Most people spend memorial day weekend going out of town to the beach, or go camping. A lot of people like to stay home, invite their friends and/or family over and have a giant bar-b-que with lots of meat, and beer and things of that nature. Not me though! This weekend I decided to drive an hour away from home off in the mountains of Nevada, where I paid to have the privilege of people instructing me on how to lay down, sit, stand, kneel, and do several other things in the dirt, all while holding a rifle and trying to accurately hit “redcoat” targets at 100 yards, 200 yards, 300 yards, 400 yards, and make head shots at 250 yards. At the beginning of the weekend I couldn’t hit any of them.
Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I managed to get 3 of 3 shots in the simulated 300 yards target.
But I’m pretty sure I did that on accident. After we did that we had our first lesson on how to properly hold our rifles with slings attached. Then there were the 6 steps to firing a shot. Every time we would learn a new skill we would go to the firing line to try it out. My grouping of shots were improving from the instruction, but I still seemed unable to hit the broad side of a barn. Come the end of day 1 I had good groups, but I did worse at shooting our simulated “redcoat” targets than I had at the beginning of the day.
I was extremely frustrated with this, but recognized the fact that I had skills that I could take with me to the range the next time I went to practice with. One other item of note about the first day of the Appleseed shoot. At lunch time we had a history lesson. Where we were told how the revolutionary war started on April 19, 1775. Where the British troops told the colonists to “Lay down your arms, ye rebels, and disperse!” The militiamen started to disperse, but they didn’t disarm. Someone fired a shot (most likely a British officer, but we will never know). That shot fired set the British troops off. They fired into the militiamen while their backs were turned. When the shooting stopped 8 Americans were dead and 10 more wounded. One British soldier and one horse had also been wounded. The British troops fired a victory volley in the air, at their ability to kill the Americans while their backs were turned. Thus was the beginning of the revolutionary war and American independence. If you would like to read a little more about this story you can do so here.
So I came home the end of the first day, and Ashley helped me park the truck in the garage so we wouldn’t have to unload all the guns from the truck. Came in, ate food, and went to bed, to get up at 6am and do it all over again the next morning.
Begin day 2 with the “redcoat” targets again. I had better groups on day 2 but they were still all over the place. Then we actually moved on to the AQT (Army Qualifying Test) targets. We had to make timed shots in certain positions. The purpose of this was to earn the Rifleman’s patch, which is given to people who can score a 210 on that specific target. (I’ve added it below)
The first part of the drill is 10 shots from prone in 2 minutes at 100 yards simulated.
The second part of the drill is 10 shots (2 shots, mag change, 8 shots) from sitting position, start in standing with both mags on the floor in 2 minutes. It is simulated at 200 yards. You want to talk about hard? to go from standing, to sitting and then get off 10 shots accurately with a mag change. That is difficult! Target on the left gets 5 shots, target on the right gets 5 shots.
The third part is 10 shots (2 shots, mag change, 8 shots) go from standing, into prone, then get off 3 shots at the left target, 3 shots at the middle target, 4 shots at the right target in 2 minutes. 300 yards simulated. (Another extremely difficult one, the first time I did this one I didn’t get all the shots off in the time allotted.)
The last part is a little bit easier than the middle 2 parts in that you get 5 minutes to get off 10 shots. There are 4 targets. 3 shots on the left, 3 shots on the next to the right, 2 shots on the next to the right, and to shots to the far left. Simulated 400 yards. Next to impossible for me to even see these! LOL.
One thing I knew going into this, the sights on my little 10/22 rifle are not considered the greatest in the world. One thing i figured out after this experience, the sights on my 10/22 friggin suck! I mean they are awful.
So back to the story about Appleseed. The second day we went through one AQT drill. I sucked badly at it. Once again couldn’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn. We went through another AQT drill. I still sucked, and my rifle jammed several times. (I had been too tired to clean it the night before). At that point I was so pissed off and frustrated that when another AQT drill came around, I said screw it, I’m sitting this one out. I’ll start back after lunch.
One of the instructors (whom were all very helpful as much as they could be, but the student to instructor ratio was higher than what they normally like) came over to me and asked if I was ok. I related to him (rather nicely I think) that the sights on my rifle suck, and I was extremely frustrated with it. That’s when he advised me that I was using my sights wrong. The sight picture on a stock 10/22 is not like the sight picture on most guns. Whoops! No wonder I couldn’t hit anything. I was using my sights wrong.
We had another very informative lunch that centered around some very tough women and old guys from the Revolutionary war. After lunch I came back with a new understanding about the sights on my 10/22. Lo and behold, I was actually able to hit things! The things I was aiming at even! As the end of the second day wound down I was back to having problems getting my shots to go where I wanted them to.
I chalk this exclusively up to the fact that I was dog tired. All the standing, laying down, and kneeling with a rifle over and over and over again gets VERY tiring after 2 days in a row. Not to mention the contorted positions we had to get into, which my body was not used to. All made for a very tired and sore Randy. Once the day ended it was back home for a quick dinner, then bed to do it again the next morning.
Monday morning woke up and managed to get a good quick start on the day. Made it down to the Appleseed location early. We got the chairs set up, and proceeded to wait while the Appleseed volunteers went and set up targets at actual distances. This took them quite a while (which I didn’t mind too much because I was still so tired from the days before) and while we were all waiting we got told some more revolutionary war stories.
Once they had gotten the targets set up (100 yards, 200 yards, 300 yards, and 400 yards) they had everyone go to their vehicles and get their guns. I had brought along my Mosin Nagant for the long distance shooting. The reason I chose the Nagant was because I can get really cheap ammo. The only problem with that is, the ammo is cheap because it’s dirty and corrosive. Which means that I would have needed to clean the Nagant as soon as I got home that night, and I didn’t have the time, nor the inclination to be able to do that. So I ended up deciding against using the Nagant and decided to stick with the .22.
The down side to the .22 was, anything past 100 yards probably wouldn’t work very well. So they kept every one with .22 at the 100 yard targets, while others with larger calibers were on the further out targets. I think we shot 5 groups of 10 before calling it a day. (We didn’t get much more than that because it took the people shooting at 400 yards awhile to get out, mark their targets and come back.)
On that last group, despite the fact that I had crappy sights on my gun I was able to consistently hit a man sized target 7 out of 10 shots. Which I’m very proud of. I intend to continue trying to improve on this, so that when the next time Appleseed comes around I’ll be better prepared for what I need to do, to learn more, and shoot better. Maybe someday in the near future I’ll even earn my Rifleman’s patch.