What Makes Me Skeptical

I know I mentioned before I’d reserve judgment on Appleseed until I had actually been one.  After reading chatter over on their forum, I am reconsidering that.  I do not wish to paint all Appleseed participants and instructors with this same brush.  I’m sure many of them, like this gentlemen, are fine instructors, who really do want to help bring more people into the shooting culture.  I do not question the basic premise of Appleseed.   But I do question things like this:

These people sound like yuppies just chatting, nothing about them says anything to me about them having any credentials for having a radio talk show other than they just happen to have one. And where is their work on any kind of 2A program? Geeze, I have never seen more “If it didn’t originate here, it is no good” than these guys on blogs/talks.

And how about this one from a forum administrator:

Well well well.

Haven’t even been to one and are dissing it?  How Jr. High.

Typical of amerika today, where everything is a 15 second soundbite and too many folks think that fame can be found sitting in their underwear in front of a computer screen in their mama’s basement.  Not hearnig the “show”, I shall reserve full judgement until later.

For now though, I hope that they get to an Appleseed soon, ID themselves (although we should know them by the pastey white skin and the fact that they are still wearing just underwear!  LOL!), and give it an honest try for a weekend our way.  One would think that since they are conservative they would want to do a good job of reporting by getting the whole story instead of making it up like what happens on T.V.

Or they can continue being jut like all the other empty heads out there spouting off oppinoins as fact and losing crediblity among all but those whom also sit in their underwear in their mama’s basement.

And quite frankly, they can have them folks.

Will listen tonight.

Or this one:

Breda was the only one that was not “high”, and it showed.  It is a tough deal to have a first timer, with the fire hose just removed, to do justice to the program.  It does give us some perspective on how better to prepare folks to speak about Appleseed.   I think if I can find a “supplier”, I may get high and see if I understand what they were saying.

Now, Chris Byrne, who has actually been to an Appleseed, and knows his shit, I think presented a fair and balanced view of the program.  What I’m seeing is a lot of people who are unable to accept valid criticism and input, and that sets off alarm bells.  These aren’t the people I want representing the gun culture.  I have one basic litmus test for determining whether a person or organization is the kind of person I want to work with or not: Are you looking for allies, or are you looking for heretics?  When I get a whiff of the latter, alarm bells go off, and my skepticism get raised.  In grass roots movements, you’re always going to have some people trying to root out heretics, but how the organization deals with those types of folks says a lot about it.  Is Appleseed willing to deal with those who can’t deal with criticism?  Are they willing to weed through their own garden?  These are the major questions I have.

15 thoughts on “What Makes Me Skeptical”

  1. I’ve been to two different Appleseeds and had nothing but positive experiences.

    The discussions on different sites that I follow, primarily The High Road and Firing Line also have proved interesting. One recurring theme is “the NRA already does this, so why are you re-inventing the wheel?”. Around here, the NRA DOESN”T do anything like this. There is very little effort made to get new shooters involved. You have to actively look for such things, and most of what you can find is some form of competition. Many people are intimidated by that, when what they need is basic shooting instruction; what they get at Appleseed.

    The defensiveness you point out is something I’ve noticed myself. I think it is understandable, given that the program is almost completely done with volunteers. Most people don’t respond well when their motives are questioned in such circumstances. Hopefully a few quiet words can get the whining stopped.

    Personally, I think the more opportunities to get more people shooting the better. Turf wars and empire building don’t help our cause at all. I’m a menber of both the NRA and the Revolutionary War Veterans Association.

  2. “Are you looking for allies, or are you looking for heretics?”

    I think you hit the nail on the head there. That actually sums up the biggest issue I have with a lot of the people I encounter in the gun rights community, both online and in person. I think Straightarrow is the perfect embodiment of that. I left a comment on Kevin’s blog the other day basically saying that I don’t read The War on Guns very often anymore because, though I agree with an awful lot of what David says, his tactics and approach (i.e. “agree with me 100% or you are wrong”) just rub me wrong. Straightarrow didn’t waste much time popping on. Either he is an idiot with absolutely no reading comprehension, or he actually believes that criticizing tactics is the same thing as criticizing beliefs.

    I just wish I could get people like him to understand that everything in this issue is about sales. We are selling a product, even if that product deep down is a concept. We’ll never sway the true antis. But we’ll never get the laws in our country aligned with our actual rights without swaying all of those in the middle. The only way to do that is to sell them on ideas like liberty and self-reliance, and they will never be swayed by people whose approach is to tell them that they aren’t true patriots. I do admire the passion and drive people like David Codrea have for this cause. But I really believe their approach only appeals to people that already agree with them.

    A good comparison is to picture a car dealership (the internet), and we’re trying to sell Mustangs (as opposed to “gun rights”). No one is ever going to buy a Mustang from us, that didn’t already want one walking in, if we start screaming “you aren’t a real car owner if you don’t drive a Mustang. This is the most amazing car ever, and nothing else is worth owning!!!” Even many of those who were curious about that model wouldn’t end up getting one, because that approach just makes them want to get as far away from you, and your ideas, as possible.

  3. “Most people don’t respond well when their motives are questioned in such circumstances.” – RDB

    The thing is, no one seems to be questioning their motives. They’re just commenting on their approach. It doesn’t even seem to be a bad approach. It just doesn’t seem to be the best thing for a true “complete beginner” that their site suggests.

    Judging by their forum, there does seem to be an issue with a lot of them thinking that AS is perfect just as it is, and absolutely nothing could be done to improve it in any way. They also seem to be quick to misconstrue various comments, such as those about the sling. They present the sling as the only true way to shoot a rifle, all while portraying this as a means to train everyone to be part of the militia, despite the fact that large numbers of people that know far more about combat use of rifles agree that depending on a sling to shoot a rifle in combat is a bad thing.

  4. I have to agree with you on this one. Defending their events, instructors and practices is understandable. Immediately stooping to insults and ad hominems and degrading other shooting disciplines is deplorable. I’ve registered for an account on their forum so I can say so first person but haven’t been approved yet.

    The commenter who lambasted others for criticizing without having attended an Appleseed, who then proceeds to criticize the blogtalk radio show without having listened to it yet is ironic almost beyond words.

    Eating our own…I guess it’s just what we humans do. Sometimes it’s hard to keep going when the frustration level gets so high.

  5. The defensiveness you point out is something I’ve noticed myself. I think it is understandable, given that the program is almost completely done with volunteers. Most people don’t respond well when their motives are questioned in such circumstances. Hopefully a few quiet words can get the whining stopped.

    I don’t think anyone was questioning their motives. Getting people involved is a fine motivation. But they should be open to fair criticism, which I think is what Chris was doing. The fact that it’s not for newbie shooters I think is an important message, and I was confused about that initially myself.

  6. When I say newbie shooters, I mean people who have very little experience shooting a gun. Obviously it’s not meant for expert marksmen, but for people who have been around guns, but who want to learn proper rifle marksmanship, and maybe a little history thrown in.

  7. Laughingdog:

    I think you’re pretty correct on the fact that we’re selling a “product” to the public. Appleseed really isn’t a bad idea at all, because gun owners are, to a very large degree, our target audience. Most of them are not involved and don’t think much about guns as a political issue.

    A type I encounter often are those who despise politics and want nothing to do with it. Typically they are very nice people who can’t stand the adversarial, backstabbing nature of the beast. I’m not sure how you reach folks like that effectively, but a hard sell definitely won’t do it. A lot of them will honestly never be involved regardless, though.

  8. Sailorcurt:

    I agree in regards to the comments you’re talking about. It is frustrating, but the disagreements, frustrations and bickering are actually a sign of a healthy community. There is no bickering on the anti-gun side that happens in public places. Why? Because they don’t have a true grassroots movement. They get the advantage of airing out their differences behind closed door and emerging with a consistent and unified (mostly) message. It would be nice to have that on our side, but we never will because of the numbers of players and personalities involved.

  9. It’s likely that different instructors are presenting things slightly differently. I wasn’t told that the only acceptable way to shoot was with a sling. It is a very effective way within the limitations a sling presents. Another tool in the toolbox. As long as you have time, it has helped me increase my accuracy quite a bit. Using it to clear houses room to room, not so much.

    I agree that attacking others’ in the shooting community is a huge mistake, whoever does it. Fred’s method of propaganda can be a tad bit “intense”. It has it’s place, but like any strong flavor should be used sparingly.

    The intenisity and zeal that seems to be at the root of the conflict is probably due to the age of the organization. I’ve noticed that most volunteer organizations go through similar growing pains. Hopefully with time things will mellow out.

  10. “Are you looking for allies, or are you looking for heretics?”

    That’s a really good insight, thanks!

    As for Appleseed, well, Fred in _Shotgun News_ echoed essentially the same sentiments towards people who do things on the net as you’ve included in your posting.

    As someone who’s partly disabled and who e.g. nonetheless continues to teach beginning shooters as I can, I was rather … put off by this attitude. It’s not an either/or sort of thing.

    I’ve been shooting since kindergarten, learned the utility of a sling on my high school rifle team (now zapped by PC, as is unfortunately and dangerously all too common), learned how to snapshoot a rifle at short ranges through a lot of otherwise mostly futile wingshooting and definitely not with a sling (!) … well, with all I’ve learned on your blog since reading that Fred article I’d have to say I’m a lot further from going to an Appleseed.

    I think I’ll teach myself when I get sufficient range access (even here deep in Red State America my home town’s range we used to go to has been closed to the public, which is particularly silly given that its backstop is very high bluffs)

  11. The intenisity and zeal that seems to be at the root of the conflict is probably due to the age of the organization. I’ve noticed that most volunteer organizations go through similar growing pains. Hopefully with time things will mellow out.

    That’s true. Fundamental human nature does not change, no matter what the organization, and people are ornery creatures. But whether or not there’s a mellowing will depend on the leadership of the organization, which will fundamentally drive its structure and culture.

  12. Thank you for that excellent phrasing- looking or allies vs looking for heretics is the exact problem that the libertarian party constantly runs into.

  13. I haven’t been to an Appleseed so I have no direct experience with the program except what I read in SGN or other places.
    HOWSOMEVER, from what I have read, it seems to be the kind of a program where you get out exactly what you are willing to put into it. I.e., if you are a new to the sport of shooting and you pay attention to their way you will be better/know more at the end.
    If, on the other hand you are more concerned with the nuances of how the instructors(apparently all volunteers) go about their businessof working with the participants, then maybe not so much. I do remember from a long time of reading Fred that he is very passionate about his political beliefs and this passion probably “infects” the program somewhat.

    I would like to hit one to see for myself, although I suspect that each one is going to be slightly different depending on the instructors.

  14. “Typical of amerika today”


    Is that a typical sentiment in the organization? America with a ‘k’?

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