Is It Wrong to Criticize Good Intentions?

I’ve heard this particular criticism in more than a few quarters, and not just in regards to Appleseed:

The arrogance of thinking that any program that does not teach the way you do is “out of line” is just so bizarre, it is hard to fathom. Especially when we have such a high rate of success and happiness with the program.

I might poke fun at the people who are saying that Appleseed is a black helicopter program and is painfull,.. ouch!, or that we are fanatical and scary…or that we are not doing it right because we are not using their methods, but;

I would never diss another program for getting new shooters on the line, telling them about the history of their country and letting them know they are needed to help spread the 2A rights message.

How is this wrong by any stretch of the imagination? One or two guys maybe not completely thrilled, out of forty , with the rest really happy about their new rifle skills and willing to join in and defend the 2Amendment. This is a bad thing?

It’s not that there’s only one, true way to teach.  In fact, the vibe I initially got from Appleseed was quite a lot of the “one true way.”  That’s not what I’m saying at all.  But I am saying that it takes more than good intentions.  My original criticism centered around my initial belief that Appleseed was for newbie shooters.  A lot of people came on to tell me that I was wrong in this impression, and that it was intended for people who’ve already had exposure to firearms and the gun culture.  Fair enough.  But then I see people saying stuff like this:

For the host to say this is not for beginners is sadly laughable.  After half a day of instruction, my nephew is shooting in sitting position and scoring all shots on the 300 yard prone target, when he accidentally shot the wrong one.

I have no doubt that many will benefit from learning marksmanship.  But is it for newbie shooters, or for novice shooters that already have exposure to guns?  That’s a pretty key question.  If it’s for the latter, then a strenuous program I think is fine, but if it’s for the former, then I return to many of my original criticisms. I am not criticizing just for the sake of criticizing, or because I want to trivialize people’s hard work.  The ideas behind Appleseed; getting people into shooting, teaching marksmanship, and teaching history, are all worthwhile endeavors.  I don’t question the intention or the value of what’s behind it.  But I think results are more important than intentions.  I’m open to the idea that Appleseed is delivering those, but I don’t think that’s above question, nor above criticism. Does Appleseed hand out surveys to participants to gauge how they felt about the various aspects of the program, along with asking for suggestions on how it might possibly be improved?  If I were running a program, whether for newbie, novice, or expert shooters, I would certainly want this kind of feedback.  If that’s not being done, what would be the objection to doing it?

Getting new people into the community is vitally important.  Arguably the most important thing we can do.  I don’t blame anyone for wanting to get involved in something like that, and applaud them for doing so.  But I think it’s so important that those doing so be open to criticism and suggestion from the broader community, because ultimately this issue is about a lot more than just Appleseed, and it’s certainly about a lot more than “Fred”.  If we’re failing in a key aspect of outreach, we all suffer for that.  It’s important, critically important, to get it right.

5 thoughts on “Is It Wrong to Criticize Good Intentions?”

  1. At both of the shoots I attended, the level of experience ranged from “the bullet comes out that end, right? to; if things go south, I want him watching my back”.

    The instructors at both spent a great deal of time with the most inexperienced shooters. I was close to several and saw the improvement on their targets over time. As was said in the previous thread, you will get out of it what you put in. A basic skill level would allow any student to learn the most from a pretty intensive few hours. One thing I reall liked about the shoots was that there wasn’t any attempt to split people up into different classes. We were all in it together. I think that is an excellent compliment to the history portion of the class. I can understand how some people wouldn’t like that aspect, but they have other more competitive places to shoot.

    I didn’t have any formal surveys but the instructors were very open about suggestions for improvements. From attending way too many seminars of various types, I personaly don’t have much faith in that kind of method anyway. One on one discussions will be much more effective.

  2. In order for it to be more honest feedback, it needs to be anonymous, and needs to go to the national organization. Most people aren’t going to pipe up with suggestions, especially newbie and novice shooters. If they are asked by the instructors, it’s certainly going to be positive, even if that’s not really how they feel.

  3. At the Appleseeds I’ve attended, the instructors solicited criticism and advice. I think the question of who Appleseed is right for is not one of experience, but one of attitude. Is it a good program for fence sitters who aren’t really sure about trying this shooting stuff? In my opinion it isn’t. Is it a good program for people like me who have been pro-2A and pro-liberty for a long time, but haven’t had the opportunity to learn to shoot? Absolutely.

    I think the idea of signing up for two solid days of instruction steers away the people who the program isn’t right for. If you’re willing to give up your whole weekend to go learn to shoot, I think Appleseed is a great fit.

  4. “Is It Wrong to Criticize Good Intentions?” Is it wrong to criticize the paving stones on the road to hell? Or on the road a Marxist worker’s paradise (same thing really)?

  5. To me it seems pretty apparent that, given the literature and attitude, they are effective at self-selecting the kind of people who will endure and benefit – and that includes newbies who like to use pain to determine their personal thresholds.

    OTOH at my club, starting at 8:00AM first Saturday of every month we bring in and have newbies hitting an SR-C 200-yard target at 200 yards from prone with a club M1 Garand – and a lot of them often hit the 7-inch 10-ring or better. It’s over by about 1:00 before the real heat of the day catches you, and we do it rain or shine without rhetoric or dressing up in cammo. In my experience the guys to whom this appeals in the first place are self-selecting 2A advocates and don’t need the rhetoric – that part’s instinctual already.

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