoot. It’s been more effective than any other known program. Appleseed uses the initial part of the program, 25 meters (never was 25 yards, or 30 yards, was 1000 inch before, because zeroing at 1000 inch or 25 meters gives you a 200 meter Battlesight zero with the M1 or M14, and a 300 meter Battlesight zero with the M16A1/A2).

    Is Appleseed the end of where you should be, marksmanship wise? No, it’s a beginning.

    I see in the other blog thread a few of those comments. Seems to me, there’s some bad blood flowing here. A few names that are vaguely familiar, too.

    PDB, I am in business (part time), and I know your repeat customers make or break you. I know the rule of 3’s and 9’s (happy customer tells 3, unhappy customer tells 9).

    I also can tell you those anecdotes and comments are largely true.

    How do I know? People that aren’t happy, don’t come back again and again, and they don’t tell their friends either. Somebody that hated the program wouldn’t blab all over a different forum how much they loved it, and how much others should go.

    Is Project Appleseed for everybody? Of course not. We really don’t try to be. But we do try to reach out to all those that want to learn how to shoot. We’re doing what we can and what we know to try to fix the country. We’re doing that by waking people up to the erosion of our rights and instilling some awareness of what are forefathers did for us.

    What are you folks doing, other than posting on-line?

  10. What are you folks doing, other than posting on-line?

    Mostly trying to organize gun owners in my county to defeat my Congressman who has signed onto an assault weapons bill that would ban most of the rifles you guys use to teach Appleseed.

    Your disagreement with me makes a strong case and is welcome, Unmentioned.

  11. Well, I’ll come right and say you’re doing much more than most folks are.

    Thank you for doing that.

  12. Hi Folks.

    This is my first post here after a long time of lurking. BTW, I love your site Sebastian.

    Here’s my background. I started shooting about 3 years ago. In that time I picked up a 9mm pistol (Start M-43), a yugo SKS, a K-31, a 91/30, and a Finnish M-39.

    I’d shoot those at the range and have fun. However, I had never received any formal instruction. I heard about the appleseed shoots off of the site.

    I admit that I wondered about the whole tie in to the revolutionary war, but when they came to my area (right here in SE PA) and I saw how much it cost (i.e. not a lot) I figured that I’d give it a try. I could only attend for one day due to scheduling conflicts.

    They do start you off with a little history lesson and the 13 shots representing the 13 colonies. Corny? Some might see it that way, but I didn’t. I just took it as a little history lesson and a way to reflect on what I might have been called upon to do 200+ years ago. It is the history of our country.

    Not at any time did I worry I had just signed up for any “wacky militia.” :-)

    Once we finished with the history talk, we learned a little about shooting.
    I never felt that were trying to teach me the “one path” to shooting properly. They were just trying to teach me some basics of shooting and two ways to use a sling. Use of a sling was not required and many people there didn’t have one.

    The instructors that helped us were nothing but friendly and informative.

    If they come through again, I’m definitely signing up. Why?

    Basically because I had a fun time. I don’t get to shoot as often as I’d like and it was a cheap and easy way for me to get out to a range, meet others interested in shooting and learn a little bit.

    I’ve seen criticism on other sites that the level of instruction wasn’t up to some people’s expectation. My take on that is sn appleseed shoot isn’t a week long intensive sniper school. :-)

    It’s a two day introduction to shooting for something like $35 a day taught by volunteers who are trying to do their best.

    If you have years of experience and have already participated in some competitions, you MIGHT not get anything out of it. However, I really enjoyed it.

    At the time, I wanted to bring my K31 but I didn’t think I could afford the ammo for it. We went through about 300 rounds. Instead I brought my SKS. There were people there with AR15s, M1A1s, Garands, .35 Remington lever actions, 22s, CZ bolt action in 7.62×39 and some AK style rifles.


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